SpartanNash grocery stores are testing the sale of meals from restaurants in western Michigan, which have lost significant business from mandated closings during the coronavirus outbreak.
Eight restaurants in the region have drawn up menus of favorite customer meals and side dishes that are now being sold at 25 supermarkets under SpartanNash’s D&W Fresh Market, Family Fare, Forest Hills Foods and Ada Fresh Market banners. The heat-and-serve meals are located in the deli section of each store.
Participating restaurants in the program, dubbed Restaurant Meals-To-Go, include Anna’s House (with offerings at D&W and Family Fare stores), Big O’ Cafe (D&W), Cedar Springs Brewing Co. (Family Fare), City Built Brewing Co. (Family Fare), Donkey Taqueria (Family Fare), The Friesian Gastro Pub (D&W, Ada and Family Fare), Osteria Rossa (D&W, Forest Hills Foods and Family Fare) and Westside Social (Family Fare).
The program serves up a wide array of meal and sides, ranging from better-for-you items, pub fare and comfort foods to German, Puerto Rican, Mexican and Italian dishes. Shoppers can find a list of the restaurants, menu items and pilot store locations at spartannash.com/restaurant-meals-to-go.
“This is a win-win partnership for West Michiganders and local restaurants hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Lori Raya, executive vice president and chief merchandising and marketing officer at SpartanNash, said in a statement. “Restaurants are bringing team members back to work, while families can enjoy some of their restaurant favorites, discover new ones and help their local struggling restaurants.”
To help contain the spread of coronavirus, Michigan restaurants were ordered to temporarily close for all but takeout service effective March 16. Grand Rapids, Mich.-based SpartanNash said that, in developing the pilot, its retail, merchandising and marketing teams worked quickly to identify a diverse group of local restaurants that could transition to preparing heat-and-serve meals for consumers to buy at the supermarket.
The food retailer and distributor noted that its quality assurance, food safety, legal, IT and corporate affairs teams also provided guidance. West Michigan Tag and Label, a printing company based in Kentwood, Mich., also participated to provide restaurant-branded tags and ingredient labeling for the food items at no cost.
“Being in the food business — whether a grocery retailer, wholesaler, supplier or restaurant — we all have something in common: helping create an exceptional experience for the guests we serve,” Raya added. “Now, more than ever, we want to provide not only the financial support to our restaurants, but the emotional connectivity to some of West Michigan’s ‘must have’ menu options.”
Restaurants, especially independent operators, are among the hardest-hit business sectors since much of the nation locked down to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Last week, the National Restaurant Association reported that the restaurant industry has lost more than 8 million employees — or two-thirds of its workforce — because of closings from coronavirus. The association estimated that restaurants lost $30 billion in March and are on track to lose $50 billion in April and over $240 billion nationwide by the end of the year.