- H-E-B opened a food hall in one of its stores in Austin, Texas, on Monday, according to a company announcement. The food hall will be open Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Friday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
- Called Main Streat, the hall features five casual restaurants, as well as a full-service bar. Customers can choose from a taqueria, Texas barbecue, a Japanese grill, gourmet grilled cheese or a restaurant called Roots Chicken Shak, which is run by a former Top Chef contestant.
- H-E-B has limited capacity indoor and outdoor dining available at the dining hall, and food from Main Streat can also be ordered for takeout or delivery through H-E-B’s Favor.
With fewer people dining out and socializing around food and drink due to COVID-19, it’s a challenging time to complete an ambitious project like this. But H-E-B said it sees the food hall as part of its commitment to feed Texas families.
The availability of food delivery and pickup is an important part of the new offering for those shoppers who don’t want to come in to eat. Both channels have seen large adoption during the pandemic in the foodservice industry, with 66% of consumers saying they aren't ready to dine in yet, according to a study released in May by the Washington State University's Carson College of Business. Additionally, the grocer said it will have robust sanitation and social distancing measures in place to ensure the health and safety of customers and employees at the food hall and bar.
Many grocers that operate restaurants in stores have had to adapt due to the pandemic. Grocers including Albertsons and Hy-Vee completely shut down in-store dining when the pandemic first hit, and have continued to operate with outdoor seating or takeout-only options depending on local regulations around restaurants.
H-E-B has been committed to supporting restaurants in various ways since the pandemic began. In April, the grocer announced partnerships with local eateries in Austin and Houston to sell grab-and-go items in its stores’ prepared food sections.
Food halls have become a favorite among retailers opening new stores in the last couple of years, particularly at flagship locations. Almost a year ago, Kroger opened Kroger on the Rhine in Cincinnati, Ohio, which features a 100-seat food hall and five different restaurants. Last October, Whole Foods opened a flagship store in Tysons, Virginia, also with a food hall boasting ramen, oysters, gourmet donuts and Italian food.