EDIT: Hazel's Picture Gallery 10th Birthday Party will be in Handlery Hotel Room 123, Saturday Night 2008-03-01.
Winter recap continues...
Orange County, California, is where a lot of business ideas start.
Especially having to do with food. To be fair, so is the rest of Southern
California - McDonald's out in San Bernardino, Jack-in-the-Box down in San
Diego, Trader Joe's in South Pasadena, and so forth. (I think the only major fast food chain that has a lot of stores in California that started out of state is KFC, which began somewhere out near Tennessee. We don't have any or many White Castles, for example, so it's hard to find a small serving of Chicken Rings when you want 'em.)
If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere. So when UK giant
Tesco, which is more than a grocery store or ordinary supermarket -- you can sign up for
phone and internet service at Tesco, you can find Doctor Who toys
decided to expand into the American market, they started with Orange
( No, they're not building Tescos here.Collapse )
Anyhow. If you like TJ's for putting meals together, you might want to
Fresh & Easy,
Tesco's new market. A mid-sized market smaller
than the supermarkets (even the older, smaller sized supermarkets) but
larger than convenience stores. One of their very first stores is the one
in Orange, at Chapman and Main. library_lynn and I stopped by
there, in December.
As you walk in, the first section you'll hit are the produce and
ready-to-heat foods. Basically, the more you want to cook from scratch,
the further in the store you go to find that stuff -- if you want to dash
in, pick something for dinner and go out, it's set up to be very easy.
The place has all self-serve checkstands, although there's a cashier or
two to ring up your purchases. (At the same checkstand; basically they're
just helping you push the buttons.) They've got their fresh produce packed
in plastic bags with bar codes, so nobody has to ring up 4-digit produce
codes. You want to buy some pasta, a sauce, and some meat to go on it?
Want the meat pre-cooked so you just heat it up? They've got it.
They've got a big kitchen, I believe it's in south O.C. (probably near the
El Toro Y - the 405/5 junction -- because they've got a Lake Forest store
acto their website) where they cook
all their pre-cooked food. No preservatives, so everything fresh tends to
have a short use-by date. You could walk in tonight, the 28th of February,
and find things marked USE (OR FREEZE) BY 29 FEB. Seriously, for
much of the first cold case, you'll want to just get a few days' supply of
food and plan to come back.
But that's their target audience. People who aren't doing a lot
of methodical menu planning. colleency might not find this
store to be her taste, assuming they open one up over by LAX for her.
(Probably not, because TJ's is almost walking distance from her house. In
fact, I've got a hunch that if you start plotting Fresh & Easy locations
on a map that has TJ's marked on them, they won't be putting 'em too close
to Joe. Wait a minute, I spoke too soon -- they've got a store planned on
Rosecrans west of Aviation. That's practically the same shopping center as
the Trader Joe's there. But there aren't any currently announced going in
further up the LAX area/West Side. Maybe they're going to wait and see
what happens when they're competing head to head with TJ's?)
The store is aimed at people who are in a hurry, want to dash in, pick
something out of a manageable array of choices, and get home. They want to
cook, they don't want to cook that much.
One of the things I really like is the slightly subversive, if I can use
that word for something as innocuous as this, the slightly subversive way
they try to get you to make healthier choices or to cook from scratch.
They have some of the "Lunchable" line of box lunches. But they also put
together their own lunch packs, with some pieces of fresh fruit and a
piece of cheese
and so forth. You don't have to get the high-fat, high-sodium
preservative-laden big commercial product. If you want it, it's there, but
you could get this better house-brand product that's actually on
at eye level and easier to get.
Arguably, the cynic in me counters that they've got the Lunchable products
lower down so that your crumb crushers can grab them easily and put them
They have a permanent sampling station, right by the fruit, veg, and the
first cold cases. (Tell me they didn't go to TJ's...) They've simplified
things deliberately, in some cases, by reducing the selection available.
You want a supermarket's selection of thirty of fifty kinds of soda pop?
Fine, go to Ralphs. They've got maybe six or ten flavors here at Fresh &
Easy. Keep the store
from getting too big.
And I was talking about cook-from-scratch. The thing that charmed
me the most about
Fresh & Easy
was this: the aisle that has the crackers,
cookies, and candy is the same aisle that has the Jell-O, brownie and cake
mix, flour, sugar, chocolate chips, and so forth. You could buy some
commercial sweets for your dessert... or maybe you'd like to try baking
something yourself this time around?
Finally, I eagerly look forward to when they offer logo merchandise.
Although perhaps a "Fresh & Easy" t-shirt would sell better at Hot Topic?