Tag: grocery

Inside DMG Foods, the Salvation Army’s grocery store in Harwood

Photo by Craig Bettenhausen

Earlier this spring, the Salvation Army opened its first-ever grocery store, DMG Foods, in Harwood, a new direction for their mission being tried out right here in Baltimore.

“Because the Salvation Army has always been involved in food delivery,” explains Maj. Gene Hogg, “it seemed like a natural progression to try to fit into a larger sustainability program on food insecurity within the food desert.”

DinnerTime! From Soup to Nuts, Local Website Does All the Planning for Busy Home Cooks

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DinnerTime2

So, I’m guessing that I’m not alone when I say that dinners at my house are rarely Instagram-ready. You know your friends who post drool-inducing photos of every evening meal—each one more complicated, seasonally appropriate, and perfectly plated than the last? That’s not me. In fact, I’m lucky if a week’s meals feature more than two (or, on special occasions, three) recipes. After all, if you know what you like and don’t have loads of time to spend shopping and cooking, it’s hard to find the motivation to mix it up. But after a few weeks of the same butternut squash recipe, your beta-carotene levels may be through the roof, but you’re probably not getting a nutritionally balanced diet. And dinner can easily go from being enjoyable family time to a daily source of stress. Local entrepreneurs Laura and Charlie Moore know what it’s like. That’s why they spent the past three years developing the revolutionary new website, DinnerTime. It’s an unprecedented tool that does your meal planning (and budgeting, and shopping list-writing) for you. And it’s so customizable that your head will spin.

The DinnerTime team
The DinnerTime team

DinnerTime seems like such a common sense idea, and yet,  Laura and Charlie and their team of Baltimoreans
are the first people to really put something like this into action. The way
 it works is that when you first sign up, you input tons of information (though it
 only takes a few minutes). You get to note your likes and dislikes, dietary 
restrictions, whether you’re concerned about health issues, how capable you 
are as a cook, and how much time you want to devote to cooking. The system then asks you to choose the local grocery store you want to shop and which day you want to shop and then DinnerTime immediately spins up
 a week’s worth of dinner recipes for you, based on the 
information you’ve given. You can spin other suggestions, modify that day’s requirements, pull from a recipe box, and more. You can even send them your own recipes and they’ll add them to your recipe box. The shopping list is organized by department of the store to make it super easy to get through the store quickly and works on a smartphone. After you make each meal, you can rate
 it, so the system can learn more about what you like and
 create meals even more tailored to your tastes. Think Pandora for food!

When asked what inspired them to create the service, Laura relates a similar experience to my own: “As a busy working mom, I felt the dull, daily burden of having to figure out ‘what’s for dinner’. I wanted to prepare something fast, delicious, and healthy, and I didn’t want to spend money unnecessarily. I also wanted variety, and to feel competent as a cook. Resorting to takeout, except on rare occasion, didn’t seem like a good option. It made me feel guilty. It’s expensive, and typically not very healthy. Most of all, I wanted a pleasant dinnertime experience for the whole family, including less stress for me.”

Co-Founder Sharon Lacy brought a background in the health insurance industry, says Sharon, “I knew that 75% of healthcare costs are due to behavior: what we do (exercise and smoking) and what we eat. I knew that wellness programs were doing a good job in improving exercise levels and reducing smoking, but had no good solutions in the area of nutrition! So, I was confident that large, self-insured employers would be enthusiastic about their employees having access to a program that enabled real behavioral change around nutrition. And that they would strongly encourage their employees to join DinnerTime and then reward them financially for using the system actively.  I was confident that they would recognize that their employees would be saving time and money, having a better work life balance, and also be healthier. Healthcare costs would go down and productivity would improve. And the benefits would be for the whole family!”DinnerTime3

Indeed, since the site launched last June, DinnerTime has been rapidly becoming the most popular benefit offered by employers who are creating a culture of good health amongst their employees. User testimonials abound, but Charlie’s was our favorite. Sure, DinnerTime was founded to meet a need for others, but using his own service has paid off even more than he anticipated. “My personal experience is that I’ve lost 25 pounds in the past 6 months due to eating healthier on DinnerTime. I don’t feel like I’m on a diet, I’m just eating more of what’s good for me and less of what’s not so good,” he says. “We did dial the low carb option for our everyday meals. Low carb was recommended to us by the system because we have diabetes in the family. For $3 a serving we’re having salmon and pork chops and steak, and lots of fresh vegetables, because the system automatically takes advantage of what’s on sale this week.”

