Walmart embracing fast casuals, local services as store-based tenants

Fast-casual brand la Madeleine French Bakery & Café will introduce “Express” locations in 10 Walmart stores across Dallas-Fort Worth this year and offer shoppers a grab-and-go experience, with the first opening in July in Garland , Texas.

The Express prototype store has a footprint ranging from 980 to 2,209 square feet, and the menu will feature fan favorites like Chicken Caesar Salad as well as new items, including pizza, created specifically for the Walmart location, according to a press release. Each bakery will also have a retail area that will feature menu items for shoppers, in addition to new products like jams and sauces. Founded in 1981, la Madeleine French Bakery & Cafe operates more than 86 corporate and franchise bakeries in nine states and is owned by Groupe Le Duff, based in Rennes, France.

“We are very excited about Walmart’s curated food service experience for customers,” said Lionel Ladouceur, CEO of la Madeleine, in the press release. “We look forward to making it even more convenient for the DFW community to enjoy the La Madeleine experience while introducing our French comfort food to Walmart shoppers looking for a more diverse menu selection.”

Farewell to McDonald’s and Subway
The news reflects Walmart’s latest store development strategy, McDonald’s and Subway to replace longtime grocery tenants. The QSRs are not renewing all leases after renting space for decades, a Walmart spokesman told Retail Customer Experience in an email.

“As you know, these spaces have become vacant over time. We have filled them and will continue to fill them. We look for both restaurants and services that are truly relevant to our customers – whether it’s a local business (locally owned barber shop), a service that has local relevance (tool rentals in the Carolinas), or a larger chain that really delivers, like Customers shopping / getting their meals (Domino’s),” the rep said.

The news comes a week after McDonald’s announced it would be closing hundreds of its Walmart locations due to reduced consumer traffic to physical storefronts and changing consumer behavior, as reported by CNBC.

The QSR plans to keep about 150 of its 500 Walmart locations open. According to published reports, McDonald’s was once within 1,000 Walmart stores. The retailer and fast-food giant have worked together at locations for over 25 years, and Walmart currently has 30 Domino’s in stores nationwide and also intends to add Taco Bell to stores.

Earlier this week, as reported by Retail Customer Experience, Walmart Canada and Ghost Kitchen Brands announced a partnership for a one-stop meal pickup and delivery service involving a number of brands, including Saladworks and Quiznos at Walmart locations.

“We believe in Ghost Kitchen’s strategy and vision and are thrilled to be the first retailer to partner with Ghost Kitchens,” said Sam Hamam, senior director of licenses at Walmart Canada, in a press release. “We’re always looking for ways to improve our customers’ shopping experience through better access to affordable products, services and brands.”

Saladworks first announced its partnership with Ghost Kitchen Brands in late March and will bring 60 non-traditional locations to the United States and 30 to Canada by the end of 2021, with many of the new kitchens being housed in Walmart stores. Some will offer seating and all will be offered for take away and third party delivery.

As Fast Casual reported last November, Saladworks has been leasing space in grocery stores since 2019, most recently its first Kroger store, which opened in Cincinnati in late 2020.

“Grocery stores are an exciting growth area for our brand. As COVID-19 poses safety challenges for self-service grocery stores everywhere, Saladworks allows diners to feel safe,” said Eric Lavinder, VP of Development at Saladworks, in a press release. “Guests can have the same great experience and variety in a grocery store as in a traditional restaurant.”

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