Monday, May 17, 2010

Getting Fresh with Foodies...

Kroger Fresh Fare Closing.

The Kroger Fresh Fare concept that existed at the fancy Kenwood Towne Center will be closing at the end of the month according to an article in the Cincinnati Business Courier which I have linked to in the title of this blog.

It's either closing due to lower sales or trouble with the newly built property, depending on who you ask.  If you ask me, it's a bad strategic move either way.

First let's assume they aren't meeting sales numbers.  OK, but did they adjust their expectations when the economy nose dived?  Are they using unrealistic goals as an excuse to up and leave?  The more likely reason could be that they don't want to be in the middle of any entanglements that arise from Bank of America foreclosing on the property... and sales are probably down as well.

This is bad for several reasons.  First, this is Kroger's front door step.  Closing a unique concept in the home of your headquarters is like Louisville KFC's closing down or Wendy's closing their Dublin, OH locations.  Even though they have a few other Fresh Fare concepts in the country, it's still a proof of concept for the company.  What message do you send to shoppers about that concept and about the strength of your brand if you yank one of 2 or 3 in the country from your own front doorstep?

Even if it loses them some money, it's worth keeping the concept alive and can serve as a great test market for all things upscale.  The development on the site of the Kenwood Towne Center isn't going to crumble into dust.  The businesses will rebound and whoever is still there will reap the rewards.  Also, Kroger now has a ton of Marketplace locations and they could easily close one of those instead or one of their regular Kroger stores.  The closing of that store will be ironic because it will cause the other Kroger stores in the area to be much busier.  This will be great for those store's numbers but will annoy the shoppers that get sick of waiting in long checkout lines.  Some of these shoppers will instead seek out unique experiences like those found at Whole Foods, Fresh, and Kroger Fresh Fare... if it were still open.

Foodies or Food Snobs: Time for a stern talking to...
Like many of you, I get excited about food.  I can get lost for hours in a grocery store and not buy anything.  In fact, I often get so excited that I can't decide, then walk away empty handed.  I love to look for quality ingredients, try new brands, and be a cheer leader for the things I do like.

What I don't like is what I hear and read from some foodies and food blogs.  I won't start beef(get it?) with any blogs by being negative, but I will praise a couple blogs I think are good examples.

Fries With That Shake - Run by Jess Ward, the Burger Baroness herself celebrates food and tells you what's good without being too good for certain foods.  Maybe it's the fact that she's a fan of burgers, but you never get the feeling you're being lectured, shamed, or talked down to for the food you enjoy.  Bravo Jess, and next time you're in Cincinnati, lets go out for burgers. Follow her on Twitter @BurgerBaroness

Get in mah belly! - Run by Liz and I don't know nearly as much about this blog except that it's honest and not what I would call a Shiite Foodie.  Maybe that's not fair... how about Fundamentalist Foodie.  She likes the food of the masses, seems humble about her food experiences, and like Jess, is really excited to write about food.

What many people do that I don't like is very similar to reviews written in auto magazines.  In those magazines, the guy is always disappointed and makes some shitty comment about the test car that makes the reader feel that the whole process was beneath him.  They'll write things like, 'Of course, we would have preferred to test the 6-speed manual, but we'll have to make do with this automatic.'

So food snobs love to brag about how unique their dishes or ingredients are and love to dog on anyone else they feel doesn't have exotic enough ingredients.  Maybe they only drink IPA's or brag about how much the superdark microbrew costs, or scoff's at the idea of a domestic draft.  These people have indoctrinated themselves to the point that they can't eat a simple cheeseburger or make a fried egg sandwich unless it's flax seed bread, brushed with seasoned extra virgin olive oil, toasted on the grill and made with rare eggs that you can only find in a certain farmer's market that's only open during the summer solstice of every leap year for 2 hours.

Stop it.  You're missing the point of food(aside from providing nutrition).  The point is to have an enjoyable experience and to make something that tastes good that you can share.  What it's become is a canvas for food hipsters to put on an air of superiority.  Foodies react to food as if that is how they think they should react and not what they really think/feel.  It's not about brands or being ironic.  Stop being dicks.  

Re: the Kroger story...

I know Kenwood is not in Cincinnati Proper but it is Cincinnati to everyone else that doesn't dwell in the Cincy Metro Area.

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