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Walmart in-store restaurants

Posted: 27 Nov 2011 14:59
by Super S
The original Longview, WA Walmart recently reopened after a yearlong closure which converted the store into a Supercenter. One oddity about this store, however, is the fact that there is no restaurant inside. Previously, this location had a McDonald's inside. However, it also had, from around the same time the Walmart opened in the mid-1990s, a McDonald's across the parking lot (which itself received an extensive remodel when Walmart was closed) The fact that the store inside was also a McDonald's didn't make a whole lot of sense, but they did coexist until last year. It also has a Subway in a former video store, also across the parking lot, which is more recent. Is Walmart eliminating restaurants from stores elsewhere? This is something Kmart has been doing in many stores in recent years. However, the newer Longview store, as well as the store in Woodland, WA, both of which opened last year, have a Subway inside.

This got me thinking about what Walmart had in the past...

I was wondering if the "Radio Grill" restaurant that Walmart had in some of their stores around here in the mid-late 1990s was a Walmart-owned and operated restaurant, or if these were operated by somebody else. The few Walmarts I have seen open with these (one I remember was the Vancouver location at Mill Plain and I-205) lost these when they were expanded, and were replaced with either a McDonald's or Subway. More recently, it seems like the newer stores that are built with restaurants almost always are Subway. My understanding is that these are actually independently operated.

I vaguely remember visiting a Walmart in Ohio in the early 90s which had some sort of generic "Snack bar" up front, however, that location has since been replaced by a new store.

Re: Walmart in-store restaurants

Posted: 27 Nov 2011 18:31
by TW-Upstate NY
The Gloversville, NY store, which opened in 1992 is one location I can think of in which this occurred. The restaurant/snack bar was located on the right side directly after the service desk when you enter the store. It has since been converted to sales space-a rather large beverage area is there now. This store is due to be replaced by a brand new supercenter within the next year or so and it will be interesting to see if any kind of restaurant (company run or otherwise) returns to the new building. Their Amsterdam, NY store (opened in 1994) has quite an interesting history regarding restaurants. It opened with a Wendy's in the restaurant space, then went to a company operated snack bar and finally ended up as a Subway before the store was converted to a supercenter where Subway remains to this day.

Re: Walmart in-store restaurants

Posted: 27 Nov 2011 23:18
by tkaye
The Bremerton, Wash., store opened with a McDonald's inside in 1996 and also has a McDonald's on an outparcel. The inside McDonald's was replaced with a Radio Grill around 2000 or so, but has since reverted back to the Golden Arches.

Re: Walmart in-store restaurants

Posted: 08 Dec 2011 22:59
by TenPoundHammer
The Walmart in Battle Creek, MI lost its McDonald's in the early 2000s. Instead of turning it into a Subway or Radio Grill, they gutted it for the customer service desk. More recently, the store went Supercenter and added Subway.

They also did an interesting thing with the one in the Alpena Walmart. They actually replaced the in-store McDonald's with a new one in the parking lot. The former McDonald's space in the store became a Radio Grill and is now — you guessed it — Subway.

In a similar vein, a lot of Meijer stores here in Michigan had McDonald's in them for a short time in the 90s. I remember that all three stores in Flint at the time (Hill Rd. @ US-23, Center Rd. @ Atherton, Pierson Rd. @ I-75) had them. The former two had McDonald's up in a mezzanine that also had a bunch of service tenants (nail salon, hair salon, etc.), while Hill Rd.'s was just crammed into the back of the deli. Both Center Rd. and Hill Rd. were "compensated" in a similar fashion by McDonald's opening a new store in the parking lot, although I'm pretty sure that there was a brief overlap with Hill Rd. (Pierson Rd. already had a McDonald's on the other side of the exit, which is still there.)


In a similar vein, how many Walmarts have a fast food other than Subway or McDonald's? I've found at least two in Detroit that have Blimpie (gag) instead, and another with a Dunkin' Donuts.

Re: Walmart in-store restaurants

Posted: 09 Dec 2011 08:48
by wnetmacman
Walmart phased out the Radio Grill concept in the south during the 1990's. This was during the time where most of the standard Discount Stores were being replaced by Supercenters. From 1994-2000 or so, if a new store was built, it had McDonald's, in most cases. Around 2000, WMT decided to start experimenting with these formats. At that time, several stores got experiments; in my general area around Lafayette, LA, we received a Kids Connection Center, with a limited menu and tons of candy. (Kids Connection is a WMT house brand, usually on toys and clothes.) These only lasted a year or two, because they really didn't do well. They have all been replaced with Subway, and each Subway is franchised. Only one store in our area has a McDonald's. Broussard, LA, which is our newest store from 2009, has a McD's just next to the front entry.

As for store location, generally, stores built up to 1998 (with the turret style construction) have their food service in the back next to the deli. In 1998, the Always logo began appearing, and those stores have foodservice in the front on the grocery side. 1998-2004 stores are adjacent to the deli facing the entry walkway; newer stores are in the mall area in front of the checkstands.

