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For your meatball fix. 

Elisabeth Sherman
April 17, 2017

Ikea is notorious for a few things: It’s maze-like stores that break up couples. It’s difficult-to-assemble but reliably inexpensive furniture. And of course, it’s Swedish meatballs

The massive furniture store wants to capitalize on the popularity of its in-house cafeteria with stand alone restaurants, according to a new report from Fast Company magazine. They found that in 2016, the company served 650 million people and sold $1.8 billion in food alone. That year, 30 percent of cusomters came to Ikea just to eat. If you’re surprised, remember that at Ikea you can feed your entire family for around $20. 

“We’ve always called the meatballs ‘the best sofa-seller,’” Gerd Diewald, who runs Ikea’s food operations in the U.S, told Fast Company. “Because it’s hard to do business with hungry customers.”

Ikea has recently upgraded it’s food offerings, in response to how popular their cafeteria has turned out to be: There’s now chicken and vegan meatballs, and separate cafeterias depending the experience a shopper is looking for, including kid’s play areas, a quieter spot for those who want to relax with a coffee, and long communal tables. In addition to their signature furniture, most stores also contain the Ikea Swedish Food Market, where adventurous customers can take home their favorite foreign snacks. 

The company has already tested out pop-up restaurants in London, Oslo, and Paris.

For now, stand-alone restaurants are just a glimmer of an idea in the minds of Ikea executives. There’s no word on when or where Ikea might be opening such an establishment. But of Ikea did not decide to expand it’s empire, there’s no doubt a café that replicated the atmosphere of it’s furniture stores would be popular.  

“I firmly believe there is potential. I hope in a few years our customers will be saying, ‘Ikea is a great place to eat," said Michael La Cour, Ikea Food’s managing director "And, by the way, they also sell some furniture.”