McCaffrey's has risen from the ashes of a devastating fire to rebuild a state-of-the-art flagship store on its original site.
The family-owned, three-unit company in Bucks County, Pa., has designed the 40,000-square-foot replacement store to accommodate new concepts as well as bolster an already thriving meals program.
A year and a half ago, a blaze demolished the company's hub store in Yardley, Pa., less than an hour's drive from Philadelphia. Within weeks, even as the fire rubble was being cleared away, the owners erected a 10,000-square-foot tent with wooden floor, electricity and refrigeration (see "McCaffrey's Tent Store Thrives After Fire," SN, Aug. 2, 2004) and continued to do business on the site. Construction got under way shortly and officials got a warm welcome from the community when they opened the new store last spring.
"It was an amazing grand opening. People have been so loyal to us. It wasn't just handshakes. It was hugs and kisses and tears," said Jim McCaffrey, McCaffrey's owner. "People were lined up hours before we opened. Sales were easily up 20% over any other grand opening we've had."
Storewide sales have continued to be strong, McCaffrey said, but not quite up to where they were before the fire. That may be due to new competition in the market area.
Fresh departments here are contributing more to total store sales. In fact, prepared foods' contribution to total sales is up 3%.
The focus has always been on prepared foods at McCaffrey's but now, in this store, they take center stage. In a widened aisle that leads the traffic pattern, fresh concepts are grouped together to create a food court ambiance. Produce displays have been set up to convey a farmers' market look. Situated right above, at the front of the store, is a 2,500-square-foot mezzanine -- a first for the company. The area, with seating for more than 150, offers a lot of possibilities.
"The beauty of the mezzanine is that it has a full kitchen," McCaffrey said. "So, for the first time, we'll be able to offer cooking classes. It's also designed so we can use sliding doors to create different sections. There's plenty of space for our events and for the community's use."
The mezzanine sports a light-colored, ceramic tile floor and ceramic tile walls that make for a clean-cut look, but one that's softened by adjustable, indirect lighting. The area resembles a contemporary dining room.
"Everything's upscale and customers tell us it's comfortable," said Mark Eckhouse, vice president, McCaffrey's. "The tables have a wood look and the chairs could be mistaken for dining room chairs in your home. Thanks to the sliding doors, three different events theoretically could be taking place at the same time."
First on this fall's schedule, however, is one that will use the mezzanine's full capacity. McCaffrey's is donating the space, as well as the food and wine, for the Bucks County Society for the Performing Arts' first fund-raiser concert and reception of the season. Upwards of 160 people are expected to attend the $75-a-head event.
Such community events, with McCaffrey's associates decked out in tuxedo trousers, white shirts and black ties, do their share to add a touch of class.
Almost every night of the week, the mezzanine will be the site for McCaffrey's themed, family dinners, which have become an attraction at all its stores. Pizza nights on Wednesday and Friday and steak nights on Tuesday and Thursday, with special prices, bring in big crowds.
"They bring the kids with them for dinner and then do their shopping. That's been very successful for us," Eckhouse said.
Product selection at the store, which sits in an affluent residential section with some businesses surrounding it, has been increased. New items include prime, dry-aged beef, premium wines sold from a state store that's incorporated into the supermarket, and an expanded selection of pastries.
A new, permanent demo station presents some of those items and introduces other products. A new bakery manager is adding to the bakery selection. In fact, since he joined the company a few months ago, variety has been increased by at least 20%.
"Variety has always been a marketing tool for us," Eckhouse said. "We've always done superbly with decorated, specialty cakes, but the addition of 4-inch cakes has been great. They're taking off. Just the perfect size for two people."
Without actually adding to the footprint, space devoted to prepared foods has been increased significantly by building up.
"Yardley has always been our bellwether store for prepared foods. Whatever we put out there, there seems to be an appetite for it," McCaffrey said. "We have a huge selection and we're always adding to it. One of our newest, which I like a lot, is shrimp picatta. Then, there are the old favorites like our chicken noodle soup."
Although it's such a common flavor, the chicken noodle soup is definitely a signature item, he said.
All the prepared foods are made at the company's central commissary, which is also the heart of its successful catering business.
At the new store, at least 15 to 20 varieties of soup, along with other chilled prepared foods, are merchandised on two long island cases to which decks have been added, nearly doubling space to 72 running feet.
First in line in the food court area is a pizza station, where pizzas are turned out fresh from scratch. Then there's a 25-foot grill and a selection of hot food.
A new wings bar and a staffed specialty cheese kiosk were added to the food court. The salad bar, a Chinese counter, an extensive olive bar and the rotisserie are all within sight.
"The rotisserie business has been a surprise. We're going to add a second one at the end of one of the island cases," Eckhouse said.
"Previously, the prepared foods were separated from produce by a line of produce cases. We had kept them low, but still there was a division. Here, all the fresh food is together."
Officials also designed the store to be convenient for shoppers. For instance, the dairy department has been brought forward in the traffic path so it's right after the produce and prepared foods area. Further down is the deli and bakery, which were deliberately kept together.
"We know they play off of one another," Eckhouse said. "Customers may be standing there waiting for meat to be sliced and see a tempting pastry or a loaf of bread in the bakery and they'll pick it up."
The upscale look runs throughout the store. Even the signs are sophisticated. They feature cream-colored lettering on a dark slate background.
In fact, McCaffrey's own interior designers worked with the Pennsylvania State Liquor Authority to make the liquor store that's inside the supermarket blend in with McCaffrey's market look. Instead of just the plain, plate glass front one might see on a state-operated liquor store, there's a touch of natural wood, a modern look. The state also agreed to stock some premium wines, "some northward of $100," McCaffrey said.
YARDLEY, Pa. -- McCaffrey's is about to launch a high-end catering business that will be in addition to its existing catering operation.
The new business, James Joseph Catering, is expected to get its send-off before the holiday season begins.
"We do a lot of catering now, most of it from the stores, but James Joseph will offer real high-end, off-site catering for big weddings, black-tie events," said Mark Eckhouse, vice president of the three-unit McCaffrey's based here.
"We want to market it separate from the supermarket setting," Eckhouse said. "We thought when we first started catering that our supermarket ties would be a stigma. We don't think that proved to be true, but we think this may bring us additional business."
McCaffrey's owner Jim McCaffrey said he believed that while McCaffrey's does a good catering business now, the company could be missing opportunities, especially in the corporate arena.
"It's amazing the possibilities that are out there," McCaffrey said. "We're in a very good area. We've hired a new catering manager [Marcy Miluzzo] and a salesperson."
The new division will be housed at the company's 35,000-square-foot central commissary, which was expanded about two years ago to create more efficiency and include a kosher kitchen. It will provide the food for the James Joseph operation as it does for the current catering business.