Suddenly, going out to the grocery store doesn’t seem like such a chore.
Last summer, Hy-Vee, a chain of Midwestern supermarkets with about 235 locations, introduced a bar and restaurant concept called the Market Grille in its store in Urbandale, Iowa. It’s a fully wait-staffed, sit-down experience, with a fairly upscale menu featuring entrees like ribeye steak and potato crusted cod as entrees, and bacon, jalapeno, and maple wontons for appetizers. An outdoor patio is available to customers during the warmer months. And yes, there’s also a bar stocked with more than 65 craft beers, among other selections.
Since the opening in Iowa, Hy-Vee has expanded the Market Grille to other locations, while also launching a more casual drink-and-dine experience called the Market Café in other spots. Now, reports Supermarket News, Hy-Vee is gearing up to roll out its Markets to all locations, including 75 stores being remodeled to include Market Grilles over the next three years.
While Whole Foods and other grocery chains host in-store dining options that sometimes include bars, when consumers think of going out to toss a few drinks back, the supermarket is probably not top of mind. “This is breaking ground, putting a bar into a grocery store,” John Weiler, a chef at the Urbandale Market Grille, said, according to Supermarket News. “Our goal is to serve some great food, great value, in a fantastic new atmosphere. Just to blow people’s minds as to what Hy-Vee is, what Hy-Vee can do.”
For that matter, the concept could change what people think about going to the supermarket in general. It’ll continue to be the place to get your errands done (i.e., gathering groceries), and seeing as the kitchen is open for breakfast and the bar starts serving alcohol at 11 a.m. there’s the potential this to be a much more fun, perhaps even indulgent experience.
The neighborhood Hy-Vee may never replace the neighborhood watering hole, but the company is certainly encouraging the idea that its supermarkets are places not simply to shop, but to hang out and socialize. The Urbandale Market Grille, for instance, has been hosting social events—think free samples of Irish coffee and Irish soda bread around St. Patrick’s Day.
And the Facebook page of one Hy-Vee Market Café in Madison, Wisc., just announced it is hosting Happy Hour specials Monday to Thursday from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. All domestic bottles are $1 apiece. Just don’t forget about the groceries you were supposed to be picking up.