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Moncton’s Dolma Food Competes With Large Companies With Online Grocery And Meal Services

Joe McGraw, a butcher at Dolma Food. Image: Submitted

MONCTON – Dolma Food is bringing its grocery store and deli offerings online, with delivery services also on the horizon.

Marketing manager Jon Stephenson was hired in February to help implement the offerings. He said the move keeps the local market on the heels of larger competitors.

“Atlantic Superstore is already doing [online offerings], Sobeys is looking to get into it. It’s getting bigger worldwide,” he said. “If we can get ahead of the curve and hop in and be front-runners in our area, it’ll put us on the map in terms of making sure we keep a hold on the grocery situation here.”

But the main reason for the online venture is to get more people interested in Dolma’s offerings, he said. An online catalogue can introduce them to the market’s products.

“[People] might not be ordering something online from the get-go, but at least they’ll be able to go online to see what we have, what the prices are, where the stuff is from. And get their foot in the door but through an online platform,” he said.

Dolma Food has a grocery store located on the corner of Bonaccord and St. George streets.The original grocery store and deli on St. George St. was destroyed by fire in 2016, and the new location opened last year.

That building now also houses 2nd Floor at Dolma, a restaurant with a rooftop patio. Across the street is Dolma Cafe, which was opened to keep the brand alive after the fire, as owner Hossein Barar rebuilt the business.

Dolma Food has a smaller grocery store and deli in Dieppe, as well. The online offerings will give the Dieppe store, which only has around 50 per cent of the inventory, the same capacity as the Moncton store.

“We don’t want to bring all the inventory there, but if people can order everything we have online and have [the Dieppe store] as a pick-up location, it would bring Dieppe to the same level as Moncton,” Stephenson said.

Dolma Food sells produce from local farmers and producers, and gives back to the community, Stephenson said. Its location on St. George St. doesn’t only serve as a store and restaurant, but also a place of gathering through the various events it hosts, he added.

“If we can get people interested in that and showcase the things we have to offer that are from this area, I think that will be the biggest advantage to us,” Stephenson said.

By the end of this week, customers will be able to order their groceries and pay for them through Dolma’s website before midnight, and then pick them up the next day after 4 pm. They will be stored in temperature-controlled bags to maintain their freshness.

The pick-up service is free and there is no minimum order. But to have groceries delivered, a service Dolma Food aims to launch in September, there will be a minimum order amount and a fee of $7.

The online grocery services will help create a database that can suggest healthy recipes and food items based on a customer’s budget.

“Some people may not know that if they buy a whole chicken they can make many meals out of it,” he said. “We want to give people the opportunity to learn and to have that idea base so when they come in and do groceries, they’re not wasting food.”

Later this month, customers will also be able to order meals from a weekly-set menu and a few staples, and pick them up on Mondays and Thursdays.

We saw that there’s a need, an opportunity, to help people that are maybe very busy, but are health conscious or are trying to make the steps towards eating better things instead of always eating take-out for their lunches,” Stephenson said.

The meals are prepared in-house using ingredients from the grocery store. They include sushi and other dishes available at the store’s deli.

Stephenson said the new services won’t affect the restaurant at the Moncton location. But if the online offerings pick up, Dolma Food might have to hire more people.

“We’re projecting a certain amount of orders that we can fulfill with the staff that we already have here and if we go over that, we’ll need to hire,” he said.