- Hy-Vee is upping the number of stores with prepared foods, according to Retail Wire. Currently just under half of its 244 stores have either full-service Market Grille restaurants or limited-service Market Grille Expresses.
- The retailer plans to add several dozen new restaurant locations each year. "Statistics show that more people are eating out, so our in-store restaurants give them what they’re looking for," Matt Dougan, Hy-Vee's vice president of procurement told the publication.
- Hy-Vee recently added five new programs in the Twin Cities: a Sweet Shoppe, a Hibachi Asian Grill, a juice and smoothie island, a made-to-order Cocina Mexicana and a Hickory House Comfort Foods area.
Hy-Vee has already found success with its full-service Market Grille restaurants and limited-service Market Grille Expresses. It's investing heavily in more prepared food options, such as grab-and-go offerings and other in-store restaurants like Dia Pida Italian Street Food and Long Island Deli.
Analysts say investing in restaurant operations can often be risky for retailers, but Hy-Vee has seen success with a slightly upmarket dining experience and trendy offerings such as craft beer, breakfast skillets and flatbreads.
Studies show foodservice has been increasing 50% faster than the supermarket business, so it seems to be a savvy move to increase that part of the business while it's attracting customers. In fact, foodservice's share of spending now represents more than half of all U.S. food sales, according to a study published by Acosta and Technomic Inc.
Last month, Hy-Vee announced it was restructuring its corporate departments to concentrate more on three divisions—health and wellness, restaurant operations and information technology. This move is a clear indication that it's already full-steam ahead with that strategy.
The grocer has been experimenting with new ways to bring people to its stores for quite some time. Other attempts have included opening concept stores that offer clothing, a special beauty and cosmetics department, and a glass-room wine cellar with more than 1,500 bottles on display.
With Amazon, Wal-Mart, Freshdirect and Instacart capturing more sales online, Hy-Vee is doing all it can to make consumers want to come to its stores instead by offering more things to do and foods to eat. These offerings also help differentiate them from other brick-and-mortar grocers who may still be selling traditional food and other household items. Hy-Vee knows that updating its store menu is the only way to remain relevant in today's rapidly changing grocery landscape.