WESTBURY, N.Y. -- King Kullen Grocery Co. here is increasing its stake in the fresh sushi business, opening its third sushi bar in its newest store, and planning to add more bars at other selected locations.
The existing departments' sales successes over the last few months are what led King Kullen to plan more openings, chain officials said. The first bar was opened at a store in Bridgehampton, N.Y., early last year, and the second was installed in a Syosset, N.Y., store in the fall.
The most recent sushi bar opened at Commack, N.Y., in a 60,000-square-foot unit that was built from the ground up and was opened last month. The combination service/self-service sushi bar is situated in the seafood department.
"Sushi has been very successful since we put it in Bridgehampton last spring. It's a logical fit at Commack, which is our largest store," said Tom Cullen, vice president of government and industry relations for the 48-unit chain.
"We're putting them in areas where we feel they'll be accepted, where the demographics will support it," Cullen said. The Commack unit is set in a shopping mall in an area with a mid-to-high-income population.
Along with other, new merchandising elements at Commack, such as a from-scratch bagel operation and an international cafe hot-food program, the sushi bar is seen as an image builder, Cullen said.
A full-color in-store circular that spotlights what's offered at the new unit shows a tray of sushi under the headline, "Sushi Bar. Like a pearl from the sea." Beneath the headline, it reads, "Light and tangy, fresh and sumptuous, that's every bite at our sushi bar. Stop by and enjoy our master chef's creations."
The sushi is made to order and also is offered ready-to-go in small packages.
While some supermarket chains have chosen to place sushi bars near other prepared-foods programs, King Kullen officials said they believe the seafood department is the logical place for sushi.
"It ties in better there. The natural tie is with seafood and other fish available there. I think people would expect it to be by the seafood rather than in any other part of the store," Cullen said.
At Commack, sushi even has its own designation on the store map. While the seafood department is identified at the end of the fresh-foods aisle, sushi is the only category that is identified at the same spot.