Kroger's Latest Gimmick Is in Good Taste -- a Food Hall

The leading supermarket chain is testing the European dining concept at a new store near its headquarters.


Daniel B. Kline, The Motley Fool

Oct 2, 2019


In the world of brick-and-mortar retail, the bar keeps getting higher. People don't even have to leave their homes to shop for groceries anymore. It's easy and inexpensive for most Americans to place online orders for delivery, or they can split the difference, do their shopping from the couch, and run out briefly to retrieve their food via curbside pickup.


For the supermarket chains that want to lure customers into stores, it all means that they have to work a bit harder to give folks reasons to visit.


What people remain quite willing to do, however, is leave the house to eat (even though food delivery options are on the rise, too). That's why Kroger (NYSE:KR) has decided to test a new option to lure hungry customers -- a European-style food hall.


What did Kroger build?


The supermarket giant has added a second-floor food hall to the second floor of its new 52,000-square-foot store in downtown Cincinnati. Called On the Rhine, it features booths run by a number of local restaurants including Django Western Taco, DOPE! Asian Street Fare, Eli's BBQ, and Queen City Whip, as well as Kitchen 1883 Café and Bar, Kroger's American food restaurant concept.


In addition to a 200-seat dining area for those who want to eat on-site, the food hall offers ready-made "grab-and-go" meals. The new store also has a Starbucks housed on the first floor with a beverage window -- a design intended to quickly serve walk-up customers.


The new Kroger -- located just a block from corporate headquarters -- occupies the first two floors of an 18-story building that is otherwise residential. That location choice gives both the store and the food hall experiment a bit of a leg up, given that hundreds of potential customers literally live right on top of it.


Kroger Senior Director of Grocery Development Teri Rose implied that it's a prototype for potential locations elsewhere. "Cincinnati is Kroger's hub for culinary innovation and experimentation, and the food hall is an example of the types of concepts and ideas we're creating every day," she said.


Will this work? ...


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