Can grocers help sit-down restaurants stay afloat with to-go meal programs?
Last Thursday, SpartanNash launched a “Restaurant Meals To Go” program that brings heat-and-eat meals from eight West Michigan restaurants to its store aisles. H-E-B and Rouses Markets previously introduced similar programs supporting a foodservice sector devastated by the pandemic.
In all cases, proceeds go to restaurants.
On a YouTube video, Dan Estelle, director meat and seafood, SpartanNash, said the grocer’s more than 100-year legacy involves helping local farmers, businesses and nonprofits in times of need and “this was obvious an extension of that.”
The SpartanNash program builds on a shift by restaurants to take-out and delivery amid social distancing mandates. The program also helps introduce the restaurants to a wider audience.
The participating restaurants each provide one to five items for offer by select SpartanNash banners. A challenge for restaurants is coming up with items that hold up well if not eaten immediately and dealing with the requirement of retail storage and packaging. SpartanNash’s quality assurance, food safety, labeling and merchandising teams were all involved in bringing the to-go items to stores.
Dave Ringler, director of happiness at German Bavarian-themed Cedar Springs Brewing Company, said his team focused on items that would “travel well, be relatively easy to prepare and still really taste great.”
H-E-B’s program was launched in early April and now supports 16 restaurants in Austin, Houston and San Antonio.
Meals from restaurants across Louisiana can be found in Rouses’ 72 locations. Also, of the 700 new hires Rouses has made to support increased in-store demand due to COVID-19, 260 previously worked at local restaurants. CEO Donny Rouse told Fox News, “Everyone in the restaurant industry loves food, and we love food. It’s a great fit and our customers can see that.”
A national survey conducted by the National Restaurant Association from April 10 and April 16 found that the U.S. restaurant industry has lost two-thirds of its workforce — more than eight million employees — as a result of COVID-19 closures. Many restaurants have abruptly closed their doors and others are struggling to adjust to a to-go model. Continued social distancing guidelines and diner apprehension will limit restaurants’ ability to recover as they are allowed to reopen.
- Restaurant meals to go – SpartanNash
- H-E-B launches program to support Texas restaurants – H-E-B
- Rouses Markets Helps Louisiana Restaurants Find New Ways To Sell – Rouses Markets
- Louisiana grocery store offers jobs, hope to community during coronavirus – Fox News
- Restaurants on track to lose $80 billion in sales by end of April; 8 million employees out of work – National Restaurant Association
- National Restaurant Association issues guidance for restaurants readying to reopen – National Restaurant Association
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: In addition to bringing restaurant to-go meals to their selling floors, how might grocers help support local restaurants capsized by COVID-19? In what ways might the restaurant industry face a more uphill recovery battle than grocery?