FORT WAYNE, Ind. - Competition between restaurants and supermarkets is gathering steam, the Journal Gazette reports. For example, Kroger is gearing up for a major expansion and renovation initiative costing up to $100 million. Each renovation, expansion or new store will feature a re-done prepared food area, said John Elliott, Kroger spokesman.
"It is something we consider at all of our store investments and remodels. Shoppers can get a roasted chicken, meatloaf and all of the sides that go with it," said Elliott. "People can buy a whole meal, but they€™re not paying a restaurant price. We started seeing increased sales at our deli during the economic downturn, but even with us coming out of the recession, the sales haven€™t slowed down, and we don€™t expect them to."
"This has been going on for some time and not just with grocery stores, but convenience, big-box and drugstores all are offering something," pointed out John Livengood, president and CEO of the Indiana Restaurant Association. "I think our folks can compete with them handily."
George€™s International Market owner Chris Rongos opened George€™s Mexican CafÃ© in his supermarket in 2002. The cafÃ© has garnered a loyal customer base, he said.
"It€™s worked out well," said Rongos. "I really put in the restaurant for customers as a convenience to give them another option while shopping."
Elliott said that Kroger has put a lot of thought into is prepared foods menu and that many customers consider the store a destination for lunch and dinner. "For a lot of people, that is the case," he said. "They can order what they want, continue shopping and then get a real home-cooked meal."