Standard Market is changing the game in the grocery store business. Today, I attended their soft-opening in Westmont, Illinois; the first location in the Chicagoland area with plans to open it’s second location in Naperville, Illinois sometime next year.

I expected to walk into a “specialty” store type – like a smaller Whole Foods Market, with froo-froo this and froo-froo that.

Upon driving up to Standard Market, I was immediately impressed with the facade of the store. It was very clean and white, almost minimalistic. Walking in, the minimalist design smacked me in the face again, but not in a bad way. As consumers, we are so used to being bombarded every time we walk into a grocery store with the over stimulation of marketing.  It was really refreshing to let the beauty of the food and architecture entice you. A pretty good marketing strategy, if you ask me.

After walking around a bit and trying to take it all in, I noticed the real presentation and beauty comes from the food itself. Of course, there’s an art to displaying food to entice buyers, but with that, Standard Market is really trying to let the great products shine on their own.

One particular thing that caught me eye was a refrigeration case full of freshly squeezed orange juice and carrot juice for only $3.99. But it wasn’t the price that got me, it was that by “freshly squeezed”, I mean, behind the counter, people are squeezing and juicing fruits and vegetables!

Another reason to visit Standard Market is to eat at Standard Grill. With big bold red signage, the Standard Grill is a definite upgrade to the standard eats at the grocery store. It’s a mix of full-service and fast-casual restaurants combined. You order your food at the counter, then it is brought to you by food runners. The difference is the scratch made menu with a real kitchen with real chefs cooking up your order.

Walking towards the back of the store I noticed the alcohol area. From afar it looked like a very well put together wine and beer pick up area of the store. But, I was pleasantly surprised and actually pretty excited to see that there was a WINE BAR in the back of the market! Yes, a wine bar serving about 25 wines by-the-glass as well  as about 6 beers on tap. Now, that is what I’m talking about!!!!!!!!

The wine bar is surrounded by cheeses and other charcutterrie items, and even boasts a cheese room that’s set at the proper temperature and humidity to allow the cheese to be stored correctly.

Walking around this place and talking to the workers and managers, I could feel the pride of everyone involved in this project. They were all so proud to deliver such a high quality products and overall experience to their new customers. With all their elements combined, Standard Market has definitely set a new “standard” in the everyday grocery-shopping experience.

All in all, I feel that Standard Market is all about showcasing great food at its best and highest quality. They are trying to elevate the grocery store experience and bring people back and showing them what great food should be.

Bringing in interactive elements like a wine bar and restaurant is not only a beautiful marketing strategy, but a great way to get people engaged in food beyond just typical consumption. It gets consumers to really think about their food, and use their senses.

As a person who’s very passionate about food and the experience that it brings, I couldn’t help but want to be a part of this amazing thing they have created. I instantly remembered my days opening new restaurant locations and the high I got from being able to create something out of nothing. The feeling that you have done something that not many people can, or know how. The feeling that you are contributing in someone’s great and happy experience, even for just an hour, two if you’re lucky.

It made me so happy that there are people out there who care about food so much so that they are taking risks to do new things and innovate something that we’ve only done a certain way for so long.

My only regret was not being able to talk to one of the founders. I stood around trying to get his attention, but he had no clue who I was and was so busy entertaining his guests. I’ll get you next time, Vince! :-)