Industry News | July 15, 2008

Penman Square Market and Cafe Uses Grab-n-Go Concept

Executive Chef Craig Dion has opened Penman Square Market and Cafe in Jacksonville Beach, Florida, which serves lunch and dinner, not much different from typical cafes and neighborhood restaurants. But one aspect of the cafe has really taken off--the Grab-n-Go dinners and prepared food-to-go that guests can purchase and take home to "heat-and-eat." The fresh-prepared items are displayed in refrigerated cases inside the dining room.

Dion has previously owned and operated fine dining establishments for over two decades. Dion sold Six Burner, his last restaurant, in 2005 after seeing a decline in the fine dining segment year after year and a rise in quick service and fast-casual segments.

"Although people want to eat healthy, chef-prepared items, they want a bargain and they want it fast," explains Chef Dion. "Chain food on the whole is processed food, and I want to provide something fresh. I love the restaurant industry and wanted to stay in the business, but I knew if I opened another restaurant, I would need to come up with something new and different to make it work."

"When conceptualizing Penman Square Market, we knew that folks who want a good-tasting, healthy meal may not have time to prepare it nor want to," explains Chef Dion. "A lot of families have working dads and moms, and the last thing people seem to have time to do or want to do after a day's work is to prepare dinner. Penman Square Market offers affordable, healthy meal options for both adults and children, and it's not loaded with chemicals (preservatives)."

Dion speaks not only from restaurant experience, but also from having three children of his own, all ages six and under. Finding time for him or his wife to shop and prepare healthy meals consistently for their family is very challenging. Knowing that many families experience similarities, Dion decided to offer solutions for serving healthy, affordable, convenient, and good-tasting food.

Penman Square Market also boasts a drive-thru window, allowing patrons to call ahead and pick up their order without leaving their vehicle. From top executives working late in the office to soccer moms picking up the kids around dinner time, the concept is working.

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