“Our philosophy is pretty simple,” says Jennifer DeBonis, foodservices manager for Woodlands Market, which has three stores in the Bay Area. “We try and offer a really high-quality product made with great ingredients. We try to be really conscious of the environment as much as we possibly can. We have a really big commitment to the communities that we’re in.”
Some of those products include an Asian chicken salad, spaghetti with meat sauce, house beef or turkey chili, and house guacamole. When the stores roll out new products, a dedicated demo person helps introduce them to customers and does cross-promotions with the other departments within the store, where customers can find the ingredients to prepare an item at home.
“We really believe in getting things in people’s mouths,” DeBonis adds.
Woodlands Market uses a central commissary to produce all of the packaged grab-and-go cold items for all three locations, with department managers having the authority to order the products that best fit their store’s demographic. All hot foods are still prepared in store.
“We have a great relationship with a lot of the sources of our products, and it also helps accentuate the quality that we’re able to deliver year in and year out,” observes Don Santa, owner of Woodlands Market. Prepared foods make up about a quarter of Woodland Market’s sales and one-third to one-half of the profits, Santa adds. “It is a signature department,” he says. “Many people do this pretty well, but when we first started doing it three decades ago, it was somewhat revolutionary, and we kind of set the standard in our area. I think to this day, we are still leading the charge. It has defined us on a level that has kept us in front of the pack.”