Just between you and me, the attention paid to this stud muffin isn’t what it once was. OK, maybe never was. But there was always hope. Now, I could burst into flames while walking through a bustling restaurant and the only reaction would be a barked directive to smoke outside.
Which is why I need Amazon to buy me. Whole Foods was once a place that left you marveling about the breadth of the pepper family. Now it’s the center of the world’s attention, all because Amazon decided it needed another field to conquer. People can’t stop speculating about the retailing giants’ future—and the implications for restaurants.
Not since the height of the Cold War have we seen such fear of annihilation. Now, a few weeks after the pairing was consummated, the panic seems stoked more by the lack of concrete indications than by the alarming possibilities.
We’ve heard the questions enough times to know which ones are robbing restaurateurs of sleep.
“Am I going to be undercut on price?” Whole Amazon certainly will try. The consensus is that supermarket prices have fallen so far below the cost of dining out that even hardcore foodies can’t justify a meal away from home. Amazon has already dropped Whole Foods’ in-store prices, discounting some items by 40%, according to a CNBC spot check. Traffic shot up 25% within two days.
The real danger is a ridiculously low price for Whole Foods’ ready-to-eat meals. The retailer is already viewed as a viable dinner option by sophisticates who can’t tell a pot from a pan.
“Will I get beat on convenience?” This is the real reason for climbing out on the ledge. Amazon negated the need for consumers to visit retail establishments, and it’s already setting up a system to keep restaurant lovers home through delivery. Whole Foods could provide fork-ready food of restaurant quality, brought TV-side.
“Should I sell my restaurants and buy a go-kart racing concession?” No, for two reasons. First, you could be rocking on the porch of Amazon Retirement Village by the time the full impact is felt. Whole Amazon has to overcome some significant operational issues. A case of Doggie O’s dropped on the stoop can be dented, dusty or ambient temperature. An order of Chicken Piccata packs far more sensitivities.
The other big reason: It’s just a matter of time until Amazon gets into the go-kart game.
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