TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — Reasor's here recently opened a new store in Jenks, Okla., with a strong focus on fresh departments and an extensive prepared-food department. The grand opening of the store took place on June 24.
“The surprise to me was that people on several occasions said, ‘This reminds me of a Wegmans,’ and I was surprised they even knew of [Rochester, N.Y.-based] Wegmans,” said Allen Mills, senior vice president and chief operating officer of Reasor's. “And they also said it reminded them of H-E-B stores in Texas and United Market Street stores also in Texas. All three of those are really nice operations, but the response has just been overwhelming so far to the store.
“All us food merchants have a vision of what we think the consumer wants as the store of the future. We've talked to our customers, we visited the Wegmans, the H-E-Bs and the Uniteds of the world and studied them, and we thought this was the type of store that our customers would appreciate and want, and so far so good. It's just worked out great.”
The new Reasor's on South Elm at the Creek Turnpike touts a strong foodservice department with salad, sandwich, coffee, olive and sushi bars, and special features including banquet and meeting space, a coffee bar and a deli restaurant.
The restaurant offers full breakfast, lunch and dinner menus daily, including traditional fare and on-the-go items. A carving station serves up anything from prime rib, to turkey, to brisket, and a brick oven bakes fresh pizzas.
Almost a third of the store's 300 employees are staffed in the deli department, Mills told SN, with approximately 70-75 employees in the deli alone.
“We had three things that we wanted when we started — we wanted the food to taste good, we wanted it to be fresh and we wanted it to be top quality,” Mills said.
“We hired two chefs and for the last seven months, it's been their goal to develop menus for that particular store. We have over 500 recipes for that store, so a little bit of something for everyone.”
The new 80,000-square-foot store also has a large natural foods area, as well as a fresh fish market. Reasor's employed a seafood merchant from Seattle to provide expert insight into new trends.
“Most of the fish is flown in daily and we're using a different type of case that hasn't really been seen here in Oklahoma that's pretty well open with the ice bed,” Mills said.
The floral department features distinctive new merchandising cases as well.
“I believe we are the first in the nation to install that particular structural concept [in floral] — it's curved and a beautiful presentation,” Mills said. “Our goal in floral is to have a floral shop inside our grocery store, not a grocery store floral. We have florist-quality product there.”
The new store's produce department has an expanded selection of value-added items and organics.
“We want it to be a destination for the tomato category. We have a different type of merchandising that we're using in that particular department as well as different types of merchandising tables in our bakery department,” Mills said.
Mills added that the company is considering retrofitting some existing Reasor's locations to the new format, depending on the demographics served by those stores.
“We're going to study this store,” he said. “We're trying to refine it and tweak it, and ultimately, we hopefully will find some more locations for a similar store.”