When a grocery store was forced to close its signature salad bar to reduce the risk of spreading the coronavirus, some of its employees got creative and built an alcohol display in its wake.
"We had originally put out other fresh foods, but it didn't go over so well because everyone's been stressed out," said Rick Rodemacher, the store director of Dierbergs Markets' Manchester, Missouri location. "A group of the employees were talking and we thought we could make good use of the empty space and make people smile if we swapped out the salad bar for one that serves alcohol."
The display, which includes mini bottles and different kinds of craft beer as well as a sign with the "salad" in salad bar crossed out, worked. Rodemacher says customers are "getting a kick out of it" and have walked by smirking and telling employees it's a "good idea."
But what started as a joke meant to incite a laugh or two has turned into something of a local and national phenomenon. After other store managers discovered Rodemacher's idea, some of the state's other 24 Dierbergs locations have erected their own takes on the traditional salad bar, including tiki bars and cereal bars. Pictures and videos of these displays have gained traction online and Rodemacher was shocked to learn that the makeshift local grocery bar wound up on TikTok.
"At first we were worried that it wouldn't come across the right way, but it's been really well received," said Rodemacher. "The sales are not nearly what the salad bar sales were, but bringing a smile to people's face is worth it."