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So long, salad bar: Grocers get creative, consider robots to revive prepared food amid pandemic
Grocery stores have shut down self-serve salad bars during the pandemic. They’ve taken away displays of fresh olives and dips. And they’ve replaced giant kettles of ready-to-ladle hot soup with sealed to-go containers.
The deli and prepared food areas that used to draw traffic to stores and differentiate grocers have fallen from favor as customers worry about the spread of the coronavirus, cook more from scratch and try to limit their time in stores.
Grocers are trying to revive those parts of the store with new approaches. At Publix, salad bars and hot bars have reopened, but employees dish out each item. Wegmans moved hummus, olives and more behind a counter where cheese shop employees fill orders. And at Texas-based H-E-B, some coolers carry prepared meals from local restaurants and a former food bar became an ice chest of beers.