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    Kroger, Other Grocers Expanding Ready-To-Eat Options

    Cincinnati-based Kroger Co. is pursuing an expansion and renovation project of its Kroger and Scott’s locations in the Fort Wayne, Ind., area.

    Cincinnati-based Kroger Co. is pursuing an expansion and renovation project of its Kroger and Scott’s locations in the Fort Wayne, Ind., area. The project is estimated to cost $100 million.

    Each of the affected locations — which will be renovated, expanded or built new — will feature upgraded ready-to-eat food areas, according to local press reports.

    “It is something we consider at all of our store investments and remodels. Shoppers can get a roasted chicken, meatloaf and all of the sides that go with it,” said Kroger spokesman John Elliott. “People can buy a whole meal, but they’re not paying a restaurant price. We started seeing increased sales at our deli during the economic downturn, but even with us coming out of the recession, the sales haven’t slowed down, and we don’t expect them to.”

    Ready-to-eat options are popular with other grocers as well. George’s International Market in Fort Wayne opened George’s Mexican Café inside its store eight years ago, according to local press reports.

    Since then, the cafe has developed a loyal following among customers who enjoy authentic Mexican cuisine, owner Chris Rongos said. “It’s worked out well,” he said of the café, which also offers catering. “I really put in the restaurant for customers as a convenience to give them another option while shopping.”

    For example, Rongos said, if the kids get hungry during a shopping trip with mom, she “can get them something to eat here and finish her shopping.”

    Elliott said Kroger has improved its hot meals menu to the point that its stores have become a lunch and dinner destination. “For a lot of people, that is the case,” he said. “They can order what they want, continue shopping and then get a real home-cooked meal.”

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