SLIDE SHOW: Bob Evans' takeout prototype

COLUMBUS Ohio Seeking to use its brand cachet to capture some of the growing market of restaurant meals eaten at home, Bob Evans Farms has launched Taste of the Farm, a retail and carryout operation located inside its restaurant in Westerville, Ohio.

The new concept, developed by Chute Gerdeman Retail, includes bakery offerings, a cold case with grab-and-go items, self-serve coffee, pantry items and food suitable for gifts. The takeout area, which has a separate entrance, was set up in a 600-square-foot space that used to be the restaurant's lobby and waiting area. Click here to see photos. [2]

Elle Chute, principal of the retail branding and development firm, said Bob Evans has reported incremental sales from the new space and said it was resulting in more repeat visits to the restaurant’s dining room.

Bob Evans did not return calls requesting comment by press time. The Columbus-based company operates 569 Bob Evans family-dining restaurants and is also parent to the 146-unit Mimi's Cafe casual-dining chain.

Development of Taste of the Farm, which opened Dec. 20, began during Labor Day weekend, and included signage, construction and product development for the grab-and-go items and some of the pantry goods, which was done in conjunction with Bob Evans' culinary team, Chute said.

Refrigerated items, which are intended to vary by daypart, include salads, wraps and side dishes. Bob Evans-brand grocery items that will be offered include macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes and sausages -- which the company manufactures -- as well as jams and jellies to go with the company’s signature biscuits.

The decor is intended to invoke the farm-to-table image, and farm murals were designed so that seasonal items -- such as cranberries during the holidays -- could be rotated in without having to change the murals themselves.

Plans for development of further units had not been announced, Chute said.

Contact Bret Thorn at [email protected] [3].