- Fairway Market, the iconic New York City grocer, will open a culinary school for shoppers in its Upper West Side location, according to a news release.
- The Cooking Place will offer more than 100 different classes covering a range of cuisine types and culinary skill levels. Examples of the courses, which are developed by executive chef and culinary director Laura Licona, include "Parisian Steakhouse," "Spanish Tapas," "Afternoon Tea Party" and "Soul-Warming Southern Dishes."
- The Cooking Place will open June 15 and is currently booking class slots through its dedicated website.
A culinary space is a natural fit for Fairway, the foodie-friendly New York grocer that sells hundreds of different olive oils, cheeses and bulk coffee varieties. The bustling Upper West Side location has a fiercely loyal neighborhood base that floods the aisles every weeknight and on the weekends, and may very well carve time out of their schedules to learn how to make sushi rolls or julienne vegetables.
The Cooking Place provides another revenue opportunity for Fairway — and one that could expand to other locations, depending on its popularity. The true test for the space, though, will be whether it can reach past neighborhood regulars and draw in those not-quite-converted shoppers.
The New York/New Jersey region has always been a market that favors sharp elbows. That’s especially true now as top competitors like Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods keep expanding. This fall Wegmans will bring its grocery circus to Brooklyn, and next year Lidl will begin opening converted Best Market locations on Long Island. For the region’s many online-savvy shoppers, Fairway and Peapod have expanded same-day service along with Walmart-owned Jet.com.
Across the country, retailers that serve culinary-curious customers are establishing cooking schools. Publix’s Aprons Cooking School covers everything from wine pairings to kids’ courses. In Seattle, PCC Community Markets has a packed schedule of seasonal classes.
Not every retailer has the in-store real estate and customer base to support cooking classes. But as companies re-examine their store layouts, some may find adding a culinary program to be a sensible way to boost revenue and, more importantly, create a destination for shoppers.