COVID-19 has shifted billions of dollars of restaurant sales to other parts of the food chain. Meat and dairy suppliers for restaurants went direct to the consumers, while farmers began to make home deliveries through online sign-up sheets.
When supermarkets and other grocery outlets picked up much of the business, enterprising restaurateurs took notice. Some, like Thane Wright at Bower Cafe in Washington Square West, have converted little-used seating areas into grocery sections. Others, like Pierre and Charlotte Calmels at Bibou in South Philadelphia and Mike Stollenwerk and Felice Leibowitz at The Little Hen in Haddonfield, went all in, flipping their restaurants entirely into specialty grocery stores that stock artisanal ingredients along with prepared foods.
Wine is everywhere: Audrey Taichman turned Cook, her Rittenhouse demo kitchen, into a shop called Cork, Andy Dickerson and Mike Ellis went with a shop at Teresa’s Next Door in Wayne, and Michael Granato and Joette Adams added bottles to go at Society Hill’s Bistro Romano. In a bid for local goodwill, Lee Krasley at Epicurean Garage in Chester Springs started offering delivery of his customers’ pickup orders from the nearby Acme Market along with prepared food from his restaurant. Kayala Market, a block from the South Philadelphia Thai BYOB, sprang up as an adjunct to the restaurant.
“A lot of these [restaurants] were equipped to do this five years ago,” said Jonathan Raduns, a retail food-marketing specialist who helped build a small market for Jersey Java & Tea Co. in Haddonfield.
And from a labor standpoint, it also can be more economical to operate a market than a full-service dining room.
When the pandemic hit, Raduns said, “it became the ideal time to do it.”
Here are some Philadelphia-area restaurants where you can find groceries.
Restaurants and cafes offering groceries
In addition to prepared foods for retail customers and corporate catering, the Paoli company offers “Meridith’s Milk Truck,” an assortment of produce, meats, seafood, and poultry — “everything we’d prepare here,” said owner Meridith Coyne.
Olga Sorzano’s kombucha business in Chester County, built on her Siberian grandmother’s recipe, has morphed to include local foods, such as Food & Ferments’ sauerkraut, LUHV’s sweet potato jalapeño soup, and pierogi from Pierogi Kitchen. “As I joke with my husband: It was never my dream to sell eggs, but if I had to do it to keep the lights on, I would do it in a heartbeat,” she said.
The Bryn Mawr bakery’s “Essentials Menu” includes fruit (especially berries), baking supplies, such as flour, baking powder, milk, and butter, and even masks and paper products.
» READ MORE: Wine bottle shops spring up amid the pandemic
Pierre and Charlotte Calmels converted their South Philadelphia French BYOB destination into a French market called Bibou [Boutique], though for safety reasons, they offer only pickup. The products, posted weekly, include pantry and grocery items, gifts, and Pierre’s home cooking, such as beef cottage pie, rolled sponge cake, shellfish sausage, and pig’s foot.
Tinned fish — as well as bottles of wine, beer, cider, etc. from the so-called Fancy Wine Shop — is the specialty grocery item at this cafe across from Headhouse Square. Thirty varieties are available for retail purchase, or served as platters.
The elevated seating area at Thane Wright’s coffee shop in Washington Square West is being transformed into a minimarket with some grocery items as well as space allowing small businesses to hold pop-ups.
Many restaurateurs made their move to grocery as part of a strategy. Chef Matthew Hartnett, who opened the Woodbury deli/sandwich shop Brynn Bradley last fall, found himself adding groceries as his customers requested them. He said he basically sells at retail whatever he uses in the shop, which also expanded into catering.
“Food + Drink + Provisions” is the motto of this Point Breeze bar-restaurant, where Michael Sultan’s house-smoked fish and meats, bacon, pickles, and beer nuts are available, along with local kielbasa, scrapple, Rival Bros. coffee, and Plugra butter.
This Gloucester County barbecue spot is also a butcher that will sell you anything on the menu uncooked — chicken, pork, ribs, beef — as well as milk, eggs, bread, and cheeses.