Oh yeah. As we mentioned before, the website asks which grocery stores you most frequently shop and builds menus around items that are on sale and in season. Concerned about my own grocery bill, I was blown away to see that the cost-per-serving of many of DinnerTime’s recommended meals for me was between $1 and $2. Pretty remarkable. And since DinnerTime is on a mission to help all of us, adults and kids alike, live healthier, happier lives, for the whole month of December, they’ll be making a donation to the Maryland Food Bank for every new DinnerTime member. I know that, thanks to the web, DinnerTime is available to dinner makers and eaters everywhere, but I’ve got to say—I’m pretty glad they’re based right here.  

The DinnerTime team is offering all of us in the Baltimore Fishbowl a  chance to win an iPad Air or $100 shopping spree at Macy’s! Provide referral code FISHBOWL when you create an account.

 

Dennis Graul Sets the Record Straight on Graul’s

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Graul’s Market, MOM’s Organic and The Fresh Market are vying for the space at The Rotunda to replace the Giant Supermarket was there for decades.  Family-owned Graul’s had been the front-runner until recently when representatives of the New Jersey-based developer Hekemian told  the folks at Graul’s that they had gone “back to the drawing board,” according to the Baltimore Sun.  Hampden Happenings, the monthly newsletter of the Hampden Community Council, publishes today the April issue with the below piece by Dennis Graul, owner of Graul’s Markets, correcting what he believes are misconceptions about his stores. -The Eds

As you know, The Hekemian Company, the Rotunda’s developer, is planning a major renovation.  Hekemian has promised a full service market as part of the new project.  Graul’s Market does not have a lease deal with Hekemian, however, we have been working closely with the developer to try to help the developer meet their promise to open a full service supermarket at The Rotunda.  We believe Graul’s Market would be a great addition to the Hampden community.

Allow us to introduce Graul’s Market to the Hampden community and help you understand who we are and what we do.

We are not a chain, we are a family.  Graul’s was founded in 1920 and is locally owned & operated 4th generation family business.  Graul’s operated stores in Baltimore City until 1959 and we look forward to returning to the city.

We are NOT a high priced grocer.  We offer better service and better quality than other full service supermarkets at affordable prices.  A recent survey of a market basket of top selling grocery, dairy and frozen food prices found that Graul’s is competitive with Giant.

We cater to the communities we serve.  Each of our locations are decidedly different and we adapt our stores to the communities we serve.  We are able to offer upscale products, freshly prepared foods, baked goods, catering services and more with everyday food items at competitive prices.  We listen to customer requests and concerns and respond to them.

Graul’s is known for our great signature products.  Customers come from far and wide for many products you can only find at Graul’s, such as our custom decorated cakes, chicken salad and fresh squeezed orange juice.  We are not an ordinary grocery store that sells lots of fresh foods made elsewhere; we still cook and bake!

Graul’s is known for extraordinary customer service.  We believe that a store is just a store until we add great associates to work there.  Customers appreciate our attentive service from knowledgeable associates that serve you with a smile.  Seniors particularly appreciate our larger staff to give them great service.

Graul’s supports local companies.  We sell hundreds of locally made products.  We also source our meats, produce and other ingredients from local farmers. We also believe that local companies make the world a much better place than large chain stores.

Graul’s supports the communities that we serve.  Each year we ask our frequent shoppers to let us know which organizations that they would like us to support.  We give back to the community with their guidance in mind.

