Cafes in Supermarkets Are Catching On!
(Originally published in the Winter 2003 issue of SoloDining.com, the newsletter.)
SoloDining.com's enthusiasm for "eating out" in grocery stores dates back to the July/August 1998 issue of SoloDining.com, the newsletter. We featured Draeger's Viognier (650-685-3727; 222 East Fourth Avenue, San Mateo, California). Since then, several other eatery/supermarket complexes have joined the ranks including, Wegman's Tastings, Byerly's Minnesota Grill and Andronico's.
Here are excerpts from our initial discussion of Draeger's Viognier:
Have you ever wished for a multi-purpose solo-friendly culinary center? A veritable one-stop complex offering onsite or take-home sustenance, entertainment, education and a delicious community connection?
Itís easy to get waylaid in the produce or antipasto or to while away time at the wine bar, but donít overlook a solo-special ó the myriad classes presented in the demonstration kitchens. (One third of the participants are solos, reported the Culinary Center Director.)
Here is an update on Viognier's, which continues to endear itself to solo diners:
Solo diners are treated to an amuse-bouche (a little taste) as soon as they are seated.
At lunch, which averages seven-eight solos armed with newspapers, tables next to a window or the fireplace are preferred. Dinner, which draws a gender-balanced eight-12 solos per evening, also includes bar seating: 10 seats, plus six tables in the lounge.
P.S. If you'd enjoy company with your meal, Viognier's will try to facilitate a shared-table for you.
Cuisine: California-Mediterranean with French technique
Entrees: $17-33 (Tasting menus ó three, five and eight course ó are available.)
(Note: Wegman's has opened cafes in 35 of its 64 stores over the past decade. Tastings is its first restaurant.)
Cuisine: "We want to introduce you to whatís the absolute best from the market next door and serve it with simple elegance. The food will be light, seasonal ó and approachable (no plates piled with gravity-defying ingredients)."
Entrees: $11-28 (Four course Tasting menu ó $35 without Wine; $50 including Wine)
Restaurants are featured in the following Byerly's locations:
Andronico's (925-977-1966; 1181 Locust, Walnut Creek, California) is replete with "round tables" seating two to four (See an open seat? Claim it for yourself!) situated in a selection of locations. Tables located at the front entrance are great for people viewing. Another select, enclosed area is reserved for wine tasting and for those who enjoy wine or beer with their meals. In the winter, management makes the event room (more round tables) available to the public.
Customers can order pastries, fresh sandwiches, Asian cuisine, pasta and other dishes. Cooks who manage food stations throughout the store prepare the items to order. "If a customer wants something grilled from the meat department, we'll be glad to do it!" said manager John Bacho.