IKEA Could Open Stand-Alone Restaurants

An executive says there's 'potential'

Anyone who has bought a Billy bookcase from IKEA (is there anyone who hasn't?) has likely also taken advantage of the Swedish store's bargain meals and snacks, like Swedish meatballs and vanilla soft-serve.

A pit stop at the restaurant can make a visit to the chaotic store bearable for guests. For the store's executives, it also sells furniture. "We've always called the meatballs 'the best sofa-seller,'" Gerd Diewald, who oversees IKEA's food programs in the U.S., tells Fast Company. "It's hard to do business with hungry customers. When you feed them, they stay longer, they can talk about" that sofa or bed and make a decision to buy then and there.

Executives, however, never saw the restaurants as more than that. "This might sound odd, but it's almost something we didn't notice," Michael La Cour, IKEA Food's managing director, adds.

That's starting to change. La Cour says stand-alone IKEA restaurants could dot cities in coming years. "I firmly believe there is potential. I hope in a few years our customers will be saying, IKEA is a great place to eat—and, by the way, they also sell some furniture.'"