(KTLA) – For the past four months, there have been lines building up outside a Skechers store in Gardena, Calif., and it’s not just the shoes that are getting everyone’s attention.

The warehouse store, which was the second location the company opened decades ago, became home to a concession stand that offered cheap, uncomplicated but high-quality meals.

It seems the local business community, and even some well-known social media influencers, can’t get enough of it.

Skechers opened an elevated concession stand at its Gardena store and the venture became an overnight success. (blocks)

Called the Food Spot, the open-air restaurant is attached to the side of the unassuming department store in the busy shopping centre.

It has been described by many as a “Costco-style” concession stand that is a little tastier and somewhat more expensive, but does not require a membership to eat there.

It offers some of the affordable Costco classics you know and love, like beef hot dogs for $2.50, pepperoni pizza slices for $3, and premium fresh snacks and churros for $3, too.

But the menu veers in a more ambitious way, offering high-quality grab-and-go entrees that look like something you’d get from a dedicated specialty restaurant.

There’s a “Citrus Chili” grilled chicken sandwich served with ranch on a handcrafted bun, as well as a Double Smash burger and a Nashville hot chicken sandwich, each served with a slew of pickles and a Thousand Island-style “Spot Sauce.” Which seems to be a huge hit and can be purchased on its own for $1.

A double smash burger from Skechers Food Spot in Gardena, California on September 13, 2023. (KTLA)

A double smash burger from Skechers Food Spot in Gardena, California on September 13, 2023. (KTLA)

While shoes and burgers seem like an unlikely marriage, the Food Spot is actually something the company’s co-founder has been chomping at the bit to try.

“I always thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be fun to have a food franchise in a Gardena store?’” said Michael Greenberg, president and co-founder of Skechers. “It generates a tremendous amount of volume and has a lot of traffic.”

Greenberg is a self-described “foodie” who has been involved in the restaurant business for years, investing in a few restaurants and chains like Fresh Brothers Pizza and Rockin’ Brew.

The idea was something Greenberg had been thinking about for years, but the area the store was located in was never intended for food sales. So, in the years before the plan was realized, the Gardena outlet would often host food trucks to feed shoppers and help scratch Greenberg’s proverbial itch.

A Los Angeles chef has been named to Food & Wine’s Best New Chefs of 2023 list

But he eventually got tired AlmaWhen he saw his dream coming true, more than two years ago, he pushed his team to figure out how to rezone the plot of land and pave the way for what would eventually become the Food Spot.

“I think it surprised everyone,” Greenberg admitted. I think in the beginning, there were people who were confused, saying: What is Michael doing? And I can understand, you know, but that was my vision.

For the shoe company’s co-founder, Food Spot is a passion project, not one born out of necessity or to make a profit, but rather to enhance the shopping experience for Skechers customers. If families are spending their valuable time together shopping for shoes and clothes, it’s a good idea to feed them while they’re there.

“It was more about the overall experience and the atmosphere of being in that Skechers store,” Greenberg said.

Luxury department stores like Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus often have restaurants and cafes in their stores, so why shouldn’t Skechers?

The California city is gearing up for an annual celebration of all things Denmark

But if Food Spot is to succeed, the food has to be really good and meet the same standards that Greenberg applies to the brand’s products.

“First and foremost, the most important thing to me was the quality of the food. Because I’m all about the quality of the food, it has to be as good as the product we’re selling, whether you’re wearing our product or eating our product and chewing it,” Greenberg said with a laugh. “Okay, can we do this right?” Can I get the best fried chicken sandwich? Can I get the best Double Cheese Smashburger? “Will people drive here for the food and the experience?”

If food brings people in, they’re more likely to spend time at the shoe store, he said.

The food, like the shoes themselves, is simple and accessible, or “no frills” as others describe it. For Greenberg, the offerings at Food Spot reflect the company’s mentality of high quality at affordable prices.

This mentality seems to have caught the attention of consumers. The Food Spot serves more than 2,000 people each week, Greenberg said.

Food has captured the attention of food bloggers, reviewers and influencers, all of whom seem to be relatively impressed with what they eat.

So how did Skechers make Greenberg’s dream a reality?

Joe Fields is a senior manager of Skechers’ domestic retail operations, and he offered KTLA a tour of the facility. He usually oversees the company’s retail stores, but when Food Spot opened, he had to take a crash course in the restaurant business. He took Sysco classes and became ServSafe certified, and now the Food Spot is just a part of his daily life.

But the concession stand is not run by a group of shoe salesmen who play in the restaurant. It has a full staff of food industry veterans. The General Manager spent several years managing food and beverage services at Angel Stadium.

About 900 square feet of the store itself was demolished and renovated to accommodate the commercial kitchen, which looks as you’d expect with stovetop grills, deep fryers and a large industrial refrigerator. The only frozen item the café offers is French fries. Everything else is made to order.

Skechers Food Spot menu board in Gardena, California on September 13, 2023. The Costco comparisons are obvious, but reviewers say the food is higher quality.  (blocks)

A Skechers Food Spot menu board in Gardena, California on September 13, 2023. The Costco comparisons are obvious, but reviewers say the food is higher quality. (blocks)

The restaurant usually experiences a quick lunch around noon and dinner around 5pm. When it first opened in May, food wasn’t served until 11 a.m., but the crew quickly discovered the restaurant was missing much of the lunch period by not opening earlier. They now open at 10am to attract more of the brunch crowd and recently extended their closing time to 8pm for those looking for an easy evening meal.

One Wednesday around 2 p.m., right after lunch, Brian Ross and Steve Erck were finishing their meal at the lunch counter. While traveling for work and unaware of the restaurant’s overnight success, they saw the signs while driving and decided to stop for a quick bite in between sales calls.

They waited less than five minutes for their pizza and fries and spent less than $20 in the process. “There’s not much you can ask for,” Erck said.

They both agreed with the Costco comparison but it’s high.

“It’s not a place you’d take your wife or girlfriend to dinner, but if you’re looking for a quick meal, in and out, it’s the perfect place,” Erck said.

“Very comfortable,” Ross echoed.

Despite positive reviews and a franchise that satisfies Greenberg’s quality mandate, the company says the Food Spot is likely a one-off, with no likelihood of expansion.

Since its founding in 1992, Skechers has grown into the third-largest footwear company in the United States with hundreds of stores worldwide, but most of its locations are located in malls and other shopping centers, and much of the space is leased, instead. Of owned.

Not many locations have the size and infrastructure to support a full-fledged restaurant, but the Gardena store makes sense because it is an outlet with a large footprint and close to the home base.

In the meantime, Greenberg is thrilled to see his vision become a reality and continue serving the local community — the same community where Skechers established its roots more than 30 years ago.

“What’s better than returning customers? They’re coming back because they had a good experience, and that’s our overall philosophy in the way we do business and the way we produce and market our shoes,” Greenberg said. “The praise we receive, it’s like sugar on top. “This is music to our ears.”

For the latest news, weather, sports and live video, head to WREG.com.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: