Dana Tanyeri, Managing Editor
By Valerie Killifer, Contributing Editor
Published: Winter 2014
Krista was quoted in this article by Restaurant Development + Design magazine, excerpted below.
Shopping for Restaurant Customers
While supermarkets that feature dining areas aren’t a new trend in the U.S., the push to create the ultimate shopping and dining experience is changing the way consumers view a trip to the grocery store. It also changes the way restaurant operators view their competition.
“Supermarkets are targeting the restaurant customer because prepared foods have become a strong avenue for growth for retailers. They have the ability to offer restaurant-quality meals for reasonable prices, and many supermarkets are doing so in creative, innovative ways,” notes Wade Hanson, a principal at Technomic, the Chicago-based market research firm. “Consumers now view supermarkets as a very real alternative to restaurant dining in many instances.”
One reason for grocers’ interest in the restaurant business is that it represents a way for them to stave off sales erosion brought on by other retailers entering the grocery business. As a result, restaurants face potential sales declines as supermarkets cash in on dining occasions that were once outside of their realm.
In-Store Dining Redesigned
As part of Hy-Vee’s restaurant evolution, the company is making significant design changes to its in-store dining areas. The upgrades include new booths, tables, lighting and decor. Additionally, Hy-Vee’s restaurants will feature liquor sales for the first time, with Market Cafes selling wine and beer and Market Grill locations featuring a full bar. The restaurants also will have several flat-screen televisions, as do many QSR and casual-dining players.
“Based on our research and the listening that we did [from customer input], this is what a large number of our customers are looking for in the evening as compared to a self-service or food-court type of atmosphere that’s been popular at lunch,” Comer says. “We want our restaurants to reflect the culinary expertise we now have. With the introduction of more trained chefs and foodservice experts in our stores, this is the next logical step.”
Similar to other supermarkets, Hy-Vee now designs its spaces to be more inviting to shoppers and to evoke a separate feel from consumers’ shopping experience. The goal is to capture more of the consumer’s food dollar, now being spent at restaurant operations across the street and across the country.
“All of the spaces are being designed with purpose,” says interior designer Krista Watterworth, who has designed restaurants for the Food Network television show “Restaurant: Impossible.” She explains, “It’s really about creating intimacy in the vastness of the commercial space.”
Additionally, these supermarket restaurants feature natural materials such as wood and flooring that differ from what consumers experience in the grocery space. More important, the dine-in areas do not reflect the design or experience of a food court.
“The way we live, we’re on the fly constantly, so grocers are creating a space where people can stop and sit for 20 minutes and make that part of their shopping routine,” Watterworth says. “It’s a great way for people to relax, and it’s also a great way to advertise products. The way that we market today is so much more organic, and I think that’s part of this whole thing. Our lives are becoming more integrated with our needs, both our commercial needs and our product needs.”
To combat the consumer mindset that supermarkets and grocery stores can’t deliver an intimate and comfortable restaurant experience, retailers continue to look for ways they can lead the trend, rather than go along with it.
Read the entire article at rddmag.com.