The food stations are packed and the parking lot is full, as hungry Southside residents crowd in to sample the prepared foods dreamed up by Daniel Lindley, the former head chef at St. John's Restaurant.
Lindley hopes that by offering top-end restaurant quality food at one-third of the price, consumers will flock to the 16,000-square-foot Southside market, which is now less a traditional grocery store and more a series of stations offering food that can either be eaten immediately or taken home and cooked.
"It's going to take a lot of local support," he said. "There is buying power with these local foods, and that's hopefully where we can make this work."
Though the store is open now, officials plan to celebrate a grand opening at the end of next week, once the new sign is installed. In the meantime, Lindley has engaged a handful of chefs and cooks from across the area to start up what amounts to more than half-dozen new restaurants in one space. Shane Stone, a chef from Meeting Place, is the new executive chef.
There's a pizza bar, a soup bar, a juice bar, two salad bars, a hot bar, a raw bar, a meat bar, a cheese bar and more, as well as a new take on grocery shopping. Instead of offering tons of options, the new grocery bar focuses on an inexpensive option and a recommended option.
"Before, there were 24 selections of pasta sauce," Lindley said. "Now we're down to 2 or 3, including the best one, which we make in house."
In fact, all the prepared foods are made in house, many from local ingredients, rather than shipped in from a central facility like at some larger national chains, he said.
"If you go to Whole Foods right now, those cash registers are ringing constantly, and there are a lot of local people there," Lindley said. "But they're not local, they're one of the biggest national chains. We're local, and we buy local."
Read more in tomorrow's Times Free Press.
Previous news report about the birth of the Grocery Bar concept: