As numbers of new Covid-19 cases in the U.S. grow each day, grocers are working to keep up with demand yet still keep employees and customers safe. Some also are reaching out to their restaurant neighbors, which are shutting their dining rooms during this national emergency. In the Southeast, Sedano’s Supermarkets, Rouses Markets, Southeastern Grocers and Publix are doing what they can to help their communities.
Relief for restaurant employees sparks unique partnership
During these unprecedented times, with restaurants being forced to close temporarily and supermarkets facing more demand than usual due to the Covid-19 pandemic, three Miami, Florida, landmarks have joined forces to support one another.
Sedano’s Supermarkets, Versailles and La Carreta have partnered to provide temporary jobs for the restaurants’ employees affected by this pandemic. The leading independent Hispanic grocery chain in the country looks to add up to 400 full-time and part-time positions across its stores, while Versailles and La Carreta close their dining rooms and focus only on takeout, delivery and walk-up window orders.
“This collaboration reflects who we are as companies in our community,” said Javier Herrán, chief marketing officer of Sedano’s Supermarkets. “During difficult times, local businesses and communities need to support one another.”
“Much like Sedano’s, our employees are like family and we want each of them to know that their jobs will be waiting for them once this crisis concludes. We look forward to welcoming them back, but we can rest easier knowing they are being taken care of,” said Felipe Valls Jr., owner of Versailles and La Carreta restaurants.
The partnership between Sedano’s Supermarkets, La Carreta and Versailles illustrates how local businesses can come together and support one another, changing the course and emerging stronger together.
Founded in 1962 by the Herrán and Guerra families, Sedano’s Supermarkets has grown to become one of the leading independent grocery chains in the United States. Sedano’s serves Florida’s growing multicultural communities with 35 stores and more than 3,000 employees in Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, Orange and Osceola counties.
A Miami tradition for nearly 50 years, Versailles is known as “The World’s Most Famous Cuban Restaurant.” Owned by the Valls family, Versailles provides family-style, Cuban cuisine in the heart of Little Havana.
Founded in Little Havana’s Calle Ocho in 1976 by the Valls family, La Carreta Restaurants are a staple of the old Cuba’s family dining traditions featuring “abuela style” food and authentic Cuban espresso. After Cuba’s political takeover of 1959, a large and growing number of Cubans in exile moved to Miami in search of a community akin to that of their homeland. Out of the growing demand for an authentic cultural hub, La Carreta was born.
Restaurant meals-to-go available at some Rouses Markets locations
Thibodaux, Louisiana-based Rouses Markets CEO Donny Rouse has announced a new way customers can help support the local restaurant industry that has been dramatically impacted by recent shutdowns due to the Covid-19 pandemic. In addition to delivery and takeout, you can now get restaurant meals at Rouses.
“We are one food community, and much as we can, we will support each other during these difficult times,” Rouse said.
Beginning March 20, Rouses Markets is testing a program that lets customers purchase meals-to-go prepared by some of their favorite restaurants and sold in their stores. The restaurants keep the profit from the sales.
“Our customers visit our stores for lunch or dinner, not just for groceries. This gives restaurants another way to sell takeout and our customers another way to support some of their favorite restaurants and chefs,” Rouse said.
You can purchase Turtle Soup and Grits & Grillades prepared by Chef Tory McPhail of Commander’s Palace, and pita and hummus prepared by Chef Alon Shaya of Saba at Rouses Market in downtown New Orleans, 701 Baronne Street. You can also purchase plate meals from Big Mike’s BBQ at the Rouses Market in Thibodaux, 204 North Canal Boulevard, including fried catfish today for Lent. Frank Brightsen will begin selling at Rouses Market on Tchoupitoulas in Uptown New Orleans in the coming days. Bread from Bywater Bakery will be available at two New Orleans locations to be announced.
“We’re also trying to help restaurants that find themselves with a surplus of inventory. We purchased a large quantity of USDA Prime Beef steaks from Dickie Brennan’s Steakhouse. They will soon be in our stores,” said Rouse.
For those in the hospitality industry who find themselves temporarily out of work, Rouses is hiring and has immediate openings available.
