Restaurants-as-Markets Model Not a Passing Fad


By Victoria Campisi, The Food Institute

May 20, 2020


The hybrid restaurant-grocery store has become a viable business model for struggling locations, reported Bloomberg (May 20).


Several establishments are even planning to keep it going after restrictions start lifting. Many independent restaurants intend to allocate more of their dining space to groceries, offering butcher shops, spices, and baking mixes, while others consider expanding to nearby vacant storefronts for markets and bakeries.


Notably, national chain Panera Bread began selling groceries (such as breads, bagels, milk, yogurt, and fresh produce) at the beginning of April as restaurant sales plummeted, reported CNBC (April 8). Now, local chains are also seeing the value of following this business model.


New York-based Il Buco Alimentari e Vineria is adding a "concierge butcher" for specific cuts of meat, as well as options such as porchetta, shoulder roll roast, and fresh sausages. “More than the idea that we’re going to revolutionize the menu, we’re trying to rebuild our business and see what it can look like,” said owner Donna Lennard.


Prior to the pandemic, the deli accounted for only 10% to 15% of sales, and now market sales make up 50% to 60% of business at the restaurant. “If it settles at 25% to 30% of our business, that will be amazing,” said Lennard.


Popular Brooklyn bar and café Fort Defiance transitioned to Fort Defiance General Store—a move that could also be permanent. “I have a bad feeling about operating as a full service bar and restaurant again,” said owner St. John Frizell. Frizell now stocks 150 items for pickup and is investing in grocery store equipment, including a $6,000 chicken rotisserie and $3,000 dairy case...


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