Hy-Vee continues to make operational changes that were first announced with its Helpful Smile 2020 initiative introduced last month that also included the elimination of 24-hour stores.
The West Des Moines, Iowa-based grocer is transitioning all 21 of its Market Grille full-service restaurants to casual, counter-service Wahlburgers by early summer. The grocer entered into a franchise agreement with the hamburger chain in 2017 to open 26 Wahlburgers locations—currently six of those locations have opened. Both Hy-Vee and Wahlburgers declined to comment on whether these transitions were part of the original partnership agreement. The fast casual Market Grille Express concept operating in some stores will not be changed or affected.
The locations that will be affected are:Prairie Trail Hy-Vee (Ankeny, Iowa); Bloomington Hy-Vee (Illinois); Brooklyn Park Hy-Vee (Minnesota); Edgewood Hy-Vee (Cedar Rapids, Iowa); Rock Bridge Hy-Vee (Columbia, Mo.); Cottage Grove Hy-Vee (Minnesota); Fourth + Court Hy-Vee (Des Moines, Iowa); Eagan Hy-Vee (Minnesota); Kearney Hy-Vee (Nebraska); Lakeville Hy-Vee (Minnesota); Lee’s Summit East Hy-Vee (Missouri); New Hope Hy-Vee (Minnesota); Oakdale Hy-Vee (Minnesota); Grand Prairie Hy-Vee (Peoria, Ill.); West Circle Hy-Vee (Rochester, Minn.); Savage Hy-Vee (Minnesota); Shakopee Hy-Vee (Minnesota); Springfield Hy-Vee (Illinois); Urbandale Hy-Vee (Iowa); Waukee Hy-Vee (Iowa); and Mills Civic Hy-Vee (West Des Moines, Iowa)
During the transition, the dining areas of the restaurants will remain open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m., serving a modified Market Grille menu that includes breakfast, appetizers, burgers, sandwiches and other daily specials that will be available for order from a kiosk. The full-service bar will remain open. The transition is expected to be completed for all locations by early summer, but grand opening dates will be announced later, said Christina Gayman, director of public relations for Hy-Vee.
Staff will remain employees of Hy-Vee, but some will transition to other areas of the store, some may choose to join the Walburgers team and some will be let go. A story in the Minneapolis Star Tribune indicated that only a handful of one local store’s staff had been asked to remain.
Closing of Fulfillment Centers
Other changes for the grocer also include the closing of its four e-commerce fulfillment centers is Omaha, Neb., Des Moines, Iowa, Kansas City and Eagan, Minn. As of March 23, Hy-Vee will transition its Aisles Online fulfillment back to local stores. This move also is part of the Helpful Smiles 2020 initiative.
“We are listening to our customers, and they are wanting a full assortment of products, personalized shoppers and same-day pickup at the store, which we are unable to fully provide when we process orders at a fulfillment center,” Gayman said.
Some of the fulfillment center employees will transition back to the stores to become part of the stores’ Aisles Online team. Gayman couldn’t provide specific numbers as the company is currently working to help employees find other opportunities either within in the company or outside it. One report indicated that more than 350 jobs would be eliminated in Iowa, while 600 people would be affected in Kansas City, 300 would be impacted in Eagan and more than 500 are employed at the Omaha facility.