COSTCO UPGRADES FOOD ITEMS IN BROOKLYN

BROOKLYN, N.Y. -- At the new Costco store here, fresh meals have gone upscale -- and upstairs.In fact, all food items in the new 143,000-square-foot store are sold on the second floor, above the tires, jewelry and electronic equipment sold on the first floor. The new unit is also the first Costco in the U.S. with two floors of merchandising space, according to a spokeswoman at the Issaquah, Wash.-based

BROOKLYN, N.Y. -- At the new Costco store here, fresh meals have gone upscale -- and upstairs.

In fact, all food items in the new 143,000-square-foot store are sold on the second floor, above the tires, jewelry and electronic equipment sold on the first floor. The new unit is also the first Costco in the U.S. with two floors of merchandising space, according to a spokeswoman at the Issaquah, Wash.-based Price/ Costco Inc.

While the few ready-to-heat meals available the day SN visited were standard offerings -- a three-serving platter of pot roast with carrots, green beans and mashed potatoes priced at $2.89 per pound, and sliced turkey with creamed corn and roast potatoes priced at $2.69 per pound -- the grab-and-go items, meal components, and ready-to-cook entrees seemed to have been selected with an eye toward the high ticket.

Costco's high-ticket fresh approach was most evident in the items stocked in a combined deli and meal component case. For instance, the case held only two lines of fresh pasta, both from gourmet brands Mallard's and Monterey Pasta Co.

Six varieties of Mallard's combined fresh pasta and sauce packages, advertised as serving five, went for $7.25 per package. The varieties sold were pasta with black pepper steak sauce, Southwestern chicken, lemon garlic chicken, Dijon chicken, roasted garlic with mushroom, and marsala wine and mushroom chicken. Each variety is packed with different sauces and flavored fettucine.

Filled varieties of Monterey Pasta sold included twin packs of chicken sausage and chicken tarragon ravioli, and five cheese and sun-dried tomato and asiago cheese ravioli. At least six varieties of regular and reduced fat Monterey pasta sauces were stocked next to the pastas, priced at $5.45 and $6.99.

Also in the case were a variety of pates priced between $4.85 and $7.99 per pound, Russian sevruga caviar, and at least six varieties of smoked and cured salmon items, as well as other smoked fish.

Near the fresh meal case, Costco markets eight varieties of party platters through order forms and signage, although only vegetable platters, priced at $16.99 and advertised as serving 16-18 people, were on display the morning SN visited.

Other platters promoted included smoked seafood, weighing 40 ounces and serving 8-10 for $34.99; meat, cheese and marinated vegetable antipasto platters weighing 37 ounces and serving 8-10, priced at $24.99; and a "Hye Roller" platter of sliced sections of flat bread-rolled sandwiches, weighing seven pounds and selling for $24.99.

In front of the meat section, half of a 15-foot island cooler is given over to value-added meats and seafood, either marinated or stuffed.

For instance, a package of three ready-to-cook stuffed chicken breasts cordon bleu went for $5.49 per pound, as did chicken breasts Kiev. Pork roast with apple walnut stuffing went for $4.29 per pound, flank steak Mediterranean style was priced at $5.99 per pound, a four-serving pork loin crusted with tri-color peppercorns was priced at $5.69 per pound, and salmon Milano was priced at $5.99 per pound. The most expensive item, crab cakes in packs of four, went for $12.99 per pound.

A small salad case across from the prepared entree island was stocked with two types of salad kits, grilled chicken or shrimp Caesar salads, sold for $3.49 and $4.99 per pound, respectively, and apparently made in-house.