BUFFALO, N.Y. — Wegmans' newest location outside of Boston, Massachusetts is one of the grocery chain's three largest stores and unlike any of its other locations.
It's located in a mall, spans two levels, and has a full-service Mexican restaurant inside...including a tequila bar. There's also another restaurant — The Burger Bar — and a coffee shop that transitions to a bar/lounge later in the day. The location also offers a wine tasting room.
It's not your average place to fill your cart. Wegmans, Whole Foods, and others are redefining grocery stores by adding more amenities, like bars and restaurants, even bocce ball courts (like Whole Foods' Amherst location).
Phil Lempert aka The Supermarket Guru, is a food marketing expert. He says grocers are looking for new ways to attract and keep customers and boost their bottom lines.
"The more of that 'share of stomach' that a grocery store can own, the better for their bottom line. Also, they are building up a better relationship with that shopper," said Lempert. "The customer isn't just going to shop on price alone because you're building a more personal relationship with someone if they are going to eat at your grocery store."
So will we see a double decker Wegmans attached to a mall in Western New York?
"We never say never, but it's possible that this is a unique model that we don't replicate. One of the challenges with malls is adequate parking for a supermarket customer. That's what was unique about this five deck parking garage [in Natick, MA] which is pretty much dedicated to our store," said Jo Natale, Vice President of Media Relations for Wegmans.
Natale added that the company was looking to expand in that community for several years but couldn't find an appropriate space until the former JC Penney site opened up.
Wegmans have been doing Market Cafes in their stores for a few decades, but nowadays they're more restaurant focused.
"Restaurants have just allowed us to take it up a notch, raise the bar with our culinary expertise and talent, and we think it's what customers are looking for," said Natale.
At Tops we continue to be responsive to our customers wants and needs. As we remodel our stores, especially those in Western New York, we look to what we have learned from our business model at our Orchard Fresh store which has been well received. This includes a focus on fresh prepared foods, organic offerings, more variety, and staying true to our national brand retailers.