As grocers continue adding restaurants and other foodservice options to their stores, some restaurants are also blending channels in a similar fashion as they seek to meet more of consumers’ meal and pantry needs.
Clover Food Lab, a Massachusetts-based vegetarian fast food chain, has launched its newest location featuring a specialty grocery store, according to a company post on Tuesday.
The 400-square-foot specialty grocery store at CloverRow, located at 330 Foley St. in Somerville, Massachusetts, focuses on locally produced goods like maple syrup, hot sauce and salad dressings, according to Boston.com. The department will also include fresh produce from local farms along with items like hummus and soups that were previously only available from the company as takeout options.
The grocery section stems from a partnership with local entrepreneurs Alexandra Whisnant and Bobby MacLean, who run specialty food store Picnic & Pantry as well as a wine and dessert bar in Cambridge, Massachusetts, according to the press release. The new store will include some items from Picnic & Pantry, according to Boston.com.
At the height of the pandemic, many restaurant operators, including Subway and Panera, sold limited selections of groceries to try and lift sales. The focus on packaged goods has died down as restaurant traffic has picked back up, but Clover’s latest location indicates there could still be opportunities for restaurants to mix in groceries.
The trend is playing out in the digital arena. Last year, meal kit maker HelloFresh launched HelloFresh Market in the U.S., offering fresh produce, pantry items and meal add-ons for users.
Clover’s website notes several areas where it aims to differentiate from fast food competitors. Its menu changes daily depending on the best-tasting seasonal ingredients, no preservatives are used and 100% of “what we hand you is compostable,” the site says. Between 40%-85% of its ingredients are from its home base in the Northeast.
In addition to its restaurants, Clover also offers meal delivery boxes and catering and has a Farm Share Program in part with community-supported agriculture efforts in Massachusetts.
As part of its opening celebration, which took place last week, Clover hosted a “Pay What You Want Day” last Friday with all proceeds going to the Mystic River Watershed Association, the announcement said.