Many restaurants have long relied on bar service to boost sales and margins. In a similar manner, grocers with in-store restaurants and foodservice areas are adding adult beverages to their offerings.
Virtually unheard of a couple of decades ago, it’s not shocking anymore to walk into a store with a large prepared foods area and see a wine bar, where customers can park their cart and sit down for a glass of rose or a pint of beer. Restaurants inside supermarkets also have a drink menu for adults, which often complement the store’s liquor department.
For example, in its Cafe Mueller eatery inside a store in Austin, Texas, H-E-B has a happy hour menu with draft and bottled beers. The Mariano’s chain from Kroger, meanwhile, includes stores with in-store wine bars. In a new store it opened last year in Raleigh, N.C., Harris Teeter added a bar with 16 beers on tap and an array of wines sold by the glass.
In addition to synergy with their own adult beverage items, grocers who offer beer, wine and other drinks through their foodservice area can also leverage partnerships with local distilleries, wineries and breweries. At its store in Chester, Va., for example, Kroger offers a tap list with craft brews from local brands such as Blue Mountain Barrel House in Arrington, Va., and Hardywood Park Craft Brewery in Richmond, Va., among others.
Separating the line between adult beverages in foodservice and grocery shopping, some stores discourage or restrict customers from walking around with wine glasses and beer bottles through the rest of the store. As with bars and restaurants, liquor licenses are required for stores who serve alcohol beverages.
Bill Bishop, chief architect for the Brick Meets Click consulting firm in Barrington, Ill., says that offering adult drinks is yet another way to distinguish a store and its offerings. "Certainly the introduction of adult beverages broadens the appeal for a lot of people, and it’s happening on premises," he remarks.