Ikea Is Planning To Open Stand-Alone Restaurants

Ikea holds a special place in many people's hearts; and if your childhood was anything like mine, the Swedish superstore with the small Scandinavian menu actually played a big role in your life growing up.

I remember watching actors romp around in the fake Ikea rooms on screen, and copying them myself when my parents dragged me to accompany them as they browsed and shopped for new furniture and home accessories.

When I got my first apartment, Ikea offered some extremely affordable pieces, and I remember painstakingly trying to assemble my very first desk chair purchased from them.

To me, Ikea was mainly about the furniture -- but as Gerd Diewald, the man who runs Ikea's food operations in the U.S., told Fast Company:

"We’ve always called the meatballs ‘the best sofa-seller'... Because it’s hard to do business with hungry customers. When you feed them, they stay longer, they can talk about their [potential] purchases, and they make a decision without leaving the store. That was the thinking right at the beginning."

And it's that kind of reasoning that has prompted Ikea to consider expanding its food division into stand-alone cafes in city centers. After all, Ikea's food has totally blown up in popularity over the past several years, and now the company is known just as much for its Swedish meatballs as it is for its hard-to-assemble but cute and affordable furniture pieces.

Ikea isn't just blindly promoting its food more heavily now, however; it is responding to its customers, and implementing buyer's voiced desires for healthy menu options. And, it's just plain affordable. Fast Company suggests that you could feed a family of four for $20 or less at Ikea, which is quite a feat; I can hardly feed myself in New York City for that price.

"It’s an experience just going there, and that’s what people are looking for in a restaurant meal these days," Bonnie Riggs, a restaurant-industry analyst at NPD Group said to Fast Company. "But more than that, what you get for your money is far superior to many other family-dining restaurants."

What do you think of Ikea's potential restaurant expansion? Would you be interested in dining at an Ikea restaurant?