So I went to pick up my turkey at Tria Market in Homewood last week (delicious turkey, by the way, from Alabama's Bates Turkey Farm -- see previous post on "Turkey Time"), and was a bit taken aback by the construction of a restaurant-within-a-store that's happened since last time I was there.
The Tria Cafe serves breakfast, brunch and just a few weeks ago started serving brunch on Saturdays and Sundays (see menus here). The new restaurant area looks attractive, but it makes the rest of the store cramped; there's barely enough room for two carts to pass by in the produce section, and there is a serious bottleneck by the cheese counter, which is now the only way to get from that part of the store to the other. The wine section is a shadow of its former self.
The layout doesn't exactly encourage you to stop and linger in some areas, which is a shame, because Tria's cheese counter is my favorite -- not as large as, say, Whole Foods, but they really encourage sampling and have a lovely selection. And the meat counter is definitely the prettiest in town, with just a few chops or steaks cut from a piece of meat, attractively arranged on a black background, encouraging you to ask to have more cut just the way you like them, instead of having large amounts of pre-cut pieces of meat just drying out as I've seen at some stores. (Best veal parmesan we've made at home was with veal cutlets they pounded thin for us.) The new layout also made the coffee bar much less approachable, as it's now inside the restaurant where you have to seek it out, which is another shame because they make some excellent cappucinos there, with Organic Valley milk and Higher Ground coffee.
I'm hoping the new layout is a work in progress and they address some of these issues -- and that trying to be both restaurant and gourmet market doesn't prove to be too hard to juggle.