New Pioneer Food Co-op is expanding into the cafe business, with plans to open a coffee shop and cafe in the Coralville Public Library and possibly additional locations in the future.
Marketing Manager Jenifer Angerer said the move is meant to help the grocery store diversify its business and is a chance to highlight the co-op’s strengths in prepared foods and deli options made with local, organic and sustainable ingredients.
“We’re looking at different ways to go to market,” she said. “Grocery goods — everyone has them. You can buy them online, Costco has them, Trader Joe’s has them.
“But no one is doing produce, prepared food, meats and seafood like we are ... . These types of ventures really give us a chance to showcase some of that.”
New Pioneer, which has locations in Iowa City, Coralville and Cedar Rapids, has struggled to stay competitive in an increasingly crowded field of grocery stores in the Corridor. The company reported a $272,246 operating loss in fiscal 2017.
The new Co-op Cafe will take over a spot inside the library at 1401 Fifth St. vacated by Cafe Crema in the fall. Angerer said a firm opening date hasn’t been set, but officials are aiming for early to mid-February.
The cafe will offer breakfast, lunch and snacks as well as teas, espresso drinks and coffee. The plans are to carry the sandwiches, pastries, soups, salads and smoothies already offered at the delis in the stores, as well baked goods sold in their stores, along with other snacks.
Snacks will range from organic fruit to granola bars, as well as house-made baked goods.
The cafe also will cater events at the library.
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Angerer said the library approached the co-op with the idea. The Coralville location of the store is just a couple blocks away, at 1101 Second St.
Co-op officials also are looking at potential locations for additional cafes in the area, possibly in North Liberty or Cedar Rapids.
“There’s nothing firm yet. It’s a concept,” Angerer said. “If it were to happen, it would probably be late spring or early summer.”
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