Galleria unveils luxury food court for big spenders
Galleria Department Store opened Gourmet 494, its revamped food sector, yesterday at its Luxury Hall West branch in Apgujeong-dong in southern Seoul.
The move comes three months after its rival Shinsegae Department Store opened its premium SSG Food Market in an area less than a 10-minute drive away.
As they vie for the attention of high-income customers, the two rivals have been offering diverse organic and imported foods recently.
Gourmet 494 is the pet project of Park Se-hoon, who in March was named the new CEO of Galleria Department Store, which is owned by Hanwha Group. Park, who personally tasted all foods from prospective suppliers before agreeing to stock them, sees the high-grade foot court as a new growth engine for the retailer, a spokesperson for franchise said.
The retailer coins the new project its “Grocerant,” a combination of grocery stores and restaurants.
It spans 2,227 square meters (23,971 square feet), making it over 500 square meters bigger than the food court in its previous incarnation.
Now customers can cook their own hanu, or prime Korean beef, at a kitchen in front of the shop where they purchase the meat. The food area also features a high-quality sushi restaurant next to a fish shop.
Gourmet 494 has also introduced a first-of-its-kind “cut-and-bake” service that bakes and steams the agricultural products purchased by customers on the spot. Its showcase garden of hydroponically grown, eco-friendly vegetables aims to attract healthy eaters.
It has also secured popular restaurants such as Sushi Matsumoto; Cafe Mamas, known for its sandwiches; Buzza Pizza; Vatos, a Mexican taco outlet; and Bistecca, a leading steak house.
Gourmet 494 also selected top restaurants from smaller franchises, rather than those operated by large conglomerates, and provides financial support to help them improve their interior design, it said.
“No one else has provided this much financial support for new restaurants, including the low commission rates,” said Raymond Kim, senior chef at Serial Gourmet, one of the eateries at Gourmet 494.
The restaurants there distribute ticket numbers embedded with digital location-tracking chips after taking orders from customers to help identify where people are sitting.
The food sector also sells 170 different premium food ingredients that have been directly imported from overseas, the spokesperson said.
Customers can find pasta noodles by Peck, an Italian gourmet brand, organic baked beans by Britain’s Biona, Croustisud organic vegetable chips from France and Found, a juice brand made from organically grown fruit in Turkey. The food court will close one hour later than the retail section at 9 p.m. for the convenience of customers, according to Galleria.
“Gourmet 494, the heart of the Luxury Hall branch, marks the start of widespread changes at Galleria Department Store,” said Park. “By providing upscale services and premium food boutiques, Gourmet 494 expects to win over both customers and subcontractors.”
Lotte Department Store today reopens its Lotte Young Plaza in Myeong-dong, central Seoul, after revamping 90 percent of the stores there.
By Kim Jung-yoon [email@example.com]