On any given day before COVID-19, grocery stores and restaurants operated within different spheres, serving the needs of either the home cook, or those who would rather eat out for their next meal. But a new program pioneered by SpartanNash
has linked the two industries here in West Michigan, showcasing how food businesses can quickly innovate to support each other when restaurants’ dine-in service has been shut down due to the Stay Home order, and grocery stores have become a lifeline—and some individuals’ only expedition outside of their homes.
“The whole program came together very very quickly,” says Meredith M. Gremel, Vice President, Corporate Affairs & Communications and Executive Director, SpartanNash Foundation. Seeking to assist local restaurants reach their customers in the most efficient way possible, Gremel, along with Dan Estelle, Director, Meat & Seafood for SpartanNash reached out to a variety of restaurants located near SpartanNash stores in West Michigan, offering to sell some of their products in store, with 100% of the proceeds benefitting the restaurant itself.
Launching on April 23, the Restaurant Meals to Go
program offers familiar, pre-prepared menu items from local restaurants in the deli departments of 25 participating SpartanNash stores, including Family Fare, D&W Fresh Market, Forest Hills Foods, and Ada Fresh Market. Working with the restaurant owners and chefs to determine which menu items would travel, package, and reheat well, Estelle formed a cross-departmental team of SpartanNash staff, including those from packaging, quality assurance, merchandising, and more to realize the project.
“We had great relationships with these partners,” says Gremel, referring to the seven current restaurants in the program, including Anna’s House, City Built Brewing Co., Cedar Springs Brewing Company, and Osteria Rossa. With comforting items like Anna’s monkey bread and Osteria’s Meatballs in San Marzano tomato sauce, SpartanNash shoppers can take a break from quarantine cooking for a “Fun, date night experience at home…or an opportunity to try new cuisines,” says Gremel. “All you have to do is just heat it up.”
West Michigan Tag & Label
also stepped up, volunteering to produce the food labels at no cost to SpartanNash or the participating restaurants. “They’ve never had to do packaging and labeling," says Gremel, referring to restaurant owners and chefs, who are used to delivering food directly to their customers’ plates. With the intricacies of packaging and labeling handled by local pros, the chefs need only focus on the food itself.
“It’s been such a cool and fun project,” says Gremel.“[The meals have] been selling like hotcakes. And just one week after launching Restaurant Meals to Go, "the restaurants are ramping up production,” she adds.
To find out more about the participating restaurants, meals, and grocery stores in your neighborhood, visit the Restaurant Meals to Go website
In a time when going out is scary, this local, innovative partnership is redefining one-stop-shopping, supporting local restaurants, and offering much-needed respite in a time of uncertainty.
“We kind of feel like they are our brethren,” says Gremel. “The restaurants couldn’t be more excited about the partnership.”
Photos and video courtesy SpartanNash.