Restaurant Development & Design

WINTER 2014

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4 4 • R E S T A U R A N T D E V E L O P M E N T + D E S I G N • W I N T E R 2 0 1 4 Shopping for Restaurant Customers While supermarkets that feature dining areas aren't a new trend in the U.S., the push to create the ultimate shopping and dining experience is changing the way consumers view a trip to the grocery store. It also changes the way restaurant operators view their competition. "Supermarkets are targeting the restaurant customer because prepared foods have become a strong avenue for growth for retailers. They have the abil- ity to offer restaurant-quality meals for reasonable prices, and many supermar- kets are doing so in creative, innovative ways," notes Wade Hanson, a principal at Technomic, the Chicago-based market research frm. "Consumers now view supermarkets as a very real alternative to restaurant dining in many instances." One reason for grocers' interest in the restaurant business is that it represents a way for them to stave off sales erosion brought on by other retailers entering the grocery business. As a result, restaurants face potential sales declines as supermar- kets cash in on dining occasions that were once outside of their realm. The average person goes to a super- market 1.6 times per week but makes food buying decisions, such as where to have lunch, 2.1 times per week, says Phil Lempert, a consultant known as The SupermarketGuru. "Over the last few years, supermarkets have lost market share because of other retailers. So now, super- markets are trying to build relationships with shoppers, celebrating and surround- ing food," Lempert notes. "Twenty-fve years ago, Kroger had 'restaurants' in their stores that were basically an extension of the deli. So, it's not something new, but it is something that's evolving." Indeed, mainstream grocers like Wegmans, Publix and Schnucks now have full-service restaurants in their stores, as is the case with specialty retail outlets like Whole Foods Markets. In mid-December Whole Foods opened a 56,000-square-foot store in Brooklyn, N.Y., that features a rooftop tap room and restaurant, as well as an in-house ramen chef, a pizza station with a wood- fred oven and a fresh juice bar. Another testament to the continuing evolution of restaurants at retail: Hy-Vee grocery stores are converting their deli seating areas into full-service restaurants in the form of Market Grille and Market Cafe eateries. "We've had dining areas within our stores dating back to the 1960s, so Hy-Vee was an early adopter of in-store dining," says Ruth Comer, Hy-Vee assistant vice president of media relations. "It's not anything revolutionary in our stores. What's changed is that we're add- ing a service aspect to our dining." DESIGNS ON DINING Hy-Vee's new Madison, Wis., store includes a separate full-service Market Grille restaurant. It features booths and freestanding tables and offers a full dinner menu, including appetizers, freshly made pastas, aged steaks, chops and grilled seafood — all made to order and served by trained waitstaff.

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