SCRANTON, Pa. -- Insalaco Markets in northeastern Pennsylvania has established prime locations for grab-and-go meals in the fresh foods alley.
A combination of multistation delis, large in-store bakeries and spacious produce departments, the fresh areas create a strong store-within-a-store emphasis.
The chain has apparently been motivated by formidable competition. Its parent, Penn Traffic, has a strong presence in the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre area; before converting more than 20 Acme stores to the Insalaco banner in late 1994, the company claimed 33% of the market. However, Rochester, N.Y.-based Wegmans opened units in Dickson City and Wilkes-Barre in the past two years, and upped the ante for fresh foods quality, said a local business observer.
"When Wegmans came into this market, they changed the face of things and made people sit up and take notice of how they [Wegmans] were doing business," the source said.
Penn Traffic officials did not return telephone calls seeking comment on their stores.
SN visited Insalaco Markets in Honesdale and East Stroudsburg, Pa., and a larger Insalaco's Plus in Carbondale, Pa. The two Insalacos opened in 1994 and 1995, and the Insalaco's Plus is a remodel of an Acme store Penn Traffic, Syracuse, N.Y., purchased in late 1994, according to store-level sources.
Insalaco's meal selections include a variety of store-made sandwiches, salads and pizzas stocked in open coolers, a rotisserie chicken kiosk, a wide selection of deli items, and an expansive hot entree and cold salad bar.
But fresh dinner options seemed limited to rotisserie chickens and the modestly merchandised self-serve hot entree bar. There was little evidence of such cutting-edge home meal replacement options as prepacked full-course meals or prepared gourmet entrees sold by the pound at many other chains.
The three units vary in size and in fresh department design. For instance, two of the stores provide sit-down sections, one with room for about 20 diners, the other a smaller section branded "Cafe Insalaco's," where hot dogs, chicken wings, pizza slices, pretzels, coffee and cold beverages could be ordered and paid for at a dedicated cash register.
Cafe Insalaco's anchors the fresh aisle at the East Stroudsburg store. The cafe's cul-de-sac empties traffic directly toward the deli hot case and along the deli coolers. Bakery is opposite the deli, and the rotisserie kiosk, salad/hot entree bar and bakery carts are located between them.
At the other two stores, the refrigerated section at the head of the aisle is "Deli Express," stocked with quick meal items.