It’s common knowledge for operators that shopping and eating often go hand-in-hand. For many, a leisurely bout of retail therapy also includes a relaxing meal to celebrate a fantastic bargain or a comforting cocktail to sooth a little fitting room distress.
Restaurants and bars across the country are realizing the potential of the daytime shopper and in response they are creating elegant cocktails and delicious dishes directed toward this mid-day consumer. Grocery stores, home decorating outlets and even department stores are all getting their feet wet in the on-premise business as many have realized the potential of welcoming shoppers with an impromptu chance at decadent drinking and dining.
The proximity to retail space is what makes these combined retail concepts and restaurants unique. The operations utilize their association with retail venues and have learned to customize drinks and menu items based on time requirements. There is a niche for elegant pit stops, whether or not your bar/restaurant is connected with a grocery store or a department store. Everyone offers a lunch, but these venues offer limited lunch and brunch menus and specialty drinks that enhance what’s on the plate. These venues experience substantial dinner business, but they’ve also experienced a healthy up-kick in terms of daytime menu orders from shoppers wanting more than a fast-food stop in the food court.
A department store restaurant is not a revolutionary amenity for shoppers. However, restaurateurs in high-trafficked shopping areas are increasingly learning to entice their shoppers with the chance to enjoy some on-the-go opulence. Custom-made cocktails pared with signature dishes, either at brunch, lunch or just for a snack, are being encouraged within the comforting compounds of retail.
“We cater to shoppers who work up an appetite,” says Justin Trickett, assistant to the general manager at Barney Greengrass, a more designer take on the popular New York City deli.
Encouraging the Elegance
Located in Beverly Hills, Calif.—at the top level of the Wilshire Blvd. department store Barney Greengrass entices shoppers with an elegant escape via the restaurant’s outdoor patio and views of the famed Hollywood sign. “We appeal to shoppers who want to take a break and enjoy a fantastic meal, a signature cocktail and a great view.”
Barney Greengrass features a marble vodka-and-caviar bar, premium cold cuts and gourmet salads priced between $9 and $12. As Trickett explains, the weekend brunch crowd is typically the largest, commonly filling all 200 seats in the restaurant. “Brunch customers also are more leisurely and are more apt to have a cocktail,” Trickett adds. “Therefore, a lot of our signature drinks are designed to complement our brunch menu.”
A brunch-time staple for the restaurant remains its signature Bloody Mary. According to Trickett, red chilies provide heat and A.1. Steak Sauce is added for pungent flavor. The drink is garnished and priced at $10 to $12.
Shoppers cooling their heals at Barney Greengrass also can enjoy the restaurant’s house-made Red and White Sangria ($11) or Blackberry Mojito ($13), which is made with fresh mint, a raspberry rum and simple syrup.
Considering the time balance between shopping and making time to eat, Whole Foods Market tries to offer shoppers the ultimate in multi-tasking. In 2009, the Austin, Texas-based grocery retailer opened a flagship concept in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood called Eat, Drink, Socialize and Shop.
Upon entrance to three-story grocery complex, shoppers pass through the store’s 1550 bar, which gives a nod to the site’s address. The 1550 is fully stocked, serving bottled and draft beers, as well as more than a dozen varieties of red, white and sparkling wines, priced at $5 a glass. The cocktails are seasonal and customized, using Whole Foods brand ingredients when possible, such as the 360 Brand ginger ale and fresh-grown produce for flavoring and garnishes. Whole Foods is still testing the waters to see if the concept takes.
The bar-in-store concept is a prototype for Whole Foods. The Lincoln Park location caters to the urban residents and shoppers in the posh Chicago neighborhood where the clientele consists mostly of young professionals. The 1550 bar is a meeting place for the neighborhood, featuring flat-screen TVs, a stage for live music and an ambiance that invites area shoppers to relax and have a drink.
Summer brings a handful of specialty drink items to the 1550, such as the “Summer Faves—Local Loving Cocktails” list. The drinks are priced at $8 each. Included on the local lineup is the Summer Hummin’ made with Hum botanical spirit, Whole Foods’ ginger ale, cucumber and basil. The Bubbly Fizz features Koval Chrysanthemum Honey Liqueur and peach nectar sparkling wine. For the tea lovers in the store, there is the Whole Season Punch made with Rishi peach rooibos tea, house sour mix, Hum botanical spirit, local strawberries and mint. The bar-in-store concept is a prototype for Whole Foods. The Lincoln Park location caters to the urban residents and shoppers in the posh Chicago neighborhood where the clientele consists mostly of young professionals. The 1550 bar is a meeting place for the neighborhood, featuring flat-screen TVs, a stage for live music and an ambiance that invites area shoppers to relax.”
Rushed, Yet Relaxed
When it comes to mid-day eating and drinking, time is always an issue. Evan Darnell, general manager of David Burke at Bloomingdale’s, says his one-location operation caters to consumers who are high-end, yet time-pressed. “We’re the busiest at lunch—we see women meeting friends for lunch, business professionals meeting clients and tourists who want to experience the Manhattan landmark of Bloomingdale’s,” he says. “These types of customers aren’t sitting down for a two-hour meal: they have a lot on their agendas.” An added plus is that in Burke’s space at Bloomingdale’s, as at Whole Foods, the retail space is used to promote the bar menu.
David Burke at Bloomingdale’s is a dual operation that offers a chic, full-service Burke Bar Cafe on one side and a more casual Burke in the Box take-out and eat-in concept on the other. The Burke Bar Cafe restaurant takes into consideration its high-end and hurried clientele by offering a number of elegant and easy-to-prepare cocktails, such as the White or Red Sangria and the Cucumber Basil Martini made with Stolichnaya Elit and a house-made sweetener. All cocktails are priced between $10 and $12.
As Darnell explains, the David Burke at Bloomingdale’s restaurant has a valuable relationship with the department store. Restaurant specials such as the “Five Cocktails, Four Courses, $50,” are promoted in elevators throughout the store, and Bloomingdale’s employees promote the restaurant as a perfect place for a quick meal and a drink.
Menu items for the lunch crowd include the Lobster Bisque and Apple Salad ($9) and the Prosciutto, Basil and Arugula Pizza ($16), which can be shared and enjoyed between fellow shopaholics.
In today’s shopping eateries, elegance is key and time sensitivity is a must. From L.A. to New York City, and from Whole Foods to Barneys, the hurried shopper is one to cater to. Fixed menus with suggested drinks entice these sorts of customers, and an opportunity to sit and relish in a successful day of shopping is always encouraged.