Wegmans Hooks Up With Famed N.Y. Eatery

ROCHESTER, N.Y. Wegmans' shoppers don't have to travel to Manhattan to experience Tavern on the Green. They can get a taste of the renowned New York restaurant right in their favorite supermarket. Wegmans is among the first retailers to sell Tavern on the Green-brand sauces and marinades, a new eight-item line that includes 1870 Steak Sauce; Central Park Signature Dipping Oil; and Toscana Garlic Parmesan

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Wegmans' shoppers don't have to travel to Manhattan to experience Tavern on the Green. They can get a taste of the renowned New York restaurant right in their favorite supermarket.

Wegmans is among the first retailers to sell Tavern on the Green-brand sauces and marinades, a new eight-item line that includes 1870 Steak Sauce; Central Park Signature Dipping Oil; and Toscana Garlic Parmesan Marinade.

Ranging in price from $7.99 to $10, each product is all-natural and contains no artificial flavors or coloring. Four additional products will be introduced by the end of the year, with others to follow in 2008, possibly wine, coffee and tea.

Along with its ties to one of the nation's top-grossing restaurants, the line stands out in that it's helping charity: 25% of the proceeds are donated to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, Alexandria, Va.

Wegmans is carrying three of the products, including the steak sauce, according to a chain spokeswoman.

Another retailer selling some of the items is Northeast convenience-store chain Wilson Farms. Williamsville, N.Y.-based Wilson Farms got involved because its customers enjoy new and unique products, and the chain is active in charitable giving, a chain spokesman told SN.

The 200-store operator currently helps raise funds for hospice care and to fight leukemia and lymphoma.

“This was a natural fit,” said Wilson Farms' public relations and communications coordinator Joshua Gregory.

Wilson Farms is marketing the line in a display behind the counter at five stores: four in Buffalo and one in Rochester.

Among other retail partnerships in the works, Heron Hill Winery in the Finger Lakes region of New York is including some of the products in its gift baskets.

Supplementing the brick-and-mortar retail efforts is a new website, www.tavern-onthegreen.com [3], that went live last month.

While many large companies have helped raise funds for the NCMEC, this is the first effort from a food or beverage manufacturer in about a decade, according to Susan Culler, the nonprofit's vice president.

Culler feels the line will do well, since it appeals to consumers who want to help charity, but don't know how. “This is a great way to make a difference in kids' lives,” she told SN.

The launch of the line comes at a time when cause marketing is a growing focus for both manufacturers and retailers.

Such efforts could produce good results, as eight in 10 Americans say that corporate support of causes wins their trust in that company, according to Cone Inc., Boston, a cause branding consultancy.

Further, about 44% of philanthropically minded consumers believe that one highly effective way for a nonprofit to reach them is through companies from which they buy products or services.

Many retailers have created new and unique cause marketing initiatives. For example, Price Chopper has co-branded products with Newman's Own, donating proceeds to charity; and when Ukrop's shoppers use their loyalty card to buy products from any of Ukrop's seven private-label lines, the retailer will give 3% of the sale to charity.

One challenge retailers face when it comes to cause marketing, though, is deciding which charity to support, said Howie Jacobson, managing partner, Dixon Schwabl, the Victor, N.Y.-based firm that's marketing the Tavern on the Green line.

“It's becoming more difficult to be part of local initiatives, because there are so many worthy causes,” he said. “It's hard to just pick one.”