BOSTON -- When Movenpick Marche, the restaurant-market concept that has stirred industry attention in Canada, makes its debut here in the fall, prepacked meals to take home and heat will be a feature.
Take Me! Marche, the company's "home-cooking replacement" concept, which features prepacked, prepared meals, was launched in a Toronto unit of Loblaw Cos. two years ago. Previously, the Switzerland-based Movenpick had built its fresh-food reputation in Toronto with its restaurant-market locations that feature ready-to-eat fare.
The Take Me! element will occupy 10,000 square feet of a total 36,000 square feet the company has staked out in the Prudential Center for a combo of its fresh-food concepts. The location will include the company's original marketplace-look food court.
Linkups with supermarkets will hinge on the company's first establishing a "fresh" reputation in the United States, as it has in Canada, officials said.
"The idea is to use flagship locations [such as the one here, which will feature four concepts under the same roof] to develop our identification," said Thomas Stohr, general manager of corporate planning for Toronto-based Richtree Inc., the licensee for Movenpick operations in North America.
The Take Me! Marche concept at street level will feature open food preparation at grills and pasta stations, a European-style bakery, a chocolate truffle-making operation, and a large, self-service display of prepackaged appetizers, entrees, side dishes and desserts destined for eating at home or office. Limited seating will be provided.
"There is theater because the food is all prepared in front of the customer. It's made and packaged right there," said Stohr.
Asked if Take Me! Marche resembles any existing concept in the United States, Stohr unhesitatingly answered, "EatZi's."
The grilling and preparation to order by chef-garbed employees and all the hoopla that sends the "fresh" message is decidedly EatZi's-like.
"You can see the chicken being grilled, and the sauces being prepared," Stohr said. He explained that open cooking and a commitment to preparing food fresh is a theme that runs through all the Movenpick Marche concepts.
"We have no back rooms. The flour bags, for example, are stacked in the middle of the restaurant."
The Take Me! Marche concept is successful in Loblaw supermarket locations, Stohr said. The most recent opened this month, bringing the current total to seven inside Loblaw units. "With each opening, success is quicker," Stohr said, explaining that it's probably because consumers are getting more familiar with the concept as time goes on.
The company will introduce the Take Me! concept outside a supermarket for the first time at a flagship Movenpick Marche location in Montreal this summer.
Here, as it will at the Montreal location, the Take Me! concept will join these other concepts: Movenpick Marche, a food court with the ambiance of a European marketplace; Marchelino, a smaller version of Marche designed for quick service; and the Caveau, a wine bar that will also be serving a limited selection of food.
The Movenpick Marche launch here marks the first wave of expansion into the United States for the company that pioneered its restaurant-market concept in Europe. Six years ago it made its entry into Canada with its food courts and now has 40 locations around the world.
Next on the agenda is New York at the World Trade Center and downtown Chicago, both set to open early next year.
"When there's a high quality of life as there is here, we've found the population particularly appreciates high-quality food," he said.
A wine bar will occupy 8,000 square feet; Marchelino, 2,500 square feet; and the remaining expanse will house Movenpick Marche, which is divided into separate food stations such as the grill and rotisserie, the salad table, the seafood and raw bar. Seating will accommodate 600 but it will be divided into themed areas such as La Poterie, Le Bistro and the Locando Patio, which the company says "allows customers to choose their ambiance as well as their food."