Restaurants Combining with Retail Stores to Drum up Sales

As COVID-19 continues to dampen sales at restaurants, some are trying a new strategy by opening in retail stores, which have profited from the pandemic.

Hy-Vee Inc. is preparing to open its 20th Wahlburgers at a Hy-Vee restaurant on Dec. 8 in Columbia, MO, reported Winsight Grocery Business (Dec. 2). The grocer announced plans that it’s opening an additional 24 restaurants across its eight-state region in 2021.

The location will include most of the same menu options as usual, including signature burgers, home-style sides, housemade condiments, salads, sandwiches, shakes, and a full-service bar. A full menu will be available to order online via Hy-Vee Mealtime to Go.

Interestingly, the Wahlburgers/Hy-Vee partnership started long before the pandemic. In 2017, Hy-Vee revealed it would build, own, and operate 26 Wahlburgers restaurants to diversify its business model. The first location opened in 2018 at Mall of America in Bloomington, MN.

Another chain that implemented this idea before the pandemic was Saladworks. The move to open Saladworks restaurants within grocery chains began in 2019 when the chain opened its first in-store location at a ShopRite in Philadelphia, reported Supermarket News (Nov. 24). Currently, Saladworks has restaurants in seven grocery stores in Pennsylvania, Maryland, and New York—with more than 10 new openings planned during the first quarter of 2021.

More recently, the chain opened its first location in a Kroger store in Cincinnati and, prior to that, debuted in a Giant Company supermarket in Camp Hill, PA.

“Grocery stores are an exciting growth area for our brand,” said Eric Lavinder, VP of development for Saladworks. “With COVID-19 bringing safety challenges to self-serve food bars in grocery stores everywhere, guests can feel safe with Saladworks. Guests can get the same great experience and variety at a grocery location as they can at a traditional restaurant.”

Grocery store restaurants for Saladworks also offer shoppers the option to order online through the Saladworks website or by calling ahead for pickup. Shoppers can also have their Saladworks orders delivered using third-party delivery partners like Door Dash, GrubHub, and UberEats.

Meanwhile, Charleys Philly Steaks is opening its newest location in partnership with Walmart, reported QSR Magazine (Nov. 25). This marks the first Charleys opening within a Walmart, with growth plans for 10 more locations next year.

Limited seating is available within the restaurant’s dining space and the store will be offering online ordering, curbside pick-up, and third-party delivery, as well as the brand’s newly launched mobile app and rewards program.

Additionally, the updated store design for Walmart is centered around “fun family experiences” such as arcade games and whimsical design elements. Guests will also enjoy special value priced food bundles available only at Walmart locations.