Re: Walmart in-store restaurants

Posted: 09 Dec 2011 21:13
by BillyGr
A few more Albany NY area ones:

The one in Hudson, when first opened as a "regular" store had a combo KFC/Taco Bell (both of which offered somwehat limited menus, and neither of which was in the area otherwise, though KFC had had a location right across the street many years ago, and there is now a Taco Bell/LJS combo also across the street). It later became their own snack bar and eventually no food at all prior to moving to a relatively new SuperCenter which opened with Dunkin Donuts.

Catskill Supercenter opened with Subway (and still is) - was no Walmart in Catskill prior to Supercenter.

East Greenbush (about the first one in the area) had a Radio Grill/snack bar for quite some time and after expanison to SuperCenter had something else for a brief time (don't remember what) which quickly become Dunkin (and still sits to the right of the right doors, similar to the snack bar position before expansion, but over further since they added a small piece on this side) - also there are at least 2 other Dunkin Donuts within 2 miles on the same road and several more in a 5-8 mi radius.

Brunswick (Troy) started with a McDonalds (close to the front) - and also had an existing McDonalds about 2 buildings down the street. I don't believe it has any food at this point (one of the few "regular" stores left in the area).

Re: Walmart in-store restaurants

Posted: 02 Jan 2012 19:10
by TenPoundHammer
All the ones that I remember Walmart-wise were in the front. However, I do seem to recall going to one somewhere that had the Radio Grill just randomly shoved in the back, near a clothing section. I think it was Malvern, AR, which has since moved.

Kmart was the same way with their snack bars. Williamsburg and Fenton both have theirs right next to the entrance — Williamsburg's is like a deli counter, and Fenton's even has an external entrance! This must be somewhat of a "new" thing as far as Kmarts go. Williamsburg I think opened in 1989, and Fenton is a ca. 1997 relocation of an existing store.

Meanwhile, Oscoda's is off to the side, behind the checkouts. I don't think it had a snack bar originally, as it was a very small (about 40,000 SF) mid-80s store that was expanded to standard Kmart size in 1991. Flint (Dort Hwy.) and Bay City are 1960s-era stores that are basically mirror images of Oscoda's layout, although Flint ripped out the snack bar about 5 years ago.

I think the original Alpena store had it way in the back, furthest from the entrance — the store was originally standalone, but a mall was later tacked on over the entryway. The replacement store (opened around 1997) had an arcade called the Laugh Lab at the very front (now a seasonal goods section), then a hallway to the restrooms, then an "open" snack bar like you'd find at an old Target. If I remember correctly, West Branch (an early 1990s relocation of yet another tiny 1980s store) also has a Target-style snack bar.

Re: Walmart in-store restaurants

Posted: 03 Jan 2012 01:11
by wnetmacman
TenPoundHammer wrote:Kmart was the same way with their snack bars. Williamsburg and Fenton both have theirs right next to the entrance.
The original 1962-1980 design actually put the main cafeteria in the rear middle of the store. In the older stores, it jutted out from the back wall. In the 7000-series stores, it was recessed into the back wall. 9000 stores rarely had them, as you mentioned in the Oscoda store, because they were too small to accommodate them. All stores had some sort of Deli in what we'd now consider the Jewlery area just behind the checkstands when you'd walk in. In the 1990 redos, the deli was moved between the checkouts and the front wall, and the main foodservice (Little Caesars Pizza Stations) was moved to the front corner of the store by the checkouts. In the 7000 stores with the recessed cafeteria, that area was taken over by the back room. In other stores, the cafeteria was simply removed.
TenPoundHammer wrote:All the ones that I remember Walmart-wise were in the front.
Wal-Mart was pretty consistent in putting the Snack Bars next to the checkouts. So was Target.

I remember in Henderson, TX, that the store was not built with a snack bar, and after the 1981 remodel, there still wasn't enough room. The snack bar was a carnival-style trailer outside the front doors, and it remained that way until 1996 when the store became a supercenter.

Re: Walmart in-store restaurants

Posted: 03 Jan 2012 15:57
by TenPoundHammer
^ That might explain why Malvern had the snack bar shoved in the back.

Kmartwise, Flint—Dort Hwy. is the only store I know of that ripped out the snack bar entirely. I don't remember Grayling (also a 9000 store built around the same time as Oscoda) ever having a snack bar, nor do I remember Grand Blanc (a VERY tiny store in a former Grant's) having one.

For the record, West Branch started out as a 9000 store in the mid 80s but moved soon afterward — their current store is a bland box similar to some other early 1990s stores I've seen in Ludington and Holland. Seems strange that they'd move in such a small town.

Re: Walmart in-store restaurants

Posted: 06 Mar 2012 00:26
by Ephrata1966
The Super Kmart in Uniontown PA still has a locally-owned restaurant (I forget the name) inside it!

Did a lot of Kmart snack bars once have their own entrance, but eventually make it an emergency exit (at least if the snack bar closed)? Seems like this happened at the Brookhaven PA store. Very strangely, they one day propped open the emergency exit because there was a garden sale right outside it. The snack bar was gone and filled with seasonal merchandise, and also was home to the store's main restrooms. Ironically, this particular store also once had an actual garden department, but closed it at the same time as the snack bar!

