The new superstore

Gourmets from around the globe turn to chefs and restaurants for their curated menus and unique flavors. Rare ingredients are also a hallmark of elevated dining. Culinary institutions are now transforming their refined expertise into new epicurean experiences. Restaurants and restaurant providers open their doors to the public as in-house dining falls. This heralds the next generation superstores where gourmet restaurants meet farm shares meet corner stores.As panicked shoppers rush to stock up on groceries, butchers, and wine shops, restaurateurs step in to fill the gap. They become gourmet grocers, selling to consumers the ingredients that chefs use to create their signature dishes. They also sell shelf-stable pantry essentials and everyday household items like toilet paper and paper towels.

Numerous restaurants are adapting. The Stove in Las Vegas, which two Hell’s Kitchen competitors opened, is now a pop-up store with toilet paper, eggs, and canned goods. Porridge and Puffs, a Los Angeles restaurant that sells bulk grains, homemade pickles, and facial scrubs, has become a grab-and-go market. Prairie in San Francisco sells “pantry prep kits” that are filled with shelf stable cooking essentials. Jaxon in Dallas will sell grocery bags at a fixed price, filled with basic items like chicken, butter and bread. Avenue N in Providence, Rhode Island, sells produce baskets filled with everything from greens and berries to homemade pizza dough. The selection changes weekly, based on the market. The list is endless.
Not only chefs are rethinking business models. Wholesalers who used to sell exclusively to restaurants now offer high-quality and specialty ingredients to inspire home cooking. Farm One, a hydroponic New York City farm that grows edible flowers and microgreens, has adapted to the fact that less than 10% of its restaurant customers are still in business. Farm One’s Marissa Siefkes, sales manager at Farm One, told Eater that they are pivoting away from the grow-to order model in which hundreds of crops were growing simultaneously to a smaller set of crops.
Elite restaurants are becoming more accessible. The same ingredients that are used by award-winning restaurants can be found in the kitchens of consumers. For example, the produce from Natoora is available directly to the public. Happy Valley Meat Co., which has James Beard Award-winning Frenchette as a client, also sells meats in New York City. Rozzo, a seafood supplier who sourced fruits du mer for Michelin starred restaurants such as Marea and Daniel has opened a Manhattan retail shop. The iconic Michelin starred Eleven Madison Park, which was voted as the world’s top restaurant in 2017, has been converted into a food pantry, supplying meals to nonprofit Rethink.The food and beverage industry is changing fundamentally as consumers seek out convenience over niche indulgence.

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