Fresh Look

Ozark Natural Foods deli gets makeover, expands offerings

Posted: March 3, 2013 at 6 a.m.

A La Carte

Under construction since Jan. 7, the deli at Ozark Natural Foods recently reopened with a full-service pastry case, espresso machine and LCD menu screens, among other improvements. It also was renamed A la Carte.

The name is representative of the deli’s goal to provide customers with flexible options and the ability to select what works best for them, said marketing director Alexa McGriff. Customers can grab a muffin and coffee, select a few items from the grab-and-go case or place an order to pick up after they shop for groceries, she said.

New display cases for deli items, prepared dishes, packaged foods, pastries and more improve both appearance and functionality. The digital menu screens allow new items to be featured at a day’s notice, making it easier to optimize fresh, seasonal and local items. Whereas before many customers would pick up items from the grab-and-go section, then sit in the front cafe and eat in the store, more dine-in options are now available. The new set-up not only better showcases the food, but the potential use of less packaging increases sustainability.

Also, as part of the improvements, the produce department gained space for an ice cooler in which to display cut fruits and vegetables.

Although the official planning took a year, the concept had been brewing for nearly eight years in the mind of deli manager Rachel McDonald.

“Since I started here as a sandwich person, I brainstormed ways to be more efficient and use more local and seasonal ingredients,” she said.

Staff collaboration and customer feedback helped shape the end result, McDonald said.

One noticeable improvement is increased interaction of the staff with customers. Previously, preparation counters were against the back wall so that employees had to turn away from the customer while preparing their order. Employees now face the customers.

The coffee station has expanded to include a hand-tamped espresso machine, and local firm Onyx Coffee Lab provides a custom blend specific to Ozark Natural Foods. Additionally, fresh baked goods have expanded to include exotic breads, such as baguette, ciabatta and bole loaf.

Popular items remain available, including the hand-tossed pizzas made with organic whole-wheat flour and made-from-scratch sauce. Pizza is available by the slice, whole pies as dine-in or take out, and with gluten-free crust.

Plated salads and made-to-order sandwiches, paninis and wraps offer a plethora of fresh, local and organic ingredients.

The hot bar offers a weekly rotation of items available for $7.99 per pound. A limited amount of each is made daily, so items listed are based upon availability.

• Monday: Chicken cacciatore, tofu parmesan, pasta and marinara, sauteed vegetables, garlic bread

• Tuesday: Falafel, lemon-herb grilled chicken, Briami vegetables, pita, tzatziki

• Wednesday: Chicken fajitas, seitan fajitas, refried beans, Spanish rice, tortillas

• Thursday: Chicken Tikka Marsala, spinach lentil dahl, brown rice, naan bread, Indian greens

• Friday: Orange-glazed chicken, vegan pad Thai, garlic green beans, sesame glazed carrots

• Saturday: Veggie frittata with cheese, fried potatoes with green onion, buttermilk biscuits, sausage or cream gravy

• Sunday: Indian baked chicken, vegetable curry, samosas, Indian basmati rice

Catering items include freshly prepared sides, entrees and desserts. Selections include Salmon Wellington, Thai beef salad, baked chicken, twice-baked potatoes, falafel tray, meat-and-cheese tray, cheesecake, baklava, tiramisu and more.

More information is available online at ozarknaturalfoods.com/departments/alacarte or by calling (479) 521-7558.

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