Craft cocktails + comfort food = growth for Kroger
America’s leading supermarket chain is going after a major growth opportunity by opening its very first restaurant near the company’s Cincinnati headquarters.
The new restaurant concept, Kitchen 1883, will be located adjacent to a new Kroger Marketplace store in Union, Ken., and will aim to offer a fresh take on new American comfort food, serving lunch, dinner and weekend brunch.
"With Kitchen 1883, our goal is to create a gathering place that offers a genuinely delicious place to relax and experience our food," said Daniel Hammer, Kroger's vice president of Culinary Development and New Business. "The restaurant will feature a made-from-scratch menu, hand-crafted cocktails and a community-centered atmosphere."
Kroger's move into restaurants make sense for a company that has been looking to innovative concepts to re-ignite slow sales growth. Early this month Kroger shares dropped after the grocer's second-quarter profit slid near 8 percent. Comps for the quarter also declined, to 0.7%.
Kroger's new Kitchen 1883 concept aims to create new competition for fast-food chains and traditional restaurants. Grocery store restaurants, or grocerants, are increasingly popular with consumers looking for restaurant quality food at a lower price. Grocerants generated 2.4 billion visits and $10 billion in sales in 2016, according to The NPD Group. And grocerant visits have increased close to 30% since 2008.
Earlier this year, Kroger expanded its ready-to-eat meal selection, as well as meal kits, in over 120 Marketplace locations, which the company says is one of its “primary growth formats for the future." Marketplace customers can find everything they would at Target or Walmart, in addition to wine bars with craft beer, dine-in areas with flat-screen TVs and fireplaces, and an emergency health care clinic.
Kitchen 1883's "New American Comfort" menu is a melting pot of American and international flavors. Located at 9003 U.S. Highway 42 in Union, Ken., the restaurant is scheduled to open in late October.
Kroger operates 2,793 retail food stores under a variety of local banner names in 35 states and the District of Columbia.