People loved the idea of Enzo’s Market. Unfortunately, not enough consumers shopped there for the small grocery store to survive, officials said.
Little grocery stores don’t work well. Small businesses like Enzo’s Market can’t buy in bulk nor get enough people in the door to break even on costs, said chef Daniel Lindley, who is turning the grocery concept on its head with a new Chattanooga venture called the Grocery Bar.
Lindley, a noted restaurateur, said fewer people cook at home than ever before, leading to an explosion of new restaurants on one hand, while putting the squeeze on the margins of traditional grocery stores.
That’s why he’s flipping Enzo’s Market around, boosting its stock of locally sourced prepared foods and raising the quality of ingredients to better compete with Whole Foods and other destinations that offer food stations in addition to traditional grocery items.
“Over half of their revenue comes from food stations,” Lindley said. “If you go to Whole Foods, those registers are ringing constantly, that’s the kind of volume we need. The goal is to acknowledge that model and improve on it.”
Inside the newly-christened Grocery Bar, dozens of employees are busy preparing for the grand opening next week, even as customers shop the aisles during the store’s ongoing soft opening. The Grocery Bar is still ironing out the kinks, but if it is to survive, it needs to attract thousands of customers from outside the Southside, and perhaps even steal away a few from the crowded isles of Whole Foods.
The goal of the Grocery Bar is to eliminate one of the food deserts in Chattanooga.