McColla Enterprises, Ltd. was the creation of college student and street vendor, Peter La Colla (Pete) and his teacher/lawyer, Daniel J. McCabe (Dan) in 1987. The pair was struck with an idea to market the whimsical and “fast” food of a city street vendor within the staid and highly tailored settings of retail shopping mall food courts.
They architecturally designed and re-created a spirited New York City street vending scene and dramatized it inside a mall food court with their first retail store called Street Corner Cuisine. The one and only cuisine store was built and based in Topeka, Kansas, and it enjoyed its grand opening in March of 1988. This began Pete and Dan’s mall retail experience and was the mainstay of their retail operations for several years. However, the experience they developed around the Cuisine store led them to some unexpected retailing opportunities in that same mall.
In late 1988, Pete and Dan launched Street Corner News, the retail dramatization (within a mall) of an impulse-purchase, “chock-packed” city newsstand. This store set the company on a new and different retailing path to market newspapers, magazines, lottery tickets, convenience items, beverages and snacks.
The concept of a newsstand/convenience store met with instant success in the Kansas marketplace and pleasantly seemed to fill a much needed void in the mall retailing scene, in part because pharmacies, newsstands, convenience stores and other small shops which appear so common on city streets did not seem to appear as tenants of the more upscale and up-price retail shopping mall environments.
Beyond the permanent store locations of Street Corner Cuisine and Street Corner News, the mall business further evolved when the company launched a temporary holiday kiosk to sell picture calendars. For several years, McColla operated these mid-corridor sales displays, which appeared in malls only during the holiday shopping crunch time. This seasonal calendar sales operation met with fair success, but was abandoned the end of the 1993 holiday season so that full-scale efforts could be put toward the development of the retail newsstand division.
In fact, after having created and opened yet another mall-based food operation, Garden of Eat’n, in 1990, the company decided to exit the food business entirely to concentrate on the newsstand operation that had proved to be more manageable and more profitable. In 1992, Garden of Eat’n was closed and in 1993 Street Corner Cuisine was closed, leaving the company solely with a future devoted to the development of Street Corner News.
By 1994, the company had successfully built, opened, and operated seven company-owned Street Corner News sites in various locations in the Midwest and on the East Coast. A decision was made to more aggressively explore and pursue locations for new stores. However, given the readily identifiable demand for these operations and the desire to have the Street Corner News concept flourish, the company embarked on a plan to systemize its business and franchise its operations. All company-owned stores where eventually sold to franchisees and now the entire system is based on franchised operations.
Most major mall developers throughout the country grew to recognize McColla’s newsstand retail concept. The universal need for the concept and a mall’s limited options for fulfilling this need have caused Street Corner stores to be recognized for their simple, yet versatile, convenience, as well as their ability to “fit” within the stylized world of modern shopping meccas.
By the 2000s, Street Corner had dropped the “News” from the brand with the decline of print media distribution and focused on purely convenience store products. Subsequently, brought on by a changing landscape in the mall industry, McColla expanded on their enterprise by applying their approach to sophisticated design and upscale merchandising to a larger format geared toward the growing trend of mixed use developments. These developments in urban areas bring together office, residential, retail, and recreation environs into one symbiotic community, often in food deserts. The Street Corner Urban Market is a concept that blends traditional convenience store and small grocery with both prepared and fresh-from-scratch foods.
More recently, the company has added fuel stations and truck stops to their portfolio, each with featuring Street Corner Urban Market’s brand and reputable dedication to quality, design, and forward-thinking technology such as self checkout and order-at-the-pump. To distinguish the company’s store concepts internally, the smaller convenience stores without food service are referred to as Street Corner Express while the larger stores with food service are referred to as Street Corner Urban Market.
On May 2021, the company announced that 51 percent of their ownership had changed hands. Pete and Vincent DeBiase became the only remaining previous stockholders, and the company was joined by new CEO Vikram Dhillon, Deepen Patel, Toby Doeden, Narinder Dhillon, and Palvinder Hundal. Adrian Aybar, who had been handling the onboarding of new franchisees, joined the stockholder group in August that summer as the new Vice President of Operations. Other new external additions to the team included Andrew and Laura Perkins of Bluestem Creative (web support and marketing) and Dr. Fred Wencel (food services development).