Price Chopper has leveraged the foodservice concepts of its Market Bistro concept store to inform the prepared-foods offerings at its remodeled Market 32 stores.
The Schenectady, N.Y.-based supermarket operator opened the 90,000-square-foot Market Bistro concept in Latham, N.Y., in 2014, and has since incorporated many of the innovations from that store into both its Market 32 and Price Chopper locations.
“This is pretty much our crucible, our proving grounds, for different concepts,” said John Mazzacco, director of food service at Price Chopper, referring to the Market Bistro concept.
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Market Bistro includes not only a full-service, sit-down restaurant, Chef’s Grill, but also an array of individually branded foodservice stations in the adjacent Bistro Boulevard area. These concepts include Back Bay Fish Fry; Custom Burgers; Veggies & Greens; Stone Fired Pizza; Ladle & Spoon Soup Shop; Out of this World Burritos; and others.
Allen Warch, VP of fresh merchandising at Price Chopper, said the company analyzes the performance of individual menu items in the branded foodservice concepts at Market Bistro and then transfers them to its Market 32 and Price Chopper stores if they are deemed viable for expansion. Rather than use the restaurant names created for Market Bistro, the Market 32 stores instead keep the foodservice offerings branded under the Market 32 name.
Meanwhile, Price Chopper has also made some adjustments to Chef’s Grill concept, including walling off the seating area to separate it from the shopping area, and tweaking the menu the make it more of a casual, “pub fare” concept, Mazzacco explained.
“We do a lot of experimenting there, because the chefs can be a lot more creative,” he said.
The restaurant has seating for about 50 customers, plus a counter area where diners can overlook the kitchen and watch food being prepared. Chef’s Grill does a brisk breakfast business and has enjoyed particular success with a Friday night prime rib dinner special, Mazzacco said.
Directly behind the Chef’s Grill restaurant is the Market Bistro cooking school, where the retailer offers a range of classes, from “Kids’ Night Out” pizza parties to detailed lessons for making pasta from scratch
“It's a great opportunity to connect with customers,” said Mazzacco.
Warch said the company is “always looking for opportunities to deliver fresh food to customers.”
“It’s an open-ended journey that we're on,” he said. “There are no guardrails necessarily wrapped around this. We're going to continue to look at ways to deliver what customers are looking for, whether it's restaurant operations or expanded [home meal replacement] sections or expansions or improvements of our current programs.”