Most people are aware, some more so than others, that beyond slinging inexpensive furniture and other household wares, Ikeas include a restaurant area where shoppers can fill up on a mix of meatballs and other occasionally random-feeling foods.
But as the Swedish company recently announced, the restaurant side of Ikea’s business is bigger than many realize. The brand’s U.S. president even stated, “Ikea food is becoming a core business.” According to the Washington Post, sales in the food division were up 8 percent in the most recent fiscal year, besting the store’s overall sales growth. Foot traffic was also described as “trending better” in the restaurants than in other areas.
And so to capitalize on that success, Ikea is overhauling their restaurants, hoping to make the spaces and menus even more consumer-friendly. The current large, open format is going to be broken down into three more specialized sections: a barstool area for quick meals, a family-friendly dining area and a coffee-house-style spot with couches and lounge chairs—all of which can be bought at Ikea, obviously.
Add to that the company’s latest food changes —from vegan and chicken versions of their Swedish meatballs to a switch to sustainable fish—and it appears Ikea is serious about making their restaurants a more serious eating destination.
But isn’t half the fun of eating at Ikea grabbing a meal without all the pomp and circumstance of feeling like you’re grabbing a meal? It’s like you found some top secret restaurant in the basement of an old communist office building (or at least an old democratic socialist office building). A meal at Ikea is like a set of their shelves: Its awesomeness is in how painfully functional it is.
But then again, maybe not. Maybe it would be nice to have a relaxing place to lounge on a couch before trudging off into the labyrinth of the main store. Winding your way through an Ikea can be quite the arduous four-hour journey. It might help to have somewhere to get mentally prepared other than the world’s largest parking lot.