Hy-Vee plans new in-store restaurants that will serve alcohol

Wednesday, December 18, 2013 | 2:40 p.m. CST

COLUMBIA — Hy-Vee plans to convert the dining section of its three Columbia stores into more formal restaurants that serve alcohol.

Greg Frampton, assistant vice president of food services for Hy-Vee, outlined the Market Grille and Market Cafe concepts that are coming to 150 of the chain's 238 stores during the next three years:

Market Grilles will feature an updated menu with items such as specialty burgers, pizza, pasta and sushi along with a full bar and service with waiters. The bar will serve wine, cocktails and a variety of beer that will include local brews and many craft brands as well as domestic beers.

The Market Cafe stores will feature slightly smaller menus and seating but will be designed to feel similar to the Market Grille locations. They will serve beer and wine but not hard liquor.

One of the three Columbia Hy-Vees is in line for a Market Grille, Frampton said, but he wasn't sure which one. The other locations will likely have Market Cafes. There is no specific timeline for the project, he said, but changes are expected to start in the next one to two years.

Culinary chefs have crafted the menu for the Market Grilles, Frampton said. The restaurants will have an informal setting that lets customers eat from the store's buffet. But after 4 p.m., the formal dinner atmosphere begins inside.

Hy-Vee is making the changes to separate itself from competitors, Frampton said.

"We want this to be a place where you can come in for a great burger any week night, take your significant other out on a Saturday night for steak or your family on Sunday for pizza," Frampton said.

Columbia resident Timothy Werts, who was eating Tuesday in the Hy-Vee at the Rock Bridge Shopping Center, said a grocery store isn't the first place that comes to mind for a dinner date.

"I don't connect the two in my mind, grocery shopping and a date," Werts said.

Matt Boyce of Columbia, who was eating at the Hy-Vee on Conley Road, had similar thoughts. "Me personally, I don't think my wife would be impressed if we got a baby sitter, and then I took her out to Hy-Vee."

Boyce thinks that how the restaurants are advertised will play a big role. "I think the gourmet setting might get me to try it," he said.

Hy-Vee has promotional plans to persuade people to give the new restaurants a try including daily promotions such as "Wine Down Wednesdays" that feature half off bottles of wine and fresh sushi.

Frampton said that based on testing the concept in the past year at three locations in Des Moines, Iowa, he's confident consumers will respond.

Supervising editor is John Schneller.

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Chris Hill December 18, 2013 | 11:30 a.m.

Strangest thing I've read all day. Great grocery store, but if I tried to take my wife there for dinner, I'd be in trouble.

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith December 18, 2013 | 2:03 p.m.

Hy-Vee, whose corporate offices are located in the city of West Des Moines, Iowa, has opened two new "mega stores," one in the city of Urbandale (population ~35,000) and a second in the city of Ankeny (population ~50,000). Both are entirely new buildings, not alternations of existing stores.

As part of the promotion of these stores the public was issued "maps" of their interiors, which are also available at the store doors. The maps are needed! Local jokes are that some folks who entered on Monday finally found all their groceries and managed to locate the checkout by Tuesday afternoon, and that groceries were actually present along with all the other amenities. These stores not only have restaurants, they offer gourmet dining. Their liquor stores are larger than some grocery stores; there's even a separate wine tasting room.

Any problems? Yes, parking. While their paved lots would be large enough for most grocery stores, at busy times one must walk a long way just to reach the store, liquor store or restaurant entrances.

My understanding is that Hy-Vee plans to pretty much build these stores in the future but not to signficantly enlarge any existing stores. Well, that would make sense if their existing stores already crowd the real estate that's available.

BTW, Ankeny, where the second "mega store" has opened, is corporate headquarters for Casey's General Stores. Casey's has yet to announce gourmet dining at their fuel stop/convenience stores. Maybe an announcement is forthcoming. :)

(Report Comment)
John Schultz December 18, 2013 | 4:14 p.m.

I would put forth the idea that Casey's sausage pizza is already gourmet dining, especially if followed with a fresh donut. The road trip lunch of champions!

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith December 18, 2013 | 4:49 p.m.

@ John Schultz:

Right on! If not exactly "The Breakfast of Champions" then at the very least "The Breakfast of Engineers."

