retail news in context, analysis with attitude


This commentary is available as both text and video; enjoy both or either ... they are similar, but not exactly the same. To see past FaceTime commentaries, go to the MNB Channel on YouTube.

Hi, Kevin Coupe here and this is FaceTime with the Content Guy.

During a recent trip to Toronto, I had the opportunity to spent sometime downtown at the Assembly Chef’s Hall, which is an 18,000 square foot space that feels like a food truck culture indoors - which is fine with me, since it was a lot colder in Toronto during the spring than I would’ve wanted.

The space is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner - offering a wide variety of cuisines, from barbecue to Italian to Mexican to various forms of Asian foods - as well as for drinks, which makes sense since it features two different bars.

The thing that most impressed me about these food vendors is that they’re actual chefs who take an enormous amount of pride in the food they’re serving. I ordered some chilaquiles - which I love, but trust me, you can’t get good chilaquiles anywhere near my home in Connecticut - and watched as one of the workers carefully crafted an enormous plate of food. But right before she served it to me, the chef came over, and apparently wasn’t happy with the proportions, because she put my plate aside and remade it to her own satisfaction.

If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing right.

Being at Assembly Chef’s Hall made me think about an idea that more food retailers should embrace. If you were trying to communicate a real commitment to food culture, you could install a small display kitchen in your store, and then contract with different chefs who specialize in different cuisines to come in and cook there for a period of time, rotating through two or three or four of them in any given year. It could get young chefs started, it would create a differentiated and innovative food-centric environment, and it would smell and taste and look good - everything a retailer needs to compete more effectively these days.

It would be cool. And it could make a store really hot in the eyes and ears and noses and mouths of its shoppers.

That, in my view, is how you compete.

That’s what is on my mind this morning. As always, I want to hear what is on your mind.


KC's View: