D&W FOOD CENTERS OPENS ITS FIRST FREESTANDING MANHATTAN BAGEL STORE

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- D&W Food Centers here has opened its first freestanding Manhattan Bagel franchise, near a Wal-Mart unit.The company has also begun supplying some of its supermarket bakeries with bagels and other products made at the new facility.D&W officials said shortly after the 2,400-square-foot store opened that sales at the unit were initially on target."We're pleased with customer counts

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- D&W Food Centers here has opened its first freestanding Manhattan Bagel franchise, near a Wal-Mart unit.

The company has also begun supplying some of its supermarket bakeries with bagels and other products made at the new facility.

D&W officials said shortly after the 2,400-square-foot store opened that sales at the unit were initially on target.

"We're pleased with customer counts and sales, and that's without any strong marketing," said Jim Cherney, food-service project coordinator for D&W. Cherney is charged with running D&W's Manhattan Bagel project, which includes operation of the traditional Manhattan Bagel retail store.

Cherney added that the distribution of products from the location to D&W supermarkets is also going smoothly.

"We've put in a larger oven and have staffed the operation almost like a supply house. From there, we're delivering to our stores that have self-service branded cases, twice a day, seven days a week," Cherney explained.

As reported earlier in SN, D&W entered an area-development agreement with Eatontown, N.J.-based Manhattan Bagel Co. last summer.

Under that agreement, D&W formed a subsidiary that is running the first freestanding unit. The subsidiary will develop about 20 Manhattan Bagel units over a 36-month period, to be run either inside D&W supermarkets or at freestanding locations in an exclusive territory covering 11 counties in Michigan.

The agreement followed openings of Manhattan Bagel shops inside D&W supermarkets in Grand Haven and Holland, Mich., last summer. Since last month., D&W has been adding branded self-service cases at a handful of D&W stores, Cherney said.

D&W is one of a number of supermarkets with Manhattan Bagel operations located inside its stores, but is the first supermarket company to become an independent franchisee.

D&W plans to open and operate four or five more Manhattan Bagel sites in the Grand Rapids market within the next year. Some of the sites will be in-store and others stand-alone.

Officials do not expect the D&W-Manhattan Bagel deal to be affected by the recent Chapter 11 filing by Manhattan Bagel, which was reported in SN's Dec. 15 issue.