WOODBRIDGE, N.J. -- Pathmark Stores here is about to roll out a complete meal program built around its rotisserie chickens.
The chain will merchandise a line of eight to 10 prepacked, refrigerated side dishes bearing the Pathmark Preferred premium private label alongside the rotisserie chicken hot cases in its delis, said a company official.
"We're just waiting now for all the sign work to be done, but we'll have the whole program set up in all our stores -- and they all have delis -- the second week in June," said John Ruane, director of delis at the 145-unit chain.
Large signs will call customers' attention to the program, highlighting three different meal packages for $4.99, $9.99 and $19.99, and listing what each includes.
Customers may choose one, two or four 8-ounce side dishes, depending on which meal package they purchase. They also have the opportunity to buy the side dishes and a selection of entrees separately. Signs and printed menus will list the side dishes and the additional entrees and their prices.
"Most of our stores have added the side dishes and some of the entrees already, but the signs will tie everything together," Ruane said. He also said that displaying the items alongside the chicken hot case is key.
"The idea is to get across the point that a whole meal can be picked up quickly to take home," agreed Tim O'Shea, senior vice president of marketing and sales at Laurel, Md.-based Grace Culinary Systems, supplier of the packaged side dishes and prepared entrees. "Rotisserie chicken is convenient, but people don't want to have to go home and make mashed potatoes to go with it. There's lots of potential for side dishes, especially since restaurant chains have been calling attention to whole meals in their ads recently," O'Shea added.
Pathmark's $4.99 Grab-A-Meal includes a half rotisserie chicken, one side dish and corn bread. The $9.99 Dinner Meal includes a whole chicken, two sides and two corn breads, and the $19.99 Family Feast includes two chickens, four sides, two containers of gravy and three corn breads.
"We did this because we know it's what our customers want. Prepared foods are in demand. Reaction to the side dishes and entrees has all been favorable," said Pathmark's Ruane. The side dishes are packaged in 8-ounce microwavable containers with clear tops. Pathmark's red, white and blue logo colors are reflected in a band-type label that seals the lid on the container.
"Rotisserie" is a prominent word on the labels, thus tying the packages in with the chicken program. On a package of chicken gravy, the label reads, "The perfect homestyle chicken gravy. Premium chicken broth and a hint of spices are stirred together to create this hearty gravy. A perfect complement to our chicken, potatoes or stuffing, the savory flavor is sure to be preferred." The retail price for the gravy is $1.49. An 8-ounce piece of corn bread also is $1.49. The side dishes, which are $1.99 each, are mashed potatoes, stuffing, macaroni and cheese, baked beans and herb rice. Eight prepared entrees also will be offered. They are: meatballs in tomato basil sauce and sausage, peppers and onions in sauce, each $3.49 for 10.5 ounces; chili con carne, $3.49 for 10 ounces; macaroni and cheese, $2.49 for 10 ounces; ham and cheese quiche and broccoli and cheese quiche, each $4.99 for 16 ounces, and 12-ounce chicken pot pies and beef pot pies for $4.99 each.
The side dishes and entrees are shipped frozen and thawed at store level.
At a Pathmark store SN visited last week in Nanuet, N.Y., sides and pot pies were displayed in a 3-foot-square island case across the aisle from the rotisserie chicken display. A sign above the rotisserie chicken hot case called attention to the brand of chicken used. Whole chickens and half chickens were presented in clear-dome containers. The price: $2.49 a pound.