A bag of Sabritos chips dangles next to the checkout counter. Jalape & #324;os are featured prominently alongside the hot dog roller. Signs proclaim "Prepared to Your Taste" in Spanish. Customers can get a copy of La Opinion with their coffee in the morning.

Your local neighborhood bodega? Try again.

It's Chevron Corp.'s latest effort to reach the huge Latino market in Los Angeles and Southern California.

The San Ramon-based oil company recently revamped all 85 of its local gas station convenience stores, while 81 others owned by franchisees are in the process of converting.

In addition to standard sandwiches and soft drinks, the food counters now sell taquitos, quesadillas, pan dulce (Mexican pastries) and chicharrones (fried pork skin). Soon, spicy beef and bean plates will sell for 99 cents, a price point designed to meet Latino budgets.

"We are looking to have offers that appeal to Hispanics' value perspective or their flavor perspective," said Nancy Cabell, a customer value consultant at Chevron supervising the program.

The new format came in response to a study by Informational Research Inc. that found Latinos on average spend 10 percent more in convenience stores than the general population.

Latinos also visit convenience stores more often, with working Latinos tending to shop in the morning for breakfast, lunch and for snack foods. In contrast, other shoppers visit less and then tend to just grab one item before heading back to the car.

Chevron has made a point to hire bilingual personnel at the cash register. However, the company took care not to alter the architecture of the outlets, in keeping with the prime rule of chain-store marketing that locations should look the same.

So far, Chevron reports, the 85 Hispanic stores in Los Angeles and Orange counties have reported sales above the industry average. However, the company is only going so far.

You won't see stacked-up boxes of Tecate or other Mexican beer, nor that prominent bodega staple: oversized posters of Mexican beer girls featuring plenty of cheesecake.

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