- Tops Friendly Markets will open Spot Express cafes at two of its grocery stores in Amherst, New York as part of a franchise agreement, the Buffalo News reported.
- In one Tops location, Spot Express will replace a Tim Hortons, and in the other location it will replace a former children’s play space.
- The Spot Express cafes are smaller, quick-serve versions of Spot’s traditional cafes featuring a limited food and beverage menu.
With ongoing remodels among retailers and the evolution of the grocery store footprint, companies like Tops are looking for new in-store offerings that will attract shoppers. For Tops, the reallocation of its play space follows a trend among grocers of transforming childcare areas and play equipment into more productive store space.
In choosing Spot as a franchise partner, Tops is betting on a regional coffee chain to resonate with customers. Spot has around 20 full-service cafes across New York State, including franchise locations at four Dash’s Market stores. It roasts and serves its own small batch coffee, and the cafes offer a “community-oriented” feel, according to the company's website.
The move toward in-store cafes and restaurants operated by outside parties is ongoing in grocery stores. This year, Kroger, Hy-Vee, H-E-B and Whole Foods have all added restaurants and eateries in or adjacent to select stores. Walmart in Canada recently forged an in-store deal with fast-casual chain Freshii, while Hy-Vee has become the largest franchisee of Wahlburgers restaurants. The goal in adding these is twofold: draw shoppers to come into the store and remain competitive with fast casual restaurants and coffee shops that are competing for meal dollars.