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Why restaurant operators should watch Kroger’s latest supermarket

The grocery chain, which is expanding its full-service restaurant concept, opened a food hall at a new store in downtown Cincinnati.
Photograph courtesy of Kroger

Supermarket chain Kroger opened a food hall in a new store in downtown Cincinnati last week, once again blurring the line between restaurant and grocery for the chain, which already operates a full-service restaurant and bar.

The food hall, known as the On the Rhine Eatery, features Cincinnati restaurant brands, including Django Western Taco, Dope Asian Street Fare, Eli’s BBQ and Queen City Whip, as well as Kitchen 1883 Cafe and Bar, Kroger’s full-service restaurant concept.

“Kroger is thrilled to introduce our first food hall and offer a one-of-its-kind shopping experience in our hometown of Cincinnati, providing a convenient location to experience delicious, quality meals and foods. This innovative destination highlights Kroger’s food-first culture,” said Rodney McMullen, Kroger’s chairman and CEO. “Kroger’s new store offers something for everyone. We invite all to visit the store to meet our wonderful associates, shop for fresh groceries and discover their new favorite restaurant.”

On the Rhine Eatery can accommodate up to 200 customers and offers indoor and outdoor seating, as well as a full-service bar with cocktails, local beers, wines and Kentucky bourbons. Featured restaurants and dishes at the food hall include:

  • Kitchen 1883 Cafe and Bar: Kroger’s second location of its American food restaurant that offers dishes such as flat iron steak panini, Brussels sprouts salad and coconut milk smoothies. The restaurant also offers breakfast and a weekend brunch.
  • Dope Asian Street Fare: a restaurant that offers ramen, dumplings, bao buns and more—all inspired by street food throughout Asia—along with Vietnamese iced coffee and global libations.
  • Django Western Taco: Mexican food with a flair of American cuisine, starring homemade tortillas produced with Ohio corn, jackfruit carnitas and jerk chicken quesadillas. The restaurant also serves handcrafted margaritas, breakfast and weekend brunch.
  • Eli’s BBQ: a Cincinnati favorite with a cult following that offers hickory-smoked pork sandwiches topped with homemade barbecue sauce, plus ribs, smoked turkey and sides such as jalapeno cheddar grits and macaroni and cheese.
  • Queen City Whip: a popular local food truck offering its first brick-and-mortar location at the food hall, featuring made-to-order burgers, chili dogs and milkshakes.

 

The two-level, 52,000-square-foot Kroger store features grab-and-go and ready-to-heat meals for lunch and dinner in addition to fresh fruits and vegetables and a traditional grocery shopping experience. The store offers an exclusive Starbucks coffee blend as well as a walk-up window for beverage orders.

The store, which offers grocery delivery, also plans to add restaurant delivery.  

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