Ikea standalone cafes could be serving those delicious Swedish meatballs in many cities as the furniture giant takes advantage of the popularity of its current in-store sit down restaurants, according to Fast Company magazine.
It has already opened successful pop-up restaurants in London, Paris, and Oslo, Norway over the past two years.
Ikea, headquartered in the Netherlands, has long operated restaurants inside its massive stores with the idea that customers would stay to eat and shop for sofas and televisions longer.
"We've always called the meatballs 'the best sofa-seller,'" Gerd Diewald, Ikea's food operations head in the U.S., told Fast Company. "Because it's hard to do business with hungry customers. When you feed them, they stay longer, they can talk about their (potential) purchases, and they make a decision without leaving the store. That was the thinking right at the beginning."
Ikea also found that as many as 30 percent of Ikea Food's customers come solely to eat and not shop.
“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," said a company spokesperson. "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.”
Ikea Food had annual sales of about $1.5 billion in 2013, reported Fast Company.
Forbes said Ikea food sales are up about eight percent since the company overhauled its food selections in 2015. Some 650 million people dined at Ikea cafes a year in 48 countries.
The "Today" show reported that Ikea sells more than one billion meatballs every year — that's equal to 2.9 million a day. The meatballs have been part of Ikea's U.S. menus since the furniture giant opened stateside 32 years ago and Ikea now serves veggie meatball as a healthier option.
Ikea's presence continues to grow in the United States, with the company opening its largest store in North America in February in Burbank, California, reported KNBC-TV. Customers stood in line for the opening of the 456,000-square-foot store, with its famous Swedish meatballs, of course.
"It's an experience just going there, and that's what people are looking for in a restaurant meal these days," Bonnie Riggs, a restaurant-industry analyst at NPD Group, told Fast Company. "But more than that, what you get for your money is far superior to many other family-dining restaurants."
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