And I think here is the history of Wal-Mart/Walmart snack bars: before 1990, many of their stores had no snack bar at all. Then a few stores from 1990-1993 had a very basic snack bar. The McDonald's partnership (which also led to the McKids clothing line) started in 1993. "Radio Grill" was introduced in 1996. Many times Radio Grill would replace a McDonald's. Then around 2000, the Radio Grill fad started to die, and a lot of them reverted to McDonald's. It was 2005 when Subway became the norm for new WM stores. Subway also replaced the remaining Radio Grill locations.

Re: Walmart in-store restaurants

Posted: 06 Mar 2012 01:31
by wnetmacman
Ephrata1966 wrote:And I think here is the history of Wal-Mart/Walmart snack bars: before 1990, many of their stores had no snack bar at all. Then a few stores from 1990-1993 had a very basic snack bar. The McDonald's partnership (which also led to the McKids clothing line) started in 1993. "Radio Grill" was introduced in 1996. Many times Radio Grill would replace a McDonald's. Then around 2000, the Radio Grill fad started to die, and a lot of them reverted to McDonald's. It was 2005 when Subway became the norm for new WM stores. Subway also replaced the remaining Radio Grill locations.
Not quite. Wal-Mart had several levels of snack bars, going clear back to the early 1970's, depending on store size. Some of the earliest snack bars were actually outside carnival trailers, put just outside the front door. By the Project 79 stores, Snack Bars were integrated in the design. If the store was a center entrance store, it was just to the GM side of the checkouts. If it was a right or left entrance, it was just beyond the entrance doors.

The Radio Grill concept was begun prior to the McDonald's experiment. They replaced the generic Snack Bars. This took place around 1990. The earliest Supercenters had Snack Bars; it wasn't until about 1992 that WM started putting McDonald's in as the standard fare (Walmart Supercenter 398 in Longview, TX had a McDonald's; it was around the 12th supercenter). Walmart stopped putting McDonald's in around 2000; choosing to return to the Radio Grill concept. Around the mid 2000's, Subways began appearing in stores. Recently, McDonald's has started a comeback.

Re: Walmart in-store restaurants

Posted: 06 Mar 2012 19:02
by Ephrata1966
Are you familiar with the "Wal-Mart Cafe" (or maybe it was meant to be read "Cafe Wal-Mart") concept? The WM in Aston PA, which was built as one of the last Caldors in 1995, becoming Wal-Mart in 2000, had a very small snack bar by this name. It had a fancy black/tan color scheme and an interesting ambiance, almost like a Starbucks. Sadly it closed in 2005, and was replaced by a Subway, but that also has since closed. Now the store doesn't have a snack bar at all, and has a nail salon in its place. Not sure but I think the Subway was owned by an independent Subway franchisee, and closed because that chain really overexpanded in our area.

And what about an eponymous snack bar? The Norristown PA store (which was a Bradlees), when it opened in 2002, had a very generic snack bar with a red and white oval "snack bar" sign, in the font of most Wal-Mart decor from the 90's. This concept also didn't last, and was replaced by a Subway which remains to this day. I vaguely remember this concept also being at a Bradlees-WM conversion in rural CT where I went on vacation in early 2003.

Re: Walmart in-store restaurants

Posted: 20 Mar 2012 21:47
by catnapped
For the record, McDonald's contract with Walmart was terminated late last year (don't remember by which side), and little by little they are vacating their location in the stores.

Re: Walmart in-store restaurants

Posted: 24 Sep 2012 08:48
by pseudo3d
^^ That's too bad.

I know that my local Wal-Mart built in 1988 had a McDonald's after a 1995 expansion, which later became Radio Grill around 1998-1999, and that later became Subway around 2005-2006, which was interesting because in the old set-up, the counters were to the back of the restaurant, and the Subway had it on the left. In 2010, the Subway moved after the space was gutted for a Supercenter expansion. Interestingly, a store in Woodway-Hewitt, Texas, had a McDonald's in its opening in 2005 (it was a cool and large McDonald's, too).

On a related note, Marlin, Texas's small Wal-Mart (Project 79, I think--this type DID have a McDonald's in it to my memory--apparently these stores did have food service--but soon disappeared within a few years.

Re: Walmart in-store restaurants

Posted: 25 Sep 2012 16:45
by Ephrata1966
Wal-Mart still has very old stores like that one in Hempstead TX (west of Houston) and Vidor TX (near Beaumont). Strangely, they both were given updated 90's signs by the street, but little else. There's still a vintage Pizza Hut in front of the Hempstead store. Also in Vidor, there's a grocery store called "Market Basket" which looks like it must have been a Safeway (AppleTree?) at one point. It reminds me of a mid-50's A&P too, so it may have been one of them instead. Vidor also has the distinction of having one of the last Stuckey's in the USA, which used to be paired with a Texaco station but now has generic gas. I wonder why they didn't accept the Shell name change.