Graul’s provides good jobs.  We would create well over 100 new jobs at The Rotunda.  We offer many full time jobs with great benefits for our associates.  We are a fair employer and we care for our associates.  Our goal is to be the best place to work in our industry.  Many of our associates have been with our company for over 20 years.

We encourage you to visit Graul’s Market in either Ruxton or Mays Chapel to better understand us.  More information about Graul’s Market and our contact information can be found at www.graulsmarket.com.

We think that Graul’s Market would be a great full service supermarket that offers the best of all worlds to the residents and business in the Hampden community.  We have delivered quality foods and extraordinary service to the neighborhoods that we serve for over 93 years. We hope to serve you in Hampden soon.

If you have questions about Graul’s Market, please reach out to me at [email protected].

Graul’s Market Vying for Rotunda Space

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The Rotunda could soon be getting a great new grocer.

The Baltimore Sun is reporting that The Fresh Market, MOM’s Organic and Graul’s Market are all hoping to take the grocery store space at the fledgling mall.  The 20,000 sq. ft. space used to be occupied by Giant supermarket.

SoBo Grocery Sort

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I’ll admit it.  The new Harris Teeter in South Baltimore’s Locust Point is food nirvana.  Dry-aged tenderloin beef.  Stone crab claws.  Prosciutto by the slice. But I think there’s something lost with the opening of a gourmet supermarket in SoBo.  It’s the mix of race and class I’ve seen in the grocery aisle.

Before Harris Teeter, the only full-size supermarket south of the Inner Harbor was the Shoppers Food Warehouse at the Southside Shopping Center.  A colleague of mine once joked that Shoppers offers the best people-watching in the city: yuppies in business suits complaining about the bad produce, frat boys from Riverside buying stacks of frozen dinners, grandmas holding coupons like hot hands in poker, cashiers with big butts and bigger hairdos, white moms loading toilet paper and pork chops into folding shopping carts they push home and black moms loading groceries into taxis that carry them home to the food deserts of southwest Baltimore. It’s a mosaic of shapes, sizes and colors all packed into the same, usually long, checkout line. People bound together by lack of choice.

But with Harris Teeter comes choice.  I fear the mosaic will break into its component parts.  It’s what author and journalist Bill Bishop calls the Big Sort: When given the choice, people will organize themselves into like-minded clusters.   In this case, white-collar folks will go to Harris Teeter.  Working-class folks will stay with Shoppers, especially when the 25-percent-off Teeter coupons expire. 

In some ways, this stratification in the grocery aisle is just human nature, or to borrow the cliché from the avian world, “Birds of a feather flock together.”  We feel safer and more comfortable around people who look like us.  Plus, we’re only talking about groceries, right?

Maybe not.  The new Harris Teeter is a reflection of the gentrification of South Baltimore.  The recession has tamped down home prices for now. But most locals expect the gourmet grocer to attract more young professionals to the neighborhood, and maybe even suburban families ready to give the city a try.  Rents for the new apartments next to Harris Teeter range from $1,400 to $2,500 a month.

What this means for me is that I’ll be sharing my neighborhood with more people who look like me: a 40-something white Baltimore transplant with a desk job and liberal arts degree. Yuck.  I can look in the mirror to see that.  What I want to see is a kaleidoscope of people; old-timers and newcomers, people who worked at the Proctor & Gamble soap factory and people who work at Under Armour, people who walk everywhere and people who drive, people who like purple Christmas trees and people who like real ones, people who wear Gore-Tex jackets and people who wear clear vinyl rain hats.  It’s the crazy quilt of SoBo that I’ve come to love.  It’s not always pretty.  But it keeps me warm.  And with that, my compassion for the differences I see grows. 

Even so, you will see me at Harris Teeter.  And the new Asian bistro that will be opening soon, along with the new dry cleaner and doggie boutique.   Shoppers will still draw me in, especially for the 59-cent “Colossal” glazed donut, the best in Baltimore.  And the smoked turkey tails.  Harris Teeter only has wings and legs.  But really, I’ll keep going to Shoppers to be around people who are different from me.

 

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