In this On Foodable Insight Series episode, we catch up with Mariano’s Amanda Puck, director of strategic brand development, and Gary Zickel, manager of foodservice operations, to find out how Mariano’s keeps up with consumer demand for a restaurant experience at the grocery store.
Zickel — who used to provide restaurant quality sushi to Mariano’s from his own sushi restaurants six years ago and now brings restaurant quality food into the grocery chain full time — tells Foodable that Mariano’s provides an experience customers can’t get enough of. The proof is in the amount of time customers spend in store. Based on customer feedback, Zickel recounts the experience of the customers of some of the urban stores. The two hours of free parking provided by Mariano’s just isn’t enough, according to Zickel, because customers are sitting down for dinner, getting dessert afterward, and then doing the grocery shopping.
Part of the restaurant experience provided by Mariano’s is the Café, where customers can sit down to enjoy coffee, bakery, and an array of prepared foods; the Grill Station where meats and seafoods picked up in store can be prepared on site at no charge; a wine bar; an onsite dietician available for nutrition consulting and education for the more health conscious consumer; and pick up and/or delivery service of groceries for customers looking for convenience.
The opportunities in terms of delivery are immense for the chain — from barbecue and smokehouse items to sushi and pizza.
The groceraunt experience — the restaurant experience in the grocery store — is all front of the house so the associates have to be personable, be able to communicate, know what it is they are serving, and be pleasant, Zickel says. “Those are our ambassadors in the kitchen who are going to bring the customers back to us.”
To accomplish this, Puck says they work with an amazing team of chefs, lifestyle and fitness experts, among others, who love to shop in Mariano’s stores. These Mariano’s Tastemakers are also featured in ad campaigns and events showcasing the brands they love.