Date Night: Dinner & Grocery Shopping?

June 15, 2010

The market-restaurant concept is not a novel idea.

The market-restaurant concept is not a novel idea. Across Europe, consumers can habit hundreds of market concepts with restaurant stalls like Barcelona’s La Boqueria Market, which originated as an open-air market where fruit and vegetable traders from local towns and farms nearby would sell their products.
In the U.S., independent restaurant/bistro concepts have been added to specialty markets or visa versa. Stores the likes of A Southern Season in Chapel Hill, N.C. or Oak Park, IL-based Marion Street Cheese Market have successfully added full-service, upscale restaurants to their food stores.
The concept is not one unfamiliar to grocers who have incorporated fast-food franchise outlets under their roofs in some areas. With media attention focused on healthy choices and American over-consumption, now may well be the time to refocus efforts on in-store dining.
Marketing new or existing concepts as destinations with events like ‘Date Nights’ or programs for harried parents allowing dinner with the family as a concierge service does their grocery shopping so it’s ready to go at the end of the meal will build the concept at supermarkets.
Some advantages for grocers include the fact that restaurants have lost a large gross of consumers to the recession. More people are “dining out at home,’ and as the economy slowing improves, moving these consumers to dining out at the grocery store is a viable option. Grocers have the edge with being the place consumers’ associate as being a safe, convenient source for fresh food. So it’s only logical that an on-site restaurant would offer product that’s considered fresher and healthier than restaurant fare.
A recent Associated Press article examined this phenomenon that spiked during the recession and now is holding its own. According to article, “the grocer-as-quick-serve-restaurant model has done well in the recession, in part because the convenience is good and cost is low. But even as the economy upticks slightly, ready-to-eat food continues to drive more traffic to grocery stores, increasingly blurring the traditional boundaries between supermarkets and restaurants.”?

Industry analysts say prepared foods are a growth area for many chains. Supermarkets saw a one percent increase in sales of takeout eaten at home for the year ending in March even as total restaurant industry traffic was down three percent during the same period, according to The NPD Group, a Port Washington, N.Y.-based market research firm.