Progressive Grocer Independent

FEB 2016

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16 | Progressive Grocer Independent | February 2016 2016 I N D E P E N D E N T S OUTSTANDING DELI/PREPARED FOODS A successful prepared foods department doesn't require a lot of space, as Kaune's Neighborhood Market proves. Te Santa Fe, N.M., grocery store is only 7,500 square feet, but during a 2013 remodel, owner Cheryl Pick Sommer made sure to carve out 500 square feet for a new prepared foods department — just enough space for two ovens, a slicer and sinks. Sommer also managed to squeeze in a new stovetop at the beginning of this year. About 18 months prior to the remodel, the store began introducing house-made sandwiches to replace the ones Kaune's had been bringing in from other local vendors. Te success of the sandwiches led Sommer to add in the prepared foods department while planning the remodel. Te department was designed around a chopped-style salad bar, the only one of its kind in Santa Fe, according to Sommer. Customers select their preferred lettuce type, toppings and salad dressings at the bar, which is located behind the counter. An employee then uses a chopping tool to cut the salad up into bite-sized pieces before emptying it into a large takeout bowl. "It's really taken of," she says. "It's something that people come in for. Tat's what sets us apart." Rotisserie chickens are the most popu- lar item, but the department also does a big business with its house-made salads, including three varieties of chicken salad — chipotle, curry and regular — tuna salad; orzo salad made with orzo pasta and fresh peppers; and a cucumber-and-onion salad. In the winter, a daily soup also is available. Since the remodel, the prepared foods de- partment has experienced the most growth of any department in the store. Sommer admits it's easy to grow from nothing, "but even year over year from last year, it contin- ues to grow. From that perspective, it's been very successful." Kaune's Neighborhood Market, Santa Fe, N.M. Mackenthun's Fine Foods, Waconia, Minn. S ometimes staying within the family is best. "We use old family recipes," says Kim Mackenthun, owner of Mackenthun's Fine Foods, in Waconia, Minn. "I think that's the biggest point of diferentiation in our deli." When it comes to products on ofer, the department holds onto those old family recipes that work. "We just stick with the best of the best of what we've had in our lifetimes, what our families have served over the years that we've really enjoyed," he says. Customers are responding. Tey come to Mackenthun's for a variety of prepared foods, from main dishes to sides, espe- cially the baked beans, which feature Mackenthun's house- cured bacon (Te store has its own smokehouse). "We have a recipe for the best baked beans you've ever eaten in your life," Mackenthun notes. "We'll sell hundreds and hundreds of pounds of them every week in the summer." Customers can choose hot items that are ready to serve or heat-and-eat products that need to be warmed up in the oven or on the grill. A signature Daily Dinner meal is featured every night, and the selection rarely changes. For example, Monday is meatloaf, Tuesday is three varieties of meatballs and Friday is barbecued ribs. Since 2008, Mackenthun's also has operated a cooking school, Te Next Course, with its own chef as part of the grocer's prepared foods department, as a way to set itself apart from the many diferent types of retail businesses now ofering food. Classes are held from two to six times a month and cover the gamut of food occasions, from healthy appetizers to gluten-free to Asian meals. Te classes cost $25 each, unless a guest chef is appearing; then the price is $30, and customers also receive a $10 gift card. Tis reliance on the tried and true, combined with experi- mentation in the cooking classes, is paying dividends. "Our deli department is growing at a faster pace than any other de- partment in the store," Mackenthun says. "It's growing twice as fast as any other department. I think, over the years, customers have become able to rely on it as a great source for their meals."

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