“I encourage you to apply,” said Rouse. “We will teach you the grocery business.”
The late Anthony J. Rouse Sr. founded Rouses Markets in 1960. Donny Rouse, CEO, is the third generation of the family to lead the family-owned chain, which is one of the largest independents in the country. Rouses Markets has stores in Louisiana, along the Mississippi Gulf Coast and Lower Alabama and employs more than 7,000 team members.
SEG supports customers, associates during pandemic
Jacksonville, Florida-based Southeastern Grocers Inc. (SEG), parent company and home of Bi-Lo, Fresco y Más, Harveys Supermarket and Winn-Dixie grocery stores, is taking immediate actions to better assist the community during this global public health emergency. The regional grocer will offer modified store and pharmacy hours to provide clean, safe shopping environments as well as employment opportunities for those in need throughout the Southeast.
“As a grocer and people-first company, we are doing everything in our power during this time of uncertainty to lessen the impact it has on our associates, customers, community members and their loved ones,” said Anthony Hucker, president and CEO of Southeastern Grocers. “When shopping in our stores, please be kind to one another and take a minute to thank our heroic associates for going above and beyond to serve our customers. Now more than ever, it is imperative we work together to ensure all individuals and families have access to a safe shopping environment as well as fresh, nutritious meals as more people are eating at home. We are always looking for talented associates who can provide our customers with quality service. Given the increasing demand for essential items, we have expedited the hiring process to ensure we can provide jobs to those who have been impacted by the current situation. As a community, we are stronger together.”
As a special safety precaution, seniors and high-risk customers are invited to shop their local Bi-Lo, Fresco y Más, Harveys Supermarket or Winn-Dixie grocery store from 8-9 a.m., Monday through Friday. The grocers ask all customers to respect this time given to the elderly and other high-risk community members to allow them the comfort of purchasing necessary products in a safe environment. The grocers also will open all pharmacy locations at 8 a.m. on weekdays to allow these same customers extra time to fill prescriptions or seek counseling with expert pharmacists. On weekends, pharmacy locations will open at the usual time of operations.
All pharmacy locations will remain open and are prepared to provide influenza and pneumonia vaccines to help promote the health and well-being of customers.
In addition, Southeastern Grocers continues its commitment to organizations like Feeding America that aim to better communities by providing meals to individuals who need it most. The SEG Gives Foundation will donate $250,000 to Feeding America to help its network of food banks provide much-needed support to those facing food insecurity during the Covid-19 pandemic. The grocer’s donation will help ensure meals will be provided to customers throughout the Southeast—now, when they need it most.
Due to the current impact of Covid-19 on hospitality and restaurant industries, Southeastern Grocers is hiring additional associates to be neighborhood heroes in serving customers and communities. The grocer is offering positions to individuals throughout the Southeast who have been affected by restricted working hours as a result of mandated store and restaurant closures. Individuals who are interested in applying can visit their local Bi-Lo, Fresco y Más, Harveys Supermarket and Winn-Dixie grocery stores for more information or visit segrocers.com/careers.
All Bi-Lo, Fresco y Más, Harveys Supermarket and Winn-Dixie grocery stores will close at 8 p.m. This change will give associates the time needed to appropriately restock store shelves and ensure stores are able to conduct additional sanitation procedures.
SEG is one of the largest conventional supermarket companies in the U.S. SEG grocery stores, liquor stores and in-store pharmacies serve communities throughout the seven southeastern states of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina and South Carolina.
Publix offering senior shopping hours on Tuesdays, Wednesdays
Lakeland, Florida-based Publix is designating Tuesday and Wednesday mornings, from 7-8 a.m., as senior shopping hours for customers age 65 and over. This change in hours will begin Tuesday, March 24, and continue until further notice. Publix Pharmacy also will open at 7 a.m. on Tuesdays and Wednesdays to serve the senior population.
According to the CDC, individuals over the age of 65 are at increased risk of complications from the coronavirus. Publix is offering these expanded hours to better support its elder community.
Publix, the largest employee-owned company in the U.S. with more than 200,000 associates, currently operates 1,243 stores in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia.