Grocery stores becoming tomorrow's restaurants

Grocery stores becoming tomorrow's restaurants

Could your store also serve as a restaurant? At many Whole Foods you can sit down and sip wine while enjoying tapas or Italian wine and many indie natural stores offer delis replete with healthy gourmet meal options to eat there or take away. Even mass is getting in on the trend. At the Pub at Wegman’s you can sit on a leather barstool and enjoy a beer with dinner. Kroger is stepping up its grab and go with heat and serve meal options while Hy-Vee features a food court in stores.

Why the shift? The recession has people looking for cheaper options to traditional restaurants. Couple this with a society in dire need of convenience and you’ve got a recipe for grocery store restaurants.

Evidence of this trend was found across nearly 20 product categories, according to recent research conducted by Technomic for its RMS (Retailer Meal Solutions) Monitor intelligence service.

While rotisserie chicken, macaroni and cheese and deli salads remain a substantial part of the mix, they are by no means the sole anchor to capture consumer attention and dollars, the report says.

"From Korean-style barbecue, Hispanic baked goods and Mediterranean salads to gourmet versions of retro Americana sides, made-to-order specialty sandwiches and chicken wings in a host of flavors, it's immediately clear that 'deli' doesn't do these offerings justice," says Jenny Anderson, manager of the RMS Monitor project.

What’s surprising is that it hasn’t happened earlier. Retailers have great access to products, equipment and hungry shoppers. Imagine the cross-merchandising right at your fingertips: “Today’s lasagna features organic chanterelles from Jake’s Farm only 2 miles away. They’re on special in the produce department.”

Sure, many natural products stores have had in-store delis for decades, a destination dining experience in your store though makes it just that—a destination.

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