EDINA, Minn. -- Byerly's will break into the Chicago market this spring with a strong emphasis on home meal replacement in two stores.
Prepared foods will greet shoppers first as they enter both stores, the company said. A brand name hot pizza program, a yogurt and ice cream shop, a coffee cafe and an Asian food counter -- all leased operations -- will hug the right corner of the store just inside the entrance.
In the aisle directly in the path of the consumer will be an oval-shaped, island service deli.
In Chicago, the chain will forgo the formal restaurant that punctuates its prepared food offerings at its 10 hometown units. Instead, Byerly's will devote more attention to take-out.
The two Chicago stores will provide space for casual seating, including an unusual cafe setting that will feature a couch, magazines, and a real, wood-burning fireplace.
"That will be near the coffee cafe and across from the service deli," said Tracy Wiese, spokeswoman for Byerly's, "but there also will be some seating at tables in another area nearby."
The idea behind the meal strategy in Chicago is to help the time-starved customers buy and eat quality food in whatever way they choose, Wiese said.
"We want to make it as easy as possible. If part of the family wants to have a slice of pizza and something to drink while another family member is doing the grocery shopping, they can," Wiese said.
"We want to answer the question 'What's for Dinner?' better than anyone else," Wiese added. And that includes helping consumers when they want to do the cooking. Byerly's created a new position -- director of culinary services -- for its Chicago operations to help them "put a good meal on the table every day," she said.
"Our consumer research has shown that when they do have a couple of free hours, like on the weekend, consumers enjoy cooking from scratch," Wiese explained.
The chain hired Gloria Reyes, most recently a senior food specialist with Quaker Oats Co. in Chicago, for the new post. She will oversee a Byerly's cooking school as one of her responsibilities, Wiese said.
Reyes will also be responsible for interpreting food trends and translating the information back to employees and department managers at Byerly's.
The first Chicago-area store, in suburban Highland Park, will open April 15; the second, in Schaumburg, will open at the end of May.