KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- Ball's Food Stores here has replaced the in-house Chinese food program in one of its Hen House Village Markets with a restaurant operated by a West Coast food-service chain.
The restaurant, being run by Rice Garden, Alhambra, Calif., opened Jan. 15 inside a Hen House in Leawood, a fast-growing Kansas City suburb with a preponderance of high-income households.
Officials at Ball's, which owns and operates 20 supermarkets in Kansas and Missouri, could not be reached for comment at press time.
Local observers, however, told SN that Rice Garden's lunchtime business is brisk in the Hen House unit. Overall, the local sources said the store's Chinese-food sales appear to have grown since the deal was struck with Rice Garden. The uptick in sales was apparently achieved without any advertisements or other promotions outside the store. The Leawood store's location could account for healthy lunch sales. Several small businesses are situated nearby, and there is a shopping center directly across the street.
Rice Garden, in a lease agreement with Ball's, is occupying the same space within the stores that the retailer's Chinese program did. The restaurant is adjacent to a bagel and coffee shop that's early in the traffic pattern. The Chinese program and the coffee shop share a small seating area.
A lighted menu board and a "more brightly lit" steam table give the Rice Garden counter more of a "restaurant look" than the Ball's-run Chinese program had, a local source said.