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This is yet another consequence of our high-speed, must rush, no-time-to-stop, flat-out living lifestyle. The number of people who cook proper meals seems to be going down in inverse proportion to the number who buy cookbooks (in Britain, cookery books), which makes one wonder what the people who buy them do with them. One of the newer solutions for people who want to eat but don’t have time to cook is this American invention. Essentially it’s a restaurant inside a supermarket, a natural enough progression from in-store bakeries and a subtly different take on the take-out (in Britain the take-away) food outlet. No longer do you go to the store just to buy the ingredients to cook with. Now you can buy the complete cooked meal, freshly prepared and ready to eat either in the supermarket, at your place of work, or to serve to the family at home. The name seems to have been created sometime around 1996 as an obvious blend of grocery and restaurant and remains a jargon term of the food business, almost entirely unknown to customers, though it has on occasion turned up in newspapers on both sides of the Atlantic.

Whether it’s a personal chef service, a supermarket offering prepared meals or a grocery store/restaurant hybrid (“grocerant”), the food offered by these alternatives to traditional fast-food fare is being gobbled up.

Entrepreneur Magazine, Dec. 1997

He cites the “grocerant” concept which is currently sweeping the US. This is shorthand for a supermarket grocery counter which is also a takeaway restaurant.

Independent on Sunday, Jan. 2000

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Copyright © Michael Quinion, 1996–. All rights reserved.
Page created 15 Jan. 2000

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The English language is forever changing. New words appear; old ones fall out of use or alter their meanings. World Wide Words tries to record at least a part of this shifting wordscape by featuring new words, word histories, words in the news, and the curiosities of native English speech.

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Last modified: 15 January 2000.