What Is a Grocerant?

Definition & Examples of a Grocerant

Family eating a meal together in a grocerant.
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A grocerant is a hybrid of grocery store and restaurant. Grocerants offer freshly prepared, ready-to-eat, or ready-to-heat foods inside a store setting. For example, a grocerant can be the fast-casual cafe inside of an upmarket grocery store or the freshly made, grab-and-go offerings of a convenience store.

Find out more about grocerants and what may lie ahead for this trend.

What Is a Grocerant?

Blurring the line between restaurants and grocery stores, grocerants offer the appeal of freshly prepared foods in a convenient setting. A grocerant is an opportunity to pick up a meal you don't have to cook yourself, and therefore is an attractive option for a lot of people. In fact, three in four consumers would rather dine out with family and friends than stay in and cook, according to the National Restaurant Association.

As grocerants gain in popularity, not every grocery store will find themselves installing cafe seating and hiring waitstaff, but many are sure to continue or expand their freshly prepared offerings.

How Does a Grocerant Work?

Frequently, a grocerant is a dedicated area inside a grocery store that sells prepared meals. These meals might be designed for take-out, to be eaten off-premises, or there may be a seating area inside the store. There may be limited table service, too, or it may be self-serve.

A grocerant may take stocked items and use them to create meals in ready-to-heat or ready-to-eat packaging, or it may create meals from a separate store of ingredients.

Many typical grocery stores sell grab-and-go prepared foods. Central Market, Safeway, Giant Eagle, and Kroger, for example, all sell freshly prepared chicken, salads, and sandwiches, and most also offer sushi and beverages, too.

Convenience stores such as 7-Eleven, Wawa, Sheetz, and QuickChek also sell fresh and prepared sandwiches, salads, and beverages as well, and some locations offer dine-in seating.

Many grocerants include alcohol sales in their business model, including a selection of wine, beer, and cocktails as an added draw.

For example, Whole Foods, typically known for its groceries, provides "Grab-and-Gourmet" prepared meals in addition to rotisserie chickens and catering platters. But at some locations, you'll find food courts, or food halls, featuring local beer and a variety of dine-in or take-out options, many showcasing local "Friends of Whole Foods" chefs. Visitors to its flagship food hall and cocktail bar at its Tyson's Corners, Virginia, location, might find counter service, seating, and self-serve wine, in addition to a specialty donut maker, Japanese pub, and superfood smoothie bar.

Types of Grocerants

You can find grocerants inside a variety of retailers, from large chain grocery stores to independent food stores to convenience stores and more.

Some restaurants and cafes also offer ready-to-eat meals that can be purchased and taken home. For instance, at Starbucks, coffee customers can also pick up pre-packaged salads, wraps, and sandwiches to eat at on-the-go. These meals aren't prepared to order, but they're still fresh.

There are also sections in department stores and kiosks in malls that offer ready-to-eat and heat-and-eat options, including entrees, sides, or faster options like pizza and hot dogs. Generally, these items can be picked up or delivered.

Not only is there variety as to where to find a grocerant, but the grocerants themselves may have different themes. The grocery chain Wegmans offers its Market Café as a spot to pick up quick bites such as sushi, pizza, sandwiches, and salads. But it offers additional restaurants, too. Next Door by Wegmans offers healthy, chef-prepared foods using organic and sustainable ingredients from their store, while Amore by Wegmans provides classic Italian dishes and wine. The Burger Bar by Wegmans sells burgers and fries for takeout or delivery.

Further blending grocery stores and restaurants are premade meal delivery services such as Freshly or Daily Harvest. These businesses provide subscription plans that deliver prepared meals to your door; all you need to do is heat and eat. Other business models provide the ingredients and recipe cards for you to make your own meals. Blue Apron, for example, ships you the ingredients for the meal you choose, and you prepare it.

Key Takeaways

  • Grocerants are a hybrid of grocery store and restaurant. They typically sell grab-and-go meals or sometimes even offer sit-down dining and table service.
  • Grocerants are frequently seen in the form of dine-in or take-out options inside grocery chains.
  • Grocerants can also include other retailers that sell freshly prepared, pre-packaged meals, such as convenience stores.

Article Sources

  1. National Restaurant Association. "2019 Restaurant Industry Factbook." Accessed Sept. 30, 2020.

  2. Technomic. "Technomic's Take: What’s Ahead for ‘Grocerants’?" Accessed Sept. 30, 2020.