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams December 18, 2013 | 6:55 p.m.

Ok, now you guys are just being plain weird.

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith December 19, 2013 | 5:25 a.m.

@ Michael Williams:

Engineers occasionally (okay, more than just occasionally) have bouts of weirdness, especially near Christmas. Aren't pizza and doughnuts two of the most important of the food groups?

One item further about Hy-Vee. If you have patronized their Columbia stores you may have noticed their best grade of beef is called "Amana Beef." I'm not sure which meat packer supplies this meat, but I am positive it doesn't come from Amana Colonies.

The Colonies do have a specialty meat market, but they lack a packing plant sufficient to supply a large grocery firm, which means Hy-Vee has purchased the right to use the Amana name.

That wouldn't be unusual: Amana Colonies represent one of the most rampant examples of Capitalism anywhere in the United States. Persons having Socialist or Communist tendencies are advised not to visit the Colonies: the atmosphere there might cause such persons to become physically ill. :)

They do still make those great home refrigerators (in Amana's only large factory), but these days the logo is "Whirlpool."

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams December 19, 2013 | 8:23 a.m.

Ellis: We chemists like to ferment our own food groups.

(Report Comment)
John Schultz December 19, 2013 | 10:08 a.m.

Michael, when I was at Mizzou for my engineering degree, the only food sources on the north side of campus was the vending machines in the various buildings and a salad bar in the basement of Jesse Hall. And restaurants I couldn't really afford to eat in as an undergrad.

I had many a lunch that was a pack of club crackers with cheese, a can of Coke, and Zingers if I recall correctly. It seems there was a small cafe in the old Electrical Engineering building (rebranded to EBW toward the end of my college career), but that shut down my sophomore year I believe. Kids these days have it easy.

(Report Comment)
John Schultz December 19, 2013 | 10:11 a.m.

Ellis, you might be amused to hear that I recently introduced my wife to Casey's pizza. She grew up in Springfield, which I don't think has much in the way of Casey's locations or at least I haven't noticed them much in our trips down there, then she spent 10 years in New York, probably also lacking in Casey's stores. I think she was horrified when I proposed taking some Casey's pizzas to my brother's one night until she tried them. She is now hooked on the breakfast pizza.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams December 19, 2013 | 12:20 p.m.

JohnS: I spent most of my lunches at Lee Street Shop over was it....oh, yeah, Lee Street.

I spent some undergrad years at UMKC. Back before ethics" were discovered, I found one vending machine in the student union that possessed the unique attribute of....Put in a quarter, press coin return, get 4 quarters back. For the first month, I figured it was just another government program, me being a McGovern democrat and all. I ate on that technique for two months and also learned how slot machines worked, too, although my subsequent experiences with real slots have been much less fruitful than with faulty vending machines.

Ah, yes....Zingers. Still eat 'em.

PS: My first apartment in Columbia was on Banks Street. The living room and kitchen were both 7' x 12', the bedroom was an enclosed back porch where one of you had to stand outside to make the bed, and the bathroom was so small everyone had to stand up no matter the gender. The neighbors were great since we all were in the "poor boat", especially the guy who kept trying to get me over for a 'possum bbq on his homebuilt cooker. Strangely, I was always busy when that invitation came up, but otherwise we had some great times together.

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith December 19, 2013 | 1:43 p.m.

Guess it's my turn again. Do you mean there are foods available in Springfield, Missouri OTHER than cashew chicken? Seriously, it's the cashew chicken capital of the world!

I doubt you will find a Casey's General Store anywhere near New York City. I am pleased to report that Casey's most recently built stores are far more attractive and much nicer inside than most of their older ones. They are more on the order of QuikTrip's (Tulsa, Oklahoma) more recent stores, of which Columbia has an example.

Well, guys, back in the day at old MSM we were issued shotguns and had to go out and KILL our dinners! Any road kill we encountered was also scooped up and sent to Memorial Union at Mizzou. Waste not, want not. :)

Joe Miner

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams December 19, 2013 | 2:11 p.m.

Ellis: "Well, guys, back in the day at old MSM we were issued shotguns and had to go out and KILL our dinners!"

Muzzleloader or breech loader?


(Report Comment)

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