- Walmart opened an organic fast-casual restaurant called Grown inside one of its supercenters in Orlando, according to CNBC.
- Grown, founded by Shannon Allen, the wife of former NBA star Ray Allen, sells cold-pressed juice for $9 and features dishes like avocado toast for $6 and salads, wraps and sandwiches ranging from $11 to $18.
- Some experts see the restaurant as Walmart asserting its organic presence in the wake of Amazon’s takeover of Whole Foods. However, the retailer currently has no plans to expand the concept.
Grown is a radical departure from the fast-food chains that typically appear inside Walmart stores. McDonald’s, Pizza Hut and Subway are common bedfellows with the retailer, and are typically a good fit for the company’s budget-focused consumers.
So does partnering with an organic chain that sells $6 avocado toast mean Walmart is suddenly going upscale in an effort to compete with Amazon-owned Whole Foods?
The two retailers serve very different consumer segments, and that won’t likely change for some time. Despite Amazon’s much-publicized day-one price cuts at Whole Foods, which came after the online retailer promised to make organic “affordable for all,” average prices at the natural and organic retailer remain mostly unchanged. Bloomberg compared 18 items sold at Whole Foods and Walmart stores and found the natural and organic grocer to be 50% more expensive than the mega-retailer.
Still, Walmart would undoubtedly love to draw more affluent customers and make more money off its foodservice offerings. The company can’t sell $9 cold-pressed juices in all of its stores, but there could be untapped demand in its more urban, millennial-dense markets like Orlando. According to a recent study by Realtor.com, the city has the second highest percentage of millennials in the country.
Across the nation, retailers from Whole Foods to Raley’s are building in-store restaurants and bars. These establishments offer an additional revenue stream for retailers, and customers seem to be more open to the idea of sipping draft beers and eating burgers in the same place where they buy cereal and eggs. Hy-Vee has had tremendous success with its slightly upmarket Market Grille stores, while independent retailer DeCicco & Sons in upstate New York has made in-store bars a key part of its identity.
Walmart, which is remodeling stores and reaching new customers with its ever-expanding e-commerce programs, could very well make a play for higher-income consumers. More upscale foodservice offerings like Grown would no doubt be a key piece of that strategy.