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The Lakeland ledger reports that Publix Super Markets is testing a curbside carry out service for deli items at one of its Fort Myers, Florida, stores, allowing customers to phone in orders, park in designated spaces, and pay an employee who brings the order to them.

According to the story, Publix allocated several parking spaces near the entrance to the store for the experiment, and is using a video camera to monitor them. Just a week old, there are no plans at this time to expand the test.

The Ledger notes that this is just one in a series of innovations being taken by Publix as it looks to connect with shoppers in new ways. For example, after a series of building delays, “on Monday the company finally debuted its in-store Carrabba's Italian Market at a location in Sarasota. The 1,000-square-foot eatery features a wood-burning pizza oven and grill and offers a selection of items from the popular Italian chain. The ‘mini-restaurant’ does not offer table service, but … limited seating is available for customers to wait or eat.” The venture is said to be the “first of its kind for Publix and Carrabba's, which is part of Tampa-based Outback Steakhouse.”
KC's View:
Publix always has been good at trying new things and not being hemmed in by some of the limitations that sometimes afflict “big” companies.

My only question about the Carrabba's test is that I’m always leery about using other foodservice brands in the store. Perhaps Publix thought that the chain brought greater pizza expertise and credibility to the venture, but I’m never crazy about hyping other (competitive) brands.

But I’m willing to be open-minded. Let’s see how it plays out.