Grocery Stores Consider the Groceraunt

If you've been enjoying the bar at your local Whole Foods, you might be interested to know that it could be getting bigger. In a move to diversify their offerings, some grocery stores have been enticing customers to linger a while before they buy their milk and cereal. The move has been working, and now stores are looking to grow the concept, taking things as far as offering full-blown restaurants.

The push to diversify is aimed to counter a long-term shrinking of market share for grocery businesses as other businesses add food sales in their own an attempts to diversify. Smaller boutique markets, convenience stores, farmers markets and other stores have all been chipping away at grocery store sales, and Target recently announced they'll be expanding their own grocery sales, too. The changing topography has traditional grocery stores scrambling.

When the grocery store bar movement began, my first guess was that it wouldn't work at all. Why would people want to hang out where they shop for food -- a place that is traditionally perceived as a chore? But I was incredibly wrong. Bars at Whole Foods groceries seemingly never empty, and it's often hard to get a stool. Last year when snow threatened, when you would think any grocery store would be a nightmare, the bar at Lakewood's Whole Foods was business as usual.

So I know better than to throw rotten fruit at this groceraunt concept before it actually takes shape. Who knows, maybe customers will actually want to eat an entire dinner before they shop for the next. You should never shop for groceries hungry, so maybe a grocery store-based restaurant could actually prove helpful for shoppers who tend to get carried away in the snack aisle.

The real mystery is how the public will actually use them. Whole Foods stores in Dallas have already been offering dishes to customers who sit at their bars, and those customers have been nibbling. Will the groceraunt become a full-on dining destination, or will it just serve as a caloric segue between meals? Will people go on dates there? Are prom dresses roaming the cheese section far off?

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