Kroger's Latest Innovation Gets The Chain Back To Its Roots: Barney Would Be Proud

September 25, 2019

Kroger's Latest Innovation Gets The Chain Back To Its Roots: Barney Would Be Proud

Kroger opens its newest store today in downtown Cincinnati geared for urbanites, Millenials and foodies and is positioned to attract restaurant customers with its 200 seat food hall.

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In the early 1900s Barney Kroger was relentless in his passion and hard work to create the grocery chain that for the most part, still has his name above the door on the company’s 2,759 grocery stores in 35 states across the nation.

Kroger has been one of the most aggressive players to adopt technologies in the supermarket world: robotic warehouses and backrooms, autonomous delivery vehicle testing, Scan, Bag & Go for convenience, OptUP for health & wellness and of course its acquisition of a portion of Dunnhumby’s intelligence engine later renamed to 84.51.

Today Kroger opened a new 52,000 square foot format in downtown Cincinnati is located at 100 East Court Street which is one block away from its corporate headquarters (underscoring its value to test new innovations and plan the Kroger stores of the future as it shows its executives along with the executives from 84.51 the future). From the photos that were sent to me late yesterday – which were taken that day, and what I’ve personally experienced within their stores; and heard from their leaders over the past couple of decades - this store would have made Barney Kroger very very proud. It is all about the food!

While I have not yet visited the store itself, the showpiece is it’s first-ever food hall named On The Rhine Eatery, it is apparent from the 30 or so photos that I was sent that there are many learnings gleaned from their acquisition of Chicago’s Mariano’s back in November of 2015. It has been almost four years, and while frankly I had expected to see a new format sooner, but the wait seems to be worth it (I will do a follow up on the format – and the food – after I visit the store in person… and eat my way through the food hall).

The new store is two-levels and actually has an outdoor walk-up window for its Starbucks for beverage orders (McDonald’s is now testing walk-up windows at a store in the UK as well) and is located with in an 18-story residential high-rise. On The Rhine Eatery is located on the second floor and customers can see the actual supermarket shopping floor below (we requested the number of SKUs on the shopping floor as well as the square footage of the restaurant itself and Kroger would not provide either).

On The Rhine Eatery actually seats 200 customers in both indoor and outdoor seating areas. While it is difficult to view all the various food offerings from the photos, in the press release that accompanied it, they feature Kroger’s second location of its American Restaurant Kitchen 1883(the year Barney officially started Kroger supermarkets after working for other retailers), DOPE! Asian Street FareDjango Western Taco(Mexican/American cuisine), Eli’s BBQ and Queen City Whip which is a popular Cincinnati food truck making its debut in a bricks & mortar environment. Teri Rose, Kroger’s senior director of culinary development said in the press release “the food hall is an example of the types and concepts we’re creating every day.”

Kroger opens today at 6am and offers grocery delivery; On The Rhine Eateryalso plans to add restaurant only delivery in the future.

Rodney McMullen, Kroger’s Chairman and CEO stated in the press release “Kroger’s new store offers something for everyone,” and invited customers to visit, meet their wonderful associates and discover their new favorite restaurant.

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