Usually, my "quick" trips end up taking at least a half-hour because I get sidetracked reading nutrition labels and looking at produce. When I walk through those automatic doors, my mind enters a state of Zen as I think about new meals I want to make.
So when I recently learned that Giant in Springettsbury Township renovated its store and created a Beer Garden & Eatery, I had to go.
I stopped by for lunch. I was a little confused, at first, because I wasn't sure if "eatery" implied a menu. It doesn't. However, the store has prepared foods lining the right side of the store, a salad bar, and a hot bar. You can also order Chinese food or sushi, or made-to-order sandwiches and paninis from the deli.
Or you could buy a box of Triscuits or ice cream. The store is your oyster.
I gravitated toward the sushi station. I wouldn't normally order sushi from a grocery store because I enjoy the experience of going to a Japanese restaurant. But I love sushi, so I did. I chose a California roll deluxe, seaweed salad and a vanilla-hazelnut coffee.
I took a seat in the eatery and read the descriptions of craft beers printed above the coolers filled with brews before digging into my lunch. Tables with dark earthy tones lined a stone wall with old-timey pictures of Central Market and The Plough Tavern in York. Several customers browsed a few aisles and several coolers of beer, ranging from craft to local to domestic.
Store manager Kevin McDonald said the store sells a variety of beer.
The sushi and salad tasted fresh, and I really enjoyed the coffee, which had a sweet, nutty flavor.
I liked the atmosphere most. Though the eatery isn't separated from the store, it didn't feel as if I were sitting in the middle of a grocery store eating lunch - though I probably wouldn't mind that. It seemed more like a food court or a cafeteria that also sells beer.
I'm sure I liked it because I love grocery stores, but I bet almost anyone could feel comfortable there.
Chris Brand, manager of community and public relations for Giant, said the Beer Garden & Eatery serves somewhat as a restaurant. Customers may have a beer or two while eating a sandwich, or buy two six packs to go.
The store also finished its remodeling last week, which included expanding its produce, organic and gluten-free selections and moving the bakery with the rest of the fresh foods.
Brand said the remodel was in line with Giant's goal to provide the freshest look for its customers.
"We know our customers enjoy walking in a 21st century store," he said. "We'll certainly allow for one last stop for our customers."