Sit-In Is The New Takeout
America is a nation of varying types of foodies who love to explore new flavor profiles, textures, ethnic dishes, healthy snacks, dessert indulgences, reinvented classics and almost everything in between. For the foodie and average time-pressed individual, blending palate satisfaction and convenience is imperative. One solution is today’s new and improved grocerant – a grocery store and restaurant merged into one. The grocerant, America’s new “destination for dining,” is not only making the home kitchen obsolete but also competing with QSRs and fast-casual restaurants for business.
According to the article, “Supermarket Customers Are Hot For Takeout,” posted on the Washington Post online, the term “lifestyle” has become commonplace in discussions about the hot food trend in supermarkets. In other words, visits to the grocery store to “pick up or grab” dinner have become more prominent in daily life than visiting the grocery store to “shop” for dinner. Propelling this trend forward are premier grocerants such as Eataly in New York City, Whole Foods across the country and more regional companies such as Mandola’s Italian Market in Texas, where the main priority above décor and amenities is a quality-first experience.
Eataly, an Italian market, is equipped with seven sit-down restaurants inside its 50,000-square-foot location complete with marble tables, bar and table seating and a rooftop beer garden, all of which create ambience and the “awe” factor for visiting consumers. This extravagant kind of layout exemplifies the evolution of the modern-day grocerant boasting gourmet, style and comfort. Furthermore, each specialty restaurant is strategically positioned next to the market area that provides its fresh and authentic ingredients, which helps dispel any doubts that prepared foods are made with lesser quality ingredients than what’s sold in the market. In fact the location’s motto is, “We cook what we sell in-store.”
Whole Foods, a leader in the prepared foods sector and major proponent of in-store sophistication, offers a variety of dishes from breakfast through dinner, as well as in-store seating and in some cases, taverns that offer wine tastings as well as entrées. The grocerant giant defies the notion that the standard of quality varies between market produce and hot foods. “There isn’t a cheaper piece of chicken coming out of prepared foods, as far as the quality standards, as what you’re going to buy at the counter,” said Scott Crawford, Whole Foods prepared foods coordinator for the Mid-Atlantic region, as reported by the Washington Post online.
Quality and comfort are clearly high-priority standards for the modern-day grocerant. And just as vital is “culinary inspiration,” which is a driving point on Mandola’s Italian Market website: “If you feel inspired, the Market has exactly what you need to make a fabulous meal at home.” After all, grocerants are still grocery stores. One way to increase profit is through inspiration, the customer no longer has to wonder how to cook or season the fresh produce and meats that appeal to them in-store. They can simply purchase the ingredients and attempt to replicate the entrée at home sans the ambience. In-store cooking classes are now trending in today’s grocerant as well.
In this day and age, the grocery store can also be described as a hub that provides many different wants and needs for the busy consumer, including a pharmacy, butcher, Western Union, ATM and even Redbox for shoppers to obtain cinematic entertainment. In combination with great service, variety, high-quality chef-prepared gourmet alternatives to fast food and a bit of pampering, the term destination is very fitting for today’s grocerant. Consumers who want to sit down or get in and out have the opportunity to take advantage of these coveted locales that epitomize convenience, boost company profits and effortlessly create customer loyalty.
The massive array of food options and accommodating atmospheres are not the only elements catapulting the average grocery store to “dining destination.” The other major factor is convenience, as it serves as a major time saver for consumers who don’t have an hour to sit down but want to enjoy high-quality foods in the restaurant-style environment. According to www.grocerants.blogspot.com, in the 1940s cooking from scratch was the norm and the average home-cooked meal took 150 minutes to prepare, but nowadays, people don’t have that kind of time to spare.
“With everyone not having a lot of time and rushing to get home from work, by the time you make something for dinner its 8 o’clock, so it’s easier to grab and go,” says Eric Schott, assistant store manager of a Concord, NC, Food Lion. Schott went on to explain that part of the convenience of grocerant prepared foods is meal customization. “Grab a rotisserie chicken and a potato salad or whatever kind of salad, and you have dinner.”
Furthermore, Schott explains that lack of flavor in food prepared outside of the home is not an issue. “The quality of taste has improved,” Schott explained. “Years ago food was bland, but now you can’t tell the difference between store bought and homemade,” he continued. It’s an added benefit that trained chefs prepare hot foods whether in-store or sent from headquarters. This improvement in taste evolution explains why the prepared foods sector of the grocery is a “growing category.”
In fact, according to the article “Growth in the Food Retail Markets Sprouts from Other Channels” posted on the Las Vegas Review Journal online, in-store prepared foods is a sector of the grocery industry that is expected to grow 7.5 percent annually. Schott points out, prepared foods are not only convenient for evening consumers looking to get something for themselves and their families after work while grabbing necessities such as milk and paper towels, but ready-to-eat prepared food is also convenient for travelers passing through town.
In combination with great service, variety, high-quality chef-prepared gourmet alternatives to fast food, and a bit of pampering, the term destination is very fitting for today’s grocerant. Consumers who want to sit down or get in and out have the opportunity to take advantage of these coveted locales that epitomize convenience, boost company profits and effortlessly create customer loyalty.