The Fresh Market has hired a restaurant industry veteran to serve in a newly created foodservice role as the specialty grocery chain continues to bolster its prepared foods offering.
After more than 25 years at casual dining chain Chili’s Grill & Bar, Nathan Baldwin has joined the The Fresh Market as vice president of merchandising for foodservice. In that post, he will oversee a foodservice team and lead all aspects of The Fresh Market’s new “kitchens” concept, including design, workflow, operations, product selection, merchandising and profit/loss accountability, the Greensboro, North Carolina-based retailer said.
Baldwin reports directly to Dan Portnoy, chief merchandising officer at The Fresh Market.
“Nathan brings a wealth of experience in the restaurant industry to The Fresh Market, which will be key in helping us grow our store concept moving forward,” Portnoy said in a statement. “We look forward his contributions in the years to come.”
More recently, Baldwin served as vice president of restaurant services for Chili’s. In that role at the Dallas-based chain, he designed, simplified and executed operational strategy and innovation to support more than 1,350 company-owned and franchised restaurants, according to The Fresh Market.
Baldwin started his career at Chili’s in 1997 as a restaurant manager and was promoted to general manager three years later. He then worked his way up to various roles in the company’s corporate office, including as senior director of culinary operations, vice president of operation services, and vice president of strategic growth and franchise development before becoming restaurant services VP in January 2020. He earned his B.B.A. in restaurant and hotel management from the Anderson School of Management at The University of New Mexico.
The Fresh Market now operates 160 stores in 22 states and in recent years has spotlighted its deli/prepared foods and foodservice offerings, including under its “What’s for dinner tonight?” tagline. In October 2021, the grocer unveiled a “reinvented” culinary experience in an upgrade of its Greensboro flagship store, headlined by the debut of a carry-out, made-to-order restaurant concept and a just-roasted “coffee by the cup” station. Last April's opening of the retailer’s 47th Florida store in Palm Beach Gardens—and its 160th location overall—features a similar foodservice concept, including barbecue, roasts, brick-oven pizza, sandwiches, salads, sushi and tacos, as well as smoothies and fresh-roasted specialty coffee.