A food market run out of a DoubleTree by Hilton? This Malvern hotel offers curbside pickup of prepared foods, as well as a large selection of breads, coffees, olive oils, meats, seafood, and even beer.
1 Liberty Blvd., Malvern, 610-296-9800, desmondgv.com, Curbside pickup.
Lee Styer’s French bistro on East Passyunk Avenue offers olive oil, brittle, pâte de fruit, granola, and wines, plus wife Jessie Prawlucki’s baked goods.
This farmer-owned restaurant chain’s outpost in the King of Prussia Town Center offers fairly sophisticated, online-only grocery ordering through a web form. Large assortment of groceries includes produce, eggs and dairy, breads, meats, seafood, pastas, sauces, and snacks.
West Philly’s sourdough specialist’s grocery list includes pantry items and almost everything for the home baker, such as flours, pretzel salt, oils, seeds, yeast, even tools. For 50 cents, you can buy a pinch of sourdough starter.
📍4634 Woodland Ave., 📞 215-967-1458, 🌐 fourworldsbakery.vpweb.com, 🚘 Pickup or delivery ($4) to West Philly, most of Center City, Fishtown, Old City, Washington Square, most of South Philly, and Mount Airy/Chestnut Hill.
Italian groceries, such as pastas and grains, pantry items, dairy products, oils, beverages, prepared foods, and sweets, and wines, fill the Rittenhouse restaurant’s ground floor, in a move prompted by the pandemic when indoor dining was forbidden. In-person shopping’s bonus: perusing the famous gelato counter and scoring espresso.
The plant-based cafe in Westmont, Camden County, takes online grocery orders, including coffees, organic jams, and syrups — even bath salts and nonfood items.
More than just a coffee destination, this Pennsport shop offers an assortment of gourmet items, such as Dick Taylor’s drinking chocolate and Goo Goo Clusters, plus — holy mackerel! — a massive selection of tinned fish.
This popular Haddonfield shop is a textbook example of pivoting, placing a market where seating was. Its product line includes cocktail mixers and garnishes, kits (sourdough bread, pad Thai, hard cider, soft pretzels, Amish popping corn), and refrigerated items.
Mike Stollenwerk and Felice Leibowitz’s BYOB has been turned into The Little Hen Market, a small grocery with a French theme: sandwiches for takeout, plus cheeses, provisions, even some kitchen wares.
The artisan bakery’s new location in Center City offers not only loaves for sale, but shelves of fresh-milled flours, pantry ingredients, cookie kits, and free sourdough starter.
Sarah Levine, who opened a Kensington location of her Luna Cafe in 2019, recently converted it into an artisanal cafe called Luna Kitchen & Provisions, adding to the made-to-order food, full coffee bar, and baked goods with a walk-in market stocked with local groceries, pantry staples, specialty cheeses, and local meats and produce. Her Old City cafe remains, as is.
The small-batch bakery’s Mighty Market offers a line of pantry items, juices, milks, and baking-related ingredients.
Go figure. This casual chain offers a list of pantry and grocery items, such as cheeses, frozen meats, dairy items, and juices under the name Ruby’s Pantry.
📍 Various locations, 🌐 rubytuesday.com, 🚘 Pickup and delivery through third-party app.
This Lansdale cafe has added a veritable supermarket of items, including produce, pantry items, frozen and fresh meats, sauces, cleaning products — and plenty of organic selections.
Chad Durkin’s bakery/sandwich shop in South Philadelphia has an “ingredient minimarket” selling sourdough starter, mixers, pork lard, coffee beans, dog treats, and bakery staples, such as sugar, baking soda, flour, and nuts.
This brewery/coffeehouse in Phoenixville offers eggs, milk, butter, cheese, as well as pantry items such as granola, honey, and jam.
Outdoors shop, cafe, and grocery/cleaning items, all with a theme of sustainability, live under one roof at the company’s flagship store in Old City.
Now in new quarters nearby (the former Crystal Lake Diner), this classic Jersey diner is revamping its minimarket, which carries an extensive selection of groceries and cleaning products. The new website, including inventory, is expected to be online in late February.