The line between grocers and restaurants keeps blurring as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.
Regional Midwestern grocer Hy-Vee Inc. is offering curbside meals-to-go via digital order at more than 200 locations companywide. Through Hy-Vee’s “Mealtime To Go” service, customers can order hot, prepared foods along with take-and-bake meals. Meals will be available for free pickup in as little as 30 minutes, or can be scheduled for a future pickup time.
Customers can place fast foods orders with the Hy-Vee website and Aisles Online mobile delivery/pickup app. Options will vary based on offerings available at each Hy-Vee store. Several meals will come with one side option included, and customers may also choose to add on additional food items to their orders.
Once customers arrive at the store for pickup, they call a designated phone number provided in a confirmation email. Employees will deliver food orders directly to customers’ vehicles.
A number of fast-casual chains have recently started offering grocery items, sourced from their existing ingredients, in the face of declining sales caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Panera, McDonald’s Australia, and Subway are among the restaurants now offering grocery items for online pickup and delivery.
Now smaller, regional grocers competing with the huge COVID-19-driven sales spikes seen at competing national supermarket and discount chains are starting to explore online pickup and delivery of fast-casual prepared meals. Texas-based regional grocer H-E-B recently launched a pilot selling ready-made meals from restaurant partners. Although all proceeds from the sales of these chef-prepared meals will go directly to the restaurants to provide COVID-19 relief, H-E-B could presumably continue the program at profit when the pandemic ends.
Hy-Vee, Inc. is an employee-owned corporation operating more than 265 retail stores across eight Midwestern states.