Though its brand philosophy is "east meets west," the marriage of food and entertainment takes centre stage at Nations Fresh Foods' first Toronto store, which celebrated its grand opening on Thursday.
Located in the Stockyards Village shopping centre in the city's west end, the 155,000-sq.-ft.- space (once occupied by Target) is the grocer's fourth store in the province and by far its largest -- the other three locations are in the 55,000 sq.-ft.- range.
The additional space at the Toronto flagship location accommodates a state-of-the-art arcade, party rooms and an indoor playground, and helps bring the grocer's 'foodertainment' vision to life.
The in-store experience is becoming increasingly important as the popularity of online grocery continues to grow, which is one of the reasons Nations is taking this family-friendly, interactive approach with its new Toronto location, said Frank Ho, Nations' senior vice-president.
"The offline experience is the most important for people ," he told Canadian Grocer. "That experience entails two parts: food and entertainment and we integrated two in one. We started with the family and kids with the amusement park."
Nations is known for offering ethnically diverse foods. Its stores include an eastern kitchen, western kitchen, pasta bar, large salad bar, sandwich counter, coffee counter, pizza and panini station and a fresh (never frozen) burger offering.
The first Nations Fresh Foods opened just north of Toronto in 2012, followed by a second store in downtown Hamilton, Ont., in 2013 and a third location in Mississauga earlier this year. Ho said Nations continues to look for opportunities to expand in the Great Toronto Area and for spaces that could exceed 155,000 sq. ft.
Nations is owned by the Oceans Fresh Group, a privately-owned company that also operates Oceans Fresh Food Markets.