It likely comes as no surprise that the in-house barbecue concept called the Chop Shop is a popular venue for prepared foods at Rouses Markets, the Thibodaux, La.-based chain known for its fresh, local offerings.
But Southern-style barbecue isn’t the only attraction for customers seeking a prepared meal at the chain. Customers also flock to an Asian stir-fry concept called Mongolian Grill, which is operated inside several Rouses locations by AFC Sushi, a provider of turnkey sushi stations in supermarkets around the country.
“It’s very, very popular for lunch — I would say extremely popular,” said Michael Westbrook, director of deli/cold cuts/sushi at Rouses.
Rouses’ customers flock to Mongolian Grill for fresh Asian-inspired seafood specialties like Cajun Teriyaki Crawfish and made-to-order poke bowls.
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Rouses has expanded Mongolian Grill to about 15 of its stores, and the concept is planned for all new Rouses locations going forward, Westbrook said. The restaurants are positioned right next to the café seating areas in the stores, where customers can also order panini sandwiches and other prepared foods.
The fresh-made aspect of the Mongolian Grill seems to appeal to Rouses customers, Westbrook said.
“I think customers really like watching their food made to order,” he said. “They like the action, and they like the ability to special order if they want to.”
Customers choose a protein — seafood options are especially popular — and have it stir-fried with either rice or noodles, along with vegetables, and a choice of sauce. Mongolian Grill also merchandises some hot, pre-made bowls to appeal to grab-and-go customers. The bowls are priced at about $7 to $8.
“If you buy a drink, you're still under $10, and anytime you can stay under a $10 price point for lunch, you are going to sell quite a few,” said Westbrook.
The Mongolian Grills complement other foodservice offerings at Rouses, including the Chop Shop, which offers a variety of house-smoked meats, including ribs, Boston butt, Cajun-style sausage and others, along with traditional barbecue side dishes that include macaroni and cheese, potato salad and greens. The Chop Shop is available in most Rouses locations, Westbrook said.
Other made-to-order offerings include poke bowls, which are also offered through Rouse’s partnership with AFC Sushi and have proven to be highly popular with Rouses’ customers.
“We’re down here on the Gulf Coast, and we sell a lot of seafood,” said Westbrook.