In the early days of the pandemic — with a pause on school, soccer practice and music lessons — moms, dads and kids gathered around their dining room tables to enjoy meals prepared from scratch. This opportunity to slow down is a silver lining to an otherwise challenging moment in time, says Tom Violante, Jr., co-owner and operator of Holiday Market, the full-service specialty supermarket in Royal Oak, and the newly expanded Holiday Market Select in Birmingham.
“Families are reclaiming the dinner table as the hub of the family. And, out of necessity, people have learned to appreciate cooking, too. That’s a good thing,” says Violante, who runs the family-owned Holiday Market locations with his sister and brother-in-law, Gina and Craig Mangold.
Violante says he hopes that time around the table, when families can relax and enjoy a healthy home-prepared meal together, will remain a strong fixture in our post-pandemic lives.
That nightly ritual — and the connection it brings — are worth the extra effort. Here, Violante offers some expert tips for making family meals a habit you can stick with.
The sheer volume of choice in the typical big-box grocery aisle can make shopping overwhelming. “When you’re staring down 40 different mustards and have to make that same type of decision hundreds of times during one shopping trip, that’s exhausting,” Violante says. That’s why Violante designed Holiday Market Select as a perfect-sized, small-footprint store. “People are so excited when they come to Holiday Market Select because they can do their full shop and have a great experience,” he says.
Through a process of hand-selecting only the best few brands of each item, Holiday Market Select offers fewer, better, choices for shoppers. “Sometimes new parents are cooking for a family for the first time and they wonder what is a good pot roast? How do I choose? They need help making the right selections, and that help is offered by our department managers across the board,” Violante says. The difference shows in the thoughtful choices on the shelves.
“Most of us have a traditional American go-to pasta brand. Our moms used it, so we use it. Pasta is pasta, right? At Select, if that brand is not there, we encourage customers to try another one, and what happens? They find out pasta is not pasta,” Violante explains. In this new pasta, customers can taste the passions of the family that made it better for taste, not for mass production. There’s a bite, a shape that’s better for sauce, a more enjoyable experience. “You didn’t know that Wednesday pasta day could be something to look forward to.”
Swap in pre-prepared
And, because pasta is only one part of the meal, Holiday Market Select makes it easy to build a nutritious, enjoyable experience with meatballs, made fresh by Holiday Market’s catering professionals, a new-to-you variety of jarred sauce and just the right parmesan. “You can have an amazing pasta experience and we have done the hard work for you,” Violante says. “When you put a meal together, every bite is a reflection of the work you did and what you want for your family. It’s impossible to make a mistake.”
Adopting a piecemeal approach makes swapping in different vegetables and starches — made by you or Holiday Market Select — an easy way to bring a meal together. “This is one of my favorite things about building a meal. Cooking a protein is the easiest thing, whether it’s steaks on the grill or chicken in the oven,” Violante says.
But where are the green beans and broccoli? “Our catering team prepares restaurant-quality foods daily, including three or four starches and several types of vegetables. We have premade salads and a chopped salad station. We help you make a delicious dinner, saved you time — and made you look good, too,” he says.
For those occasions you know your kids will want something different, Holiday Market Select saves the day. “As you are grabbing shrimp scampi for yourself and something vegetarian for your partner, you can get chicken fingers or mac and cheese — real mac and cheese — for your kids,” Violante says.
Be part of the community
Much like the original Holiday Market opened on a Royal Oak corner by Violante’s father in 1956, Holiday Market Select aims to serve the local Birmingham community with high-quality groceries and a neighborhood feel. “This is an experience we are longing for and that we think is missing right now. Some have never experienced it,” Violante says. “We want to slow the world down and recapture that appreciation of community through a local corner grocery store experience.”
Opened four years ago, Holiday Market Select recently expanded to 5,000 square feet, and is supported by the 60,000 square feet and 325 employees of the original Holiday Market in Royal Oak. It’s still run like a small family business, Violante says, and wants to be a neighborhood staple in Birmingham, too.
“We want to be an extension of your kitchen, an extension of your pantry and an extension of your refrigerator,” he says. “We want to be where you get your coffee in the morning and where you do your weekly shopping. We want to be part of your routine.”
Learn more about Holiday Market in Royal Oak and Holiday Market Select in Birmingham at holiday-market.com.