The Kroger Co. expects to spend $2.5 million to remodel a building in downtown Cincinnati for use as a culinary training and education center.
The nation’s largest traditional grocer plans to bring in chefs from its various banners across the country to exchange ideas as part of Kroger’s companywide fresh prepared food initiatives that may also include a Blue Apron-type recipe box service, according to a report in the Cincinnati Business Courier.
Kroger CEO and Chairman Rodney McMullen discussed these among several new initiatives at the retailer’s recent annual shareholders' meeting. “We believe this will further establish Cincinnati as a hub for the food industry,” McMullen told the Courier. “It’s nice this is in Cincinnati. The food scene here is kind of fun.”
Commitment to chefs
Kroger’s recent deals demonstrate its commitment to a chef-driven fresh prepared program. Kroger acquired of Wisconsin-based Roundy’s largely to obtain the Chicago-area Mariano’s chain, and made a significant investment in Colorado-based Lucky’s, both culinary-driven banners; it further launched the fresh-centric Main & Vine concept store near Seattle.
The culinary facility is expected to increase Kroger’s in-store chefs’ food knowledge and enable them to draw on cuisines from around the country. “It’s more about the food experience for us,” Mike Donnelley, Kroger’s executive VP of merchandising, told the Courier. “It’s about how to stay more in tune with food trends.”
Kroger would likely host about 20 chefs from its stores for a day or two at the 12,270-square-foot center.
Further, Kroger is considering opening cooking schools at a couple Cincinnati-area stores, the Courier reported. The retailer already operates cooking schools at a few stores around the country, including Atlanta and Phoenix.
Kroger operates 2,778 stores in 35 states and the District of Columbia.