Safeway Stores' soon to open (May 6), completely remodeled (now 71,000 square foot) supermarket in Washington D.C's Georgetown neighborhood (pictured above) will include arguably the grocery chain's largest and most elaborate in-store branded "Signature Cafe" deli and fresh, prepared foods store-within-a-store to date.
In fact, take away the dry grocery, non-foods and fresh meat and produce departments, and it looks almost like Safeway's "The Market" prepared foods-focused small store format, two stores of which currently exist in Long Beach (opened in May 2008) and San Jose, California (opened in August 2009) respectively.
Of course, that's no accident: Safeway's Signature Cafe prepared foods brand, which the grocer has now extended as a brand for the deli and prepared foods departments in some of its newest built-from-the-ground-up and remodeled stores, is in large part the inspiration for its "The Market" small-format grocery stores.
And like Walmart, which is branding the deli and prepared foods departments in some of its supercenters and Neighborhood Market supermarkets "Marketside" - named after its small-format, fresh, prepared foods-focused stores and fresh, prepared foods brand of the same name - Safeway has figured out that a grocer doesn't need to build a small-format store all its own to be in the "store branded" ready-to-eat and ready-to-heat fresh foods business.
Rather, since both chains have existing mega-real estate in the form of thousands of U.S. stores, why not put that prepared foods store - be it "Signature Cafe" or "Marketside" - in existing stores, in the form of a branded store-within-a-store deli/prepared foods department and cafe.
The "Signature Cafe" in the soon to open two-story Georgetown Safeway (its Lifestyle format) store (pictured above), also called the "Social Safeway" because of the 'who's who' of Washington DC politicos and others that shop there, is indeed both a real eat-in cafe and a prepared foods store-within-a-store.
It's jam-packed with ready-to-eat and ready-to-heat fresh, prepared foods of all kinds. There's all of the Signature Cafe store brand ready-to-heat packaged entrees and side dishes, merchandised in self-serve refrigerated cases, for example.
There's also fresh, prepared foods (salads, entrees, snacks, sides and more) and deli items (lunch meats, cheeses and the like of every kind) merchandised in bulk, behind full-service cases. It's old fashion deli meets new-age self-serve prepared foods shop.
Add a mini-pizza parlor with fresh baked pizzas, a sandwich bar, and an Italian gelato bar to the mix.
There's also grab and go sections for other foods and beverages, along with separate pay stations, so that customers using the "Signature Cafe" don't have to use the store's central check outs in order to pay for foods they either eat-in or take-out. Think that store-within-a-store concept.
Additionally, there's a modern wood burning fireplace in the "Signature Cafe." Around the fireplace are numerous tables and chairs where customers can sit and eat. There's wide-screen flat-panel television screens and free WiFi in the cafe, which also has a balcony with a view of busy Wisconsin Avenue.
Of course, such features are only fitting for a store nicknamed the "Social Safeway."
Safeway closed the Georgetown store a little over a year ago for the remodeling. When it opens on May 6, we think its "Signature Cafe" deli and fresh, prepared foods store-within-a-store will turn a few heads, including perhaps a few in the food retailing industry.