Dynamist Blog

The New Test Kitchen

Safeway has opened a fast-casual restaurant in Menlo Park, California. Unlike the delis that have popped up in many supermarkets, Citrine New World Bistro isn't in a Safeway store. Neither is it a way of diversifying out of the grocery business. Rather, it's a way to test Safeway's private-label products on real diners, with an eye toward spotting emerging trends. The menu lists the Safeway brands involved, so the restaurant also serves as advertising.

This venture strikes me as somewhat similar to the Apple Store, which looks like a retailer, just as Citrine looks like a restaurant, but also serves as advertising, turns a product into an experience, and allows customers to ask questions and give the company more feedback than usual channels allow. It's also a pretty environment--not what I associate with Safeway.

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