THE CHANGING FRESH MEALS SCENE

Supermarkets weren't the only industry segment who spent the year rethinking the fresh-meals business -- Foodini's and the unit of EatZi's inside Macy's in New York -- threw in the apron. And then a former Wal-Mart executive launched another meals concept store -- the Market at Pinnacle Point.d by the need to make more of a long-term investment to propel the idea to permanent success.Foodini's had

Supermarkets weren't the only industry segment who spent the year rethinking the fresh-meals business -- Foodini's and the unit of EatZi's inside Macy's in New York -- threw in the apron. And then a former Wal-Mart executive launched another meals concept store -- the Market at Pinnacle Point.

d by the need to make more of a long-term investment to propel the idea to permanent success.

Foodini's had offered hot prepared foods from a service counter but emphasized chilled, prepared entrees and meals to go. Now the inaugural and four others have been reformatted with standard convenience-store food items like microwave hot dogs and burritos.

Just after the Foodini's experiment ended, Brinker International, Dallas, confirmed that it would shutter its EatZi's Market & Bakery inside Macy's flagship department store in Manhattan. The doors closed Jan. 22.

The concept has been successful in Dallas, Houston and Atlanta, but the Macy's location, and another that closed earlier on nearby Long Island, did not do the volume or ring up the check size that the other locations did, officials said.

Meanwhile, this summer, Richard Donckers, former vice president of food retailing for Wal-Mart, Bentonville, Ark., opened the Market at Pinnacle Point, practically in the retail giant's backyard, in Rogers, Ark.

The concept he developed with two business partners is "sort of an EatZi's plus or a sized-down Central Market," Donckers said, referring respectively to the Brinker concept and to San Antonio-based H.E. Butt Grocery Co.'s fresh, all-food concept.

The Market at Pinnacle Point does have some concepts that could be compared to those at EatZi's and Central Market, but so far it appears to be unique in the arena of alternate-format meals concepts [see "Ex-Wal-Mart VP Opens Fresh-Foods Market," SN, 8/14/00].