One thing missing from many (most) supermarkets is atmosphere. Aisle after aisle of bags, boxes, bottles, cans and cartons amount to a mind numbing experience for those consumers. Many critics of the modern shopping experience point to restaurants as a source for new thinking when it comes to creating in-store environments consumers crave. So what would a supermarket look like if an award-winning chef designed it? Standard Foods, opening in Raleigh, NC will start to answer that question next fall.
Chef Scott Crawford, an award-winning executive chef from the Umstead Hotel in Cary, NC, will open a small, 5,500-square-foot grocery store. It will be the only grocery store in downtown Raleigh when it opens.
"Fresh seafood, short ribs, fresh rabbit, quail, local eggs, local milk and the list goes on and on," Mr. Crawford told WNCT. The chef also plans to open a full-service restaurant next to store in 2015.
Mr. Crawford is not the first chef to get into the grocery business. Mario Batali is among a group of investors behind the Eataly Marketplace concept in New York and Chicago. According to its site, "Eataly wants to challenge the idea that quality products are accessible only to a select few. Good eating and shopping is not limited to connoisseurs; it is an agricultural act we all have the right, 'diritto' in Italian, to enjoy."
Supermarkets, most notably Wegmans, have also explored the connection between grocery stores and restaurants. The chain, which operates restaurants both inside and adjacent to its grocery stores, recently had grand reopenings of its "The Pub" restaurants in Malvern and Collegeville. Changes included updated menus, the addition of local craft brews and lower and more family-friendly tables with linen napkins instead of paper.
"We think customers will love what we've done to make these popular dining spots even more appealing," said Kathy Haines, Wegmans' director of in-store restaurants. "We've learned a lot since opening our first Pub about five years ago, and when customers have suggested changes that could improve the experience, we've listened."
How likely are we to see more chefs getting involved in grocery stores in the years to come?