As a premier grocer in Southern California, Gelson’s Market believes it’s incumbent to continue to drive its brand and its’ sub-departments forward. That’s why as a department, the Gelson’s Kitchen is a true area of interest to Gelson’s customers and the company intends to keep it that way.
“We are constantly testing new ingredients, flavors, cuisines, technologies and techniques to continue to be ahead of trends; as well as mastering the execution of hot current trends,” said Abe van Beek, corporate executive chef of Gelson’s, a 27-store chain based in Encino, Calif. “By capitalizing on our talented team and their dedication to our customers, we can continue to drive innovations and sales.”
Gelson’s has had a service deli for more than 40 years and over that time, the department has evolved from a simple delicatessen to a full-fledged, at-your-service restaurant, offering a catalog of items, flavors and ethnic cuisines.
“Along the years, we’ve added a carvery station, soup and salad bars, hot self-service bar, gourmet case, rotisserie chickens and now our wine bars, which offer a true restaurant experience,” van Beek said. “These additions have created what the Gelson’s Kitchen represents today, a truly unique fresh food showcase.”
The pandemic hit the industry hard, especially foodservice items, but Gelson’s was able to shift and adjust quickly.
“The key to our menu engineering is our focus on the cross-functionality and synergies we obtain by creating items for everyday use in our kitchen operations, that we can spin into an item for another of our fresh kitchen outlets,” van Beek said. “When we do this, we ensure top-quality fresh items, while mitigating our shrink.”
As the advocate for Gelson’s Kitchen teams, van Beek believes the understanding and empathy for the challenges all foodservice and grocery workers endure has helped the grocer thrive in the foodservice category.
“We want to continue to drive ways for our teams to produce food they are proud of,” he said. “I truly believe happy cooks make better food. If we can develop our practices with that as our ethos, we can ensure that our customers will taste a difference.”
In the year ahead, Gelson’s sees a big opportunity in continuing to refine its catering offerings, while exploring how it can partner with outside vendors to extend the services it offers to customers from a catering standpoint — such as hot service and delivery.
“We also see an opportunity to explore and expand our wine bars and how they shape our guests’ experience while shopping with us,” van Beek said. “We currently offer our ‘Sip and Shop’ service, where you can enjoy a glass of wine and something off our unique Wine Bar menu while one of our associates does your shopping for you, free of charge. Our in-store Wine Bars really present a tremendous opportunity for us to further separate our shopping experience from all others.”
Additionally, Gelson’s will be investing more into its technology and leveraging things like sous vide cooking and combi oven technologies to continue to drive efficiencies and consistencies in its execution.
“Through our lens, the Gelson’s Kitchen is the tie-in to Gelson’s focus on the finest-quality ingredients and our Southern California lifestyle for our customers,” van Beek said.