Southern California grocery chain Gelson’s is partnering with electric-vehicle charging station developer Rove Charging LLC to open convenience stores to provide food and beverage service at its new charging centers, the companies announced Thursday.
Rove will launch by building an initial six locations in Southern California beginning this year, with 20 charging centers planned by 2026.
ReCharge by Gelson’s, as the convenience offering is called, will sell a hybrid selection of prepared foods and grocery staples, including coffee service, poke bowls, sushi, wraps, salads and charcuterie plates, as well as snack foods, bread and single-serve and multi-pack cold beverages.
The offering is geared both toward Rove’s charging customers and other food consumers near the charging centers, Gelson’s said, adding that the deal is a first-of-its-kind retail brand partnership for the 27-unit grocer.
“We are thrilled to join in partnership with Rove to launch this innovative new concept, bringing fresh and better-for-you offerings for people on the go across Southern California,” Gelson’s President and CEO John Bagan said. “Our new ReCharge by Gelson’s locations will bring our premium food and beverage experience closer to many of our existing customers while also introducing us to an expanded audience.”
Gelson’s has been outfitting its company fleet with EVs and alternative fuel vehicles, Bagan said, noting that the partnership aligns with the grocer’s broader sustainability goals.
Rove’s charging centers will include more than 40 ultra-fast EV chargers, a lounge with restrooms and WiFi that’s open 24 hours a day, and eco-friendly car washes at some locations. Every center will also have parking spots for gas vehicles, “making it easy to pick up Gelson’s quality breakfast, lunch and dinner offerings to make delicious and healthful eating effort-free for busy consumers,” Gelson’s said.
Restaurants, convenience stores and other foodservice operators and retailers have seen the growing potential in providing refreshments at EV charging stations, where car owners typically spend 30 minutes or more plugged in and “fueling” up.
Quick-service restaurant chain Subway early this year said it planned to add EV chargers at select locations, the first stage of a multi-year undertaking to create Subway Oasis EV charging parks across the country. And c-store retailers such as Pilot and Flying J travel centers are working to add EV charging stations, giving a potential boost to their onsite restaurants. Select Cracker Barrel and TGI Friday’s restaurant locations also host EV charging stations.
Walmart, the country’s largest food retailer, announced in April that it plans to build a network of fast-charging EV stations at thousands of Walmart and Sam’s Club stores by 2030, building on the more than 1,300 charging stations currently available at more than 280 U.S. locations.
“With our chargers located on site with our Supercenters, Neighborhood Markets and Sam’s Clubs, we can offer customers and members the convenience of being able to pick up essentials for their families or grab a bite to eat while they charge,” Vishal Kapadia, senior vice president of energy transformation, said in a Walmart blog post.
Kroger, The Save Mart Co., and Meijer are among other grocery retailers adding EV charging stations.
Rove was founded in 2021, after receiving an initial investment from private-equity firm Newlight, with the goal of creating “a better EV charging experience,” according to its website.
“From day one, we aimed to offer our customers fresh food alongside a superior charging experience,” Rove CEO Nathan McDonnell said. “With ReCharge by Gelson’s at Rove’s centers, we are reimagining the public charging experience together, leaving EV drivers recharged in more ways than one.”
Encino, California-based Gelson’s, founded in 1951, is scheduled to open its 28th grocery store at the West Edge development in Los Angeles in October.
A version of this story first ran in CSP sister publication Winsight Grocery Business.
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