Restaurants: SpartanNash partnership could be a lifeline

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Those restaurant favorites that you have been craving are now going to be available at the same place you get your groceries — thanks to a partnership between SpartanNash and eight popular locally-owned restaurants.

To say the last few weeks have been hard on restaurants is an extraordinary understatement and many wonder if they can survive. So, the offer from one of Michigan’s major grocers was great news.

“This could be a game-changer for us, it really could,” said Chris Perkey, the owner and chef of the downtown Italian eatery Osteria Rossa. His food will be in Jenison, Forest Hills Foods and the Breton Village D&W.

“Every person that walks through the door for takeout and every person that calls for delivery is a lifeline. Literally, that is the way it is right now,” said Dave Ringler founder of the Cedar Springs Brewing Company, who gave himself the title of “director of happiness.”

There will be 25 SpartanNash stores participating, including Family Fare locations, D&W and Forest Hills Foods.

“SpartanNash is outstanding for doing this, they really are,” Perkey said Friday. “The days of just a packed restaurant, we’re going to be a while before we see those days again.”

The restaurants say the partnership is allowing them to bring back employees and reopen kitchens as well as buying from their suppliers.

“It’s allowed us to bring in cooks that we otherwise wouldn’t have needed right away just to keep up with the demand at the grocery stores,” said Christina Post, a manager with Anna’s House. “It’s been a really fun journey to come back and feel like we’re a restaurant again.”

Anna’s House employed 400 people and had to cut the vast majority and close all but two of their outlets, but the deal with SpartanNash is allowing them to open all eight locations.

“Every single meal is a heat-and-eat item and the instructions are right on the package when you pick it up at the store,” Post said.

The restaurants decided which of their popular menu items would work as a reheated entrée and they deliver the items to the stores themselves.

“So, it’s a little bit different than just going to the store and buying a pound of pasta and some Prego,” said Perkey.

Some, like Cedar Springs Brewing Company, will distribute to three stores near their restaurant.

Anna’s House will be at six SpartanNash stores, including those in Zeeland and Holland and will spread to Kalamazoo and Battle Creek.

The restaurants can supply up to five dishes, which will be available in displays either at the front of the store or in the deli section.

SpartanNash says 100% of the sales go to the stores.

“Let’s give a lifeline, let’s get out there, let’s try to help where we can,” said Dan Estelle, a retail director at Byron Township-based SpartanNash. “Why don’t we offer our customers, offer these restaurant owners the ability to get some of their favorite menu dishes at some of our stores?”

The roll-out started Thursday but should be fully implemented soon.

“Into early next week, we should have everybody up and running and having their favorite dishes ready,” Estelle said.

Other participating restaurants include Big O’s, City Built Brewery, Donkey Taqueria, Friesian Gastro Pub and West Side Social.

A complete list of restaurant menu items and the locations of the stores can be found online.