Ikea considering opening standalone restaurants

Swedish-based furniture retailer Ikea is considering opening standalone restaurants to be opened in city centers, Fast Company magazine reported. 

Despite specializing in furniture, Ikea restaurants that include Swedish specialties such as meatballs and smoked salmon. It turns out that some customers visit Ikea just for the food. 

Ikea told Fast Company that 30 percent of Ikea restaurant customers are there just for the food. The magazine reported that the company did $1.5 billion in food sales in 2013 alone. And with Ikea adding fresh menu options, those figures are increasing.

"We’ve always called the meatballs ‘the best sofa-seller,'" Gerd Diewald, who runs food operations in U.S.-based Ikea locations, told Fast Company. "Because it’s hard to do business with hungry customers."

With sprawling Ikea locations being placed in suburban hubs, placing slimmed down Ikea restaurants provide an opportunity to serve its original meals in urban cores. 

Ikea has opened cafes in London and Paris, and now is considering doing so in the United States. 

“The mere fact that we don’t need so many square feet to do a café or a restaurant makes it interesting by itself,” Michael La Cour, Ikea Food’s managing director, told Fast Company. “I firmly believe there is potential. I hope in a few years our customers will be saying, ‘Ikea is a great place to eat—and, by the way, they also sell some furniture.’”

In a statement from Ikea, the company said no decision has been made on whether to open standalone restaurants:

“IKEA Food is continuously thinking of how to meet the growing interest in food among consumers and find ways to meet them where they are. While we have experimented with new ways of enjoying IKEA food – including through pick-up points and pop up restaurant events in London, Paris and Toronto - no decisions on standalone restaurants have been made at this time.” 

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