This past week the AP featured the article “Bistro in Aisle 9: Supermarkets mimic restaurants” taking a look at the trend to grocers operating restaurants. The article features Wegman’s, Whole Foods and Kroger and is complimentary of the trend. Although Private Brands are not mentioned this is a smart evolution of the grocery business model to engage customers more often and to extend their brands. This is a brilliant evolution of retailer owned Private Brand.
Bistro in Aisle 9: Supermarkets mimic restaurants
Just beyond the canned goods and produce aisles where he usually grabs his groceries, Jack Curtin recently grabbed a pub lunch.
He started with the chicken breast sandwich special and a nice Belgian ale. His ex-wife had the crusted Atlantic salmon fillet. And they did it without ever leaving the store.
They were in “The Pub at Wegmans” in Collegeville, Pa. And the pub was in a Wegmans supermarket.
And it was all pretty good.
“Let’s put it this way,” says Curtin, who writes professionally about beer, “if I were shopping and a felt like having a beer, I would have no compunction about walking over there, sitting at the bar and having a beer.”
And he can largely because the hugely popular grocery store salad bars of the ’80s and ’90s have given way to a more sophisticated approach to prepared foods. Shoppers now can dine in on sushi and chardonnay, or grab crusted salmon and grilled chorizo to go.
The grocer-as-quick-serve-restaurant model has done well in the recession, in part because the convenience is good and cost is low.
But even as the economy upticks slightly, ready-to-eat food continues to drive more traffic to grocery stores, increasingly blurring the traditional boundaries between supermarkets and restaurants.