Store Spotlight: Patel Brothers

Charlie Menchaca
Managing Editor
Charlie Menchaca profile picture

Patel Brothers is the largest Indian grocer in the U.S., with more than 50 stores in 19 states. Mafat and Tulsi Patel opened the first store on Devon Avenue in Chicago in 1974. From there, the brothers and their families gradually expanded nationwide in response to the growing Indian population across the U.S.

True to its tagline of “Celebrating our food … our culture,” the retailer carries a variety of Indian and Middle Eastern food products made internationally and locally. An assortment of national brands is also available. In-line, Patel stocks SKUs from the U.S. and international subsidiaries of global manufacturers. Examples include Unilever’s Hellmann’s mayonnaise sharing shelf space with Hindustan Unilever Limited’s Kissan jam.

To address the COVID-19 pandemic, Patel Brothers temporarily closed all of its locations from March 30-April 8 before reopening with limited hours and enhanced safety protocols.

The retailer makes clear on posters that a mask is required to enter the store. Disposable gloves are recommended and offered upon arrival near a hand sanitizer dispenser in the foyer.

  • Patel Brothers-branded posters and floor clings with social distancing guidelines are posted throughout the store. Some of the messaging asks shoppers to “Spread joy, not rumors” and contact the retailer directly with any questions or concerns. Another poster asked customers not to hoard and cautioned that purchase limits might be implemented on staple foods.
  • Behind the produce department is Patel’s Fresh Kitchen, offering Zabiha Halal meat and other food prepared to order.
  • Store locations were fairly light on freestanding displays before the pandemic. Previously spotted floorstands and a basket stand with free fruit near the exit were presumably removed to allow more space between shoppers. One example in the produce department was a dedicated floorstand for Tajin seasoning outfitted with bilingual side panels and a header plugging a #TajinMoments campaign.
  • Lower permanent shelves under the fresh produce displays are stocked with brands such as All Market’s Vita Coco and Domino Foods’ flagship.
  • The retailer employs digital price signs in its refrigerated section and also along the side of an aisle devoted to rice.
  • A majority of the packaged goods is comprised of store brands from Raja Foods, which started as Patel’s procurement division and grew into its own company. The main Patel Brothers brand is Swad, a Hindu word for “taste.” The retailer’s grocery carts also are branded Swad with the tagline “Best Taste in Town.”
  • At checkout, masked cashiers assist shoppers behind partitions. The displays here carry Frito-Lay snacks as well as candy from Ferrero, Mars and Mondelez International.