MealTime Magic will be launched in a new store slated to open in Brickell Key, a business district here. The Brickell Key unit replaces a store that closed in the Miami Lakes section here, according to Linda Gassenheimer, executive director of public relations and food at Gardner's. The program also will run at Ocean Reef Club, a seasonal store, from Christmas through Easter.
MealTime Magic is currently in two of the retailer's four units, Pinecrest and South Miami. It debuted over the summer as a way to boost sales of Center Store products.
Though Gardner's has been offering prepared meals in its stores for 10 years, this is the first time all departments are involved.
Under the program, specialty recipes are prepared and sampled in a demonstration area. Ingredients used in each recipe are displayed near the demonstration area, which is set up in the center of the store. Also, recipe cards are handed out.
"This program helped make people aware of the shelf-stable products in our stores," Gassenheimer said. "It brings them down aisles they may not have had time to go down before."
One recent MealTime demo included Bella Pronto Sun-Drenched Tomato Pesto with Penne, Gardner's Rosemary Chicken and Tempesta Italian Biscotti. The entire meal required just six ingredients: Gardner's Rosemary Chicken, Bella Pronto Sun-Drenched Pesto with Penne, two tablespoons of water, one tablespoon of Colavita Olive Oil, 2.5 quarts of water and one loaf of Gardner's French bread.
The program has had a residual effect on sales, spurring movement of demoed ingredients not only during the day of the program, but days and even weeks later.
"They'll remember the demonstration and come back weeks later asking about the product," Gassenheimer said. "The displays completely sell out, and products continue to sell off the shelf weeks after the demo was held."