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Zellers restaurants are coming back — as food trucks


Hudson’s Bay Co. (HBC) said it’s launching a fleet of food trucks with dishes from the old Zellers Family Restaurant as part of its relaunch of the discount retailer this spring.

The company is polling Canadians about what restaurant meals they’d like to eat again on the Zellers Instagram page. The survey, released on Jan. 27, includes a list of 10 dishes, most of which were on the original menu. The top five dishes will become part of the menu on the food trucks, which will be situated at Zellers’ locations when they open across the country later this year.

“Although an in-store diner just isn’t possible in a 10,000 sq ft footprint, Zellers is mobilizing a fleet of food trucks to greet customers at its first locations opening this spring,” HBC said in a press release. “The retailer has heard loud and clear the call for the restaurant return!”

The 25 new Zellers locations across Canada will take up space inside of existing HBC department stores. The company is also launching an e-commerce site, serving customers who might be too far from the in-store shops.

 A Zellers diner back in the day.
A Zellers diner back in the day.

The nine dishes up for voting from the original Zellers Family Restaurant menu are the Big Z burger, fries and gravy, hot chicken sandwich, grilled cheese sandwich, onion rings, quesadilla, poutine, hot dog and chicken fingers. HBC is also adding a veggie burger to the voting list “for good measure.” Instagram users have one week to get their votes in, according to the press release.

“Following the initial stops at the store locations — and if customers embrace the comeback — the Zellers Diner on wheels will gear up to head out for its cross-Canada debut. Tour dates and locations to be shared at a later date,” HBC said.

HBC has remained tight-lipped on its motivations for bringing back Zellers, but the revival could be a play to boost revenues.

The 352-year-old company — which owns The Bay department store, luxury Saks Fifth Avenue and discount luxury retailer Saks Off 5th — has spent the past decade trying to cope with a shifting retail environment.

In March 2020, HBC’s owners took the company private so it could change direction without having to answer to shareholders amid declining sales, which were down 1.7 per cent in its final earnings release. Adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization had also fallen 32 per cent year over year.

To shore up sales, HBC has added a number of individual brands to its stores, such as Forever 21, Mango and Mountain Equipment Co. Ltd.

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