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    Belly Up to Wegmans Burger Bar

    Fast, fresh & flavorful = Words to live by

    By Meg Major, EnsembleIQ

    Leave it to always-innovative Wegmans to take something as simple as a burger and create something memorable and well worth replicating, not only in multiple locations of its own stores, but in other grocery stores as well.

    Prior to proceeding, let us pause for a moment to ponder a juicy factoid about the humble hamburger, which remains on an unstoppable roll. Burgers are gastronomic survivors: Their adaptability is unequaled, as is their appeal to the full spectrum of socio-economic segments. Last year, U.S. foodservice outlets served 9 billion hamburgers, a comparable gain of 3 percent, which stacked up quite nicely in contrast to its low-cal rival, the grilled chicken sandwich, per recent data from the National Restaurant Association.

    To be sure, the burger-licious info bodes well for the promising in-store grocerant concept that Rochester, N.Y.-based Wegmans is rightly embracing, as evidenced by the opening of its third Burger Bar last week in its Woodmore store in Lanham, Md.

    The tempting menu, which focuses on – what else? – burgers, along with sandwiches and salads, includes a side order of Tuscan fries, salad or soup. For an additional $1, the side can be upgraded to sweet potato fries or onion rings. A kids’ menu also comes with a side order, drink and a kiddie cone, while an option for a gluten-free bun is also served up, as are two vegetarian burgers.

    Striving for the three Fs – fast, fresh and flavorful – Wegmans' website further describes a team of in-house chefs who worked on the Burger Bar's menu, which in my view, undeniably delivers on all of the F words.

    “Our first Burger Bar location in Rochester, N.Y., became so popular with our customers that we’ve started rolling it out to other locations," Wegmans Woodmore Executive Chef James Ballard notes on the retailer's website. "The menu has proven favorites like the traditional American Classic Burger and the more adventuresome Lamb Gyro Burger."

    Meanwhile, Chris Brandt, culinary director of restaurants for the 85-store Wegmans, said a menu focusing on great burgers and sandwiches began taking shape several months ago. “We looked at our other Burger Bar locations and determined the crowd favorites,” affirmed Brandt, noting other customer favorites like the Maple Onion Bacon Burger and the Santa Monica Turkey Burger.

    Sandwich combinations feature full, dinner-size portions, like the Chicken Avocado BLT with herb goddess dressing, or the Pub Steak Sandwich with mushrooms, caramelized onions and Adams Reserve Cheddar. Salad lovers have options too, with entree-sized Baby Kale and Arugula Salad, Grilled Cobb Salad or Caesar Salad, with al a carte options for chicken, salmon and scallops. Sweetening the deal, the menu also includes ice cream and specialty milkshakes for those who crave a little something sweet. Most entrees cost about $10, while a complete child’s meal is $5.

    Aside from the newest Woodmore location, Wegmans Burger Bars are also found in its Columbia, Md., and Pittsford, N.Y., stores, with another one in the works for its Canandaigua store.

    From the great value, mouth-watering menu and flexible eat-in or take-out dining options, Wegmans Burger Bar sounds like a genuine winner. Indeed, by building a prepared foods platform around one of the most popular foods with unpretentious, high quality ingredients – the majority of which just happen so happen to be in ample supply by supermarkets of all shapes and sizes – the concept provides sizzling inspiration for other grocers to consider replicating in their own stores.

    Cheers, Wegmans!

    By Meg Major, EnsembleIQ
    • About Meg Major Veteran supermarket industry journalist Meg Major brings a wealth of experience to her role as Chief Content Editor of Progressive Grocer. In addition to her editorial duties, Major also spearheads the retail food industry’s premier women’s leadership recognition platform, Top Women in Grocery. Follow her on Twitter at @Meg_Major, connect with her on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/megmajor, or email her at [email protected]

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