Homeland grocery partners with local restaurants

Published Monday, March 30, 2020
by Janice Francis-Smith

Corey Hollis, deli manager at the Homeland grocery store at NW 18th Street and Classen Boulevard in Oklahoma City, on Thursday pointed out his favorite entrees that are now available at his store and at Homeland stores across the metro.

Homeland is partnering with several locally owned restaurants to provide customers with prepared restaurant meals they can pick up from the grocery store.

“And we’re adding new restaurants every day,” said Hollis. “And 100% of it goes to the restaurants.”

The banner in front of the store’s display of ready-to-go restaurant meals lists Rococo, Hurts Donut, Social Deck + Dining and Aurora. For more than a month, the Homeland has also been providing meals from i2U Culinary Solutions, which prepares “dietician-designed and chef-inspired” meals for outpatients and others on a restricted diet. As part of the collaboration, i2U is providing fresh-baked bread for Homeland, said Hollis.

“Our company is all about helping the local community,” said Hollis. “Our motto is ‘Oklahomans feeding Oklahomans.’’

“We started thinking, ‘What can we do to help out?’” said Homeland President and CEO Marc Jones. “We’re employee-owned, we’re not distant investors. We know the communities that we’re living in. I enjoy the local Oklahoma City restaurants. I enjoy the restaurant scene in all the little towns where we do business, and then you get to know some of those people.”

Shutting down places where large groups of people gather together was the right move to slow the spread of the coronavirus, Jones said.

“But the unintended side effect is that all these good people who have spent so many years building up their businesses are now struggling, really struggling, because they can deliver and they can do pickup but it’s just not the same as the dine-in business,” said Jones.

First, Homeland invited food trucks, which are no longer serving the business district or large music venues and community events due to the COVID-19 pandemic, to set up in the grocery store’s parking lots. Then it occurred to him to think bigger, said Jones.

“I talked to Cody Barnett, who maybe has an interest in a couple of restaurants, and he introduced me to the folks up at Social Deck + Dining and Aurora and Bruce (Rinehart) over at Rococo and then this idea started to form,” said Jones. “We’ve got grocery stores with a lot of people coming through and a lot of people who honestly care about their community just as much as we do.”

The restaurant meals are currently available in the five Homeland stores in the Oklahoma City metro area, though the program could be expanded to all 78 Homeland stores in Oklahoma and Texas. Store managers in all of the communities Homeland serves are being made aware that they have the ability to help their local restaurants this way, said Jones.

“And 100% of the proceeds goes to the restaurants, and in talking to those restaurants I know 100% of those proceeds are just going to be keeping their lights on and their roof over their head and at least a couple of employees busy preparing these meals, so we’re more than happy to do it,” said Jones.

“Maybe the silver lining behind all that we’re going through is to see the creativity and the community spirit come out in people,” said Jones. “I’m hopeful we emerge out of this with a strong community, but I also hope we emerge out of this realizing that we got through it by relying on our neighbors and coming up with new ways to do things and ways to help each other out that we hadn’t thought about before we had to. I think we’ll come out of this stronger together than we have ever been.”

Read the story on JournalRecord.com.

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