- As part of its COVID-19 response, H-E-B is offering meals from local restaurants in some stores, according to the company. The pilot program has taken the grocer less than a week to roll out, H-E-B told the San Antonio Express-News.
- At five H-E-B stores in San Antonio, matzo ball soup, meatloaf and challah French toast from Max & Louie’s New York Diner are some of the meals currently available for less than $10. The chain is working on additional partnerships with San Antonio restaurants.
- Houston area H-E-B stores will carry meals from local restaurants Underbelly, Brennan’s and Cherry Block, according to the Houston Chronicle. Meals go for $12 and include choices like Korean braised beef and dumplings, short ribs with cheese grits and chicken tenders with mac-and-cheese.
While other grocery stores have partnered with restaurants to offer jobs to furloughed workers, H-E-B — which called itself a "family of foodies" with deep ties to restaurants — is trying to give local restaurateurs another avenue to sell their food.
All sale proceeds will go back to the restaurants, H-E-B said. The company is helping restaurants navigate labeling requirements and other logistics, like refrigerated trucks, to get meals on the shelves as quickly as possible.
The opportunity has allowed Max & Louie’s to bring back 10 of its 60 employees, according to the Express-News. H-E-B didn’t say whether the program will continue after the COVID-19 pandemic ends.
H-E-B already carries restaurant-branded items in the grocery aisles, but this is the company’s first time bringing in fully-prepared meals from local restaurants. Given the pilot’s small scale, the restaurant meals will serve as a complement to H-E-B’s extensive assortment of prepared foods and in-store dining across its more than 350 stores.
Restaurants and grocery stores have gotten creative in order to keep their doors open and their workers employed during the pandemic. Grocers including Sedano’s, Albertsons and Giant Eagle have partnered with restaurants to hire workers who have lost their jobs or seen hours cut temporarily due to the crisis. In Memphis, a restaurant converted itself into a small grocery store to keep its doors open as an essential business.