Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Point of Brew: Grocery shopping at the pub


March 29, 2011 |

I’m not sure I need any more access to alcohol than I already have. Alcohol is good for me, and for most other people, when applied in small doses on a regular basis and as an ordinary part of ordinary life; part, you might say, of a civilized diet and as a useful lubricant of the social scene.

I have ample opportunity for access to alcohol at home and in pubs, taverns and bars; there may be some slight inconvenience, now and again, with finding just the right place to enjoy a drink alone or with friends, whether in quiet contemplation, thoughtful conversation, communal sports-watching or a rowdy party.

That is part of the enjoyment of a drinker’s habit; the process of finding the ideal site for drinking, the hunt for habitat, is part of the fun.

But opportunities for alcohol are about to be multiplied.

I read in USA Today that, in a new venture, “Whole Foods invites customers to have a drink”; this is a direct quote of the headline in the Money section of the newspaper of Monday. A grocery chain in the pub business for goodness’ sake; will nonsense never end? I guess not — Starbucks is experimenting with beer and wine service at some coffee bars in Seattle.

The CEO of Whole Foods takes the view that “coming out of the recession, people are looking for affordable luxuries and a more intimate experience.” I’m not sure that a Whole Foods grocery store, among the jams, jellies and cornflakes, meats and cheeses, and pushing a wire basket, is a place I would look for an intimate experience nor, come to think of it, an affordable luxury. In fact, it’s a bit of a stretch for me to think of a bottle of beer in those terms.

Other experts say that serving beer and wine on the premises of a grocery store “can lift the entire experience of shopping.” I can understand why that would be a good thing because I cannot think of any activity more than grocery shopping that needs an entire lift.

Curiously, as I write this, I am beginning to warm to the idea of pubs in grocery stores because I can see how it might fit my lifestyle (this is something I have only when in Whole Foods, by the way).

My entire sorry experience of grocery shopping is as a motive force for the cart, that is, to follow faithfully she who shops. Occasionally, I am sent on specific errands around the store to find this or that exact thing. I am never dispatched to fetch anything that requires judgment of kind, brand, quality, price, amount or packaging because I will inevitability get it wrong, and must return it whence it came.

One giant advantage of a pub in a grocery store is that I could be sent on an errand and never return or, better yet, I could be deposited at the bar upon entry to be picked up again upon exit.

On this basis, I would recommend that Macy’s and Ann Taylor and Nordstrom also put in convenient pubs — one on each floor — so that poor fellow who can be seen “helping” his spouse sort through endless racks of clothing, as if he has anything to contribute to that enterprise, can be firmly dispatched to the pub. As it is now, the best one can do is find a chair and nod off.

Another expert lauds the idea of bars in grocery stores. “This is about creating community in the store,” he says. I have no idea what this means. He might have been misquoted and actually said, “This is about to create calamity in the store” because another expert commentator gives a nod to the risks involved and warns that it would not be a good thing “if it takes on a life of its own” and gets rowdy.

Now if it takes on a life of its own and gets rowdy, or at least convivial, that is what I understand as community.

What every grocery store needs, I guess, is a group of guys, not needed for shopping even as motive force for the cart, nor anything else for that matter, deposited at the corner bar hoisting a few beers watching football together. That’s community.

Veteran supermarket consultant (I guess there are such people) Howard Solganik says this venture of the Whole Foods grocery chain “in one step achieves everything Whole Foods is trying to do.” This is the concluding sentence of a paragraph that recognizes that bars in grocery stores would be a relatively low-cost way to make a lot of money. I wonder if it works as well the other way around?

Now this I understand. Making money is what stores are supposed to do and they do that best by serving the needs of their customers. I suppose, therefore, that Whole Foods customers are looking for lifting and intimate experiences in a newly created community, though I doubt it.

I think the idea of pubs in grocery stores would work just as well if they were to provide a place for shoppers to sit down and relax for a few minutes and enjoy a reinvigorating libation to counter the enervating activity of — well — grocery shopping.

— Reach Michael Lewis at Comment on this column at


Discussion | 1 comment

The Davis Enterprise does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • StephMarch 30, 2011 - 9:42 am

    Old news - Wegmans Food Markets started their pub concept in their Collegeville grocery store. Whole Foods is simply copying the concept now.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Recent Posts

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this newspaper and receive notifications of new articles by email.

  • .


    Are arachnids awesome or awful? Visit Bohart Museum to find out

    By Kathy Keatley Garvey | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    NAMI program offers mental illness information, support

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Backpacks for Kids launches annual donation drive

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Architecture in Davis, on ‘Davisville’

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Speaker will spin some fishing tales at Davis meeting

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3 | Gallery

    Kids can paint their own Breyer horses at Davis store

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Grandparents support group meets weekly

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Kaiser awards grants to Yolo nonprofits

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3

    Exchange program seeks host families

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

    Wine-tastings will benefit YCCC

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Pedro party will benefit Yolo Hospice

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Car lovers will speak Sunday at gallery

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Racial diversity crucial to drug trials, treatments

    By San Francisco Chronicle | From Page: A4

    Enterprise is focus of Davis Roots talk

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5



    U.S. is complicit in attack

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

    Extinguish extremism for peace

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

    With profound gratitude

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

    Someday, there will be peace

    By Rich Rifkin | From Page: A6

    Tom Meyer cartoon

    By Debbie Davis | From Page: A6



    Former Davis man at crossroads: biking or artwork?

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Aggie golfer headed to men’s U.S. Amateur Championship

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Giants outlast Phillies

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    A’s fall in extra innings

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Blue Jays hitting upends Red Sox

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

    Pyrenees please Nibali, Rogers in Tour Stage 16

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

    Albergotti to discuss Armstrong’s doping scandal

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B8



    Field to Fork: Skyelark Ranch, not a lark at all

    By Dan Kennedy | From Page: A8 | Gallery

    Name droppers: ASUCD hands out awards

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A8 | Gallery



    Additional casting notice for ‘Hello Dolly’

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

    Hear Los Tres de Winters on Thursday

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

    Picott to play at The Palms Playhouse

    By Kate Laddish | From Page: A7

    Fairy-tale romance in Barnyard Theatre’s ‘Pinky’

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

    Soar to Neverland with DMTC’s ‘Peter Pan’

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7 | Gallery

    Village Homes to host Rita Hosking Trio

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7 | Gallery

    Tomato Festival makes call for young artists

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7







    Comics: Wednesday, July 23, 2014

    By Creator | From Page: B6