ALTAMONTE SPRINGS, Fla. -- Gooding's Super Markets here has introduced sushi bars in two of its stores.
The first, launched in September in a unit near Disney World in Orlando, Fla., looks like "a tremendous success," said a local observer. Because of visitors to the theme park, "there's a truly international crowd that shops that store and the sushi bar is often crowded, even at odd hours," she said.
The second sushi bar is a feature of the 18-unit retailer's remodeled flagship store, also in Orlando, which had its grand reopening this month.
In that store, the sushi chef is on the premises from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., but sushi can be picked up from a refrigerated self-service case in the seafood department at any time, a seafood department employee said. The store is open 24 hours.
At the store near Disney World, also open 24 hours, the sushi bar is incorporated in a cheese island, which is part of the deli department. The sushi counter is approximately four feet long. There, the sushi chef is on duty from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
A store source told SN that the bars are being operated by Advanced Fresh Concepts of Long Beach, Calif., a sushi company that runs sushi bars in more than 150 supermarkets on the West Coast and in Texas.
AFC usually hires sushi chefs from local Japanese restaurants when it opens bars in stores outside its immediate area, said a representative of the sushi company. "Having a sushi chef in the store, at least much of the time, is a message to the consumer that the sushi is freshly made," she added. And the chef samples products aggressively, especially during the first weeks a sushi bar is open.
AFC's best seller across the board, no matter where the sushi bar is, is its giant California roll, which contains rice, cucumber, avocado and imitation crab meat, the company said. The giant rolls, more than 2 inches in diameter, retail for $3.25 for six pieces.