As food retailers gain more experience providing prepared-foods solutions for their customers, they are carefully selecting restaurant partners or developing concepts themselves that meet the needs of their shoppers.
Some operators that had previously relied primarily on in-house foodservice have begun bringing in more restaurant concepts from outside, especially local brands or others whose offerings are an especially good fit.
Whole Foods Market has been bringing in small local or specialty restaurant brands for several years, and Hy-Vee made a splash with its Wahlburgers partnership, bringing that well-known chain to its customers in the Midwest.
More recently, Kroger Co. has begun partnering with some small restaurant brands, including Eli’s Barbecue, Rapid Fire Pizza and Mazunte Taqueria. Kroger’s Mariano’s banner now appears to be following that playbook, rolling out the Pork & Mindy’s barbecue concept to several Chicagoland stores.
Other operators introducing new concepts include Meijer, which opened a Mayan Buzz Café in its new Bridge Street Market store in Grand Rapids, Mich.; Price Chopper Supermarkets, which has been rolling out concepts and menu items that it tests at its Market Bistro store in Latham, N.Y.; and Rouses Markets, which complements its in-house barbecue and sandwich concepts with a branded Asian stir-fry offering.
FRESH CONCEPTS IN FOODSERVICE
• Mariano's finds a barbecue partner >>
• Price Chopper’s proving ground for food concepts >>
• Meijer creates buzz with high-end coffee partner >>
• Rouses adds variety with Asian stir fry and sushi >>