How does a decades-old Northwest grocer stand out against the likes of Costco, Whole Foods and Amazon Go? For QFC, the answer centers on meal selection, in-store dining and a proudly local product assortment.
Kroger-owned QFC's new $23 million flagship store — its first new store in nearly a decade — plays up all three of those points in ways that are unique to the 62-store chain and also consistent with the Kroger brand. The 50,000-square-foot store anchors Kirkland Urban, a 12-acre mixed-use development located just east of Seattle. Burger purveyor Shake Shack and dumpling chain Dough Zone will also open in the space.
With thousands of office workers set to fill the floors above the store, QFC aims to cash in with a prepared foods hall offering everything from brick-oven pizza to made-to-order sushi. The 50,000-square-foot store replaces a smaller nearby location and includes 170 staffers compared to the former location's 70.
Tutta Bella Italian restaurant
One of Seattle's favorite Italian restaurant brands uses local and imported ingredients to make brick-oven pizza, salads and pasta dishes. Shoppers can order food to-go from inside the store or through the QFC app, and soon the location will offer dishes for delivery, Tutta Bella owners Joe Fugere told the Kirkland Reporter.
Partnering with local restaurant brands is fast becoming part of the Kroger playbook, from barbecue joints to an Ohio pizza purveyor. Opening this fall, the company’s two-story flagship in downtown Cincinnati will house five local restaurant brands.
Prepared food hall
Along with Tutta Bella, QFC's prepared foods hall includes a Yummi Sushi bar where chefs create custom rolls as well as a signature "Kirkland Roll." The hall also has a sandwich bar that uses natural and organic meats, a made-to-order gyro station and a selection of fresh-baked cookies.
Q20 Public House
QFC's Cork & Tap pub in nearby Bellevue has been a hit with customers since it opened in 2014. Now the chain is building off that success with Q20. Eight rotating beer taps serve up local selections from Georgetown Brewery, Silver City Brewery, Rainier Brewing and others. There's also growler and crowler fill-ups, a frosé machine and an extensive wine list. Guests can sip inside or snag one of a handful of outdoor seats.
Meat and Seafood
The meat department features exclusive, all-natural Twin River Angus Beef raised on farms in Washington and Oregon. And in a region known for fresh catches, QFC's seafood department predictably serves up a wide selection of salmon, crab, scallops and mussels. There are also unique items like protein noodles made with wild Alaskan pollock.
Situated just off the meat department, the Simple Truth Sauteé program includes frozen entrees like chicken alfredo and Thai green curry chicken that can be taken home and prepared in 12 minutes or less. It's a version of Kroger's Easy for You program, available at more than 300 stores.
Fit Market and Pharmacy
The store's health and wellness section features a variety of supplements and has a dedicated case for digestive health aids. The adjacent full-service pharmacy includes many of the same staff members customers got to know at the nearby QFC that this newest location is replacing.
Mini mushroom farm
Located in the produce department, QFC's small mushroom plot grows morels, shiitakes and other fungal varieties that are then sold in the case just a few feet away. The section also sells packaged mushrooms and mushroom logs for the at-home growers.