LaManna New Kind Of Supermarket
LaManna is a superb shopping experience in the old TAA building in Essendon Fields. LaManna is unique and soars when it comes to customer service, quality, choice and a new kind of supermarket. It feels, sounds and smells like a market rather than the traditional supermarket. LaManna sets itself apart from duopoly supermarkets in so many ways. It's inspiring.
Often I've found myself in a typical supermarket and felt let down. There's really only a handful of things I enjoy buying in most supermarkets. I find supermarkets incredibly boring and the choices lacklustre. I eat gourmet meals pretty much every day but if I visit a supermarket there are few gourmet choices. On the other hand LaManna is brimming with imaginative selections - come here for your home made cannoli, goat chorizo and quail.
We had a amazing day visiting LaManna, getting a tour from the family (thanks Maria and Patrick, Vince, Linda and Tanya), had some lunch in the cafe (thanks LaManna) and then did some shopping. The hospitality we received from the remarkable LaManna family was first class - yet anyone who comes here to shop receives first class service.
We met Vince LaManna who founded the current LaManna business and his son Patrick (above) is taking the business into the next generation. With a massive space of 7,500 square metres (largest supermarket in Australia), 250 workers, 15 butchers and 35,000 products - LaManna is no small operation.
LaManna has the nice touches like this dude who freshly squeezes juices for the containers to take home, right in front of you. Great theatre but also super fresh quality fruit is superior by a mile. All 100% Australian!
The breads are also a class selection and I recognised legendary local brand Noisette.
LaManna delights customers with a huge meat section with the largest selection of gourmet sausages I've ever seen. Quality cuts of steak and international cuts feature. The butchers here are "can do" people and accomodate customer requests.
LaManna stocks quality fresh Aussie fruit and vegetables (above) and the difference between this selection and other supermarkets is significant. We took some fruit home and the kids noticed the difference straight away.
LaManna has a brilliant cake section including customised cakes for special occasions. Check out the cannoli.
This guy is a legend, making authentic La Piada's (Italian sandwich) with fresh fillings. You can purchase the Italian flat bread and make your own. He's a character and engages the customers. Other food demonstrations are compelling, especially with gourmet produce, notably the fish demonstrations. Seafood in general is a winner here, with LaManna employing 4 fishmongers!
The cafe run by Tanya LaManna is a huge hit! LaManna have had to expand the cafe several times to cope with demand. Prices are reasonable and quality is excellent. On a Saturday the supermarket and cafe were packed.
Controversially, we were told a well known supermarket planted a sign board in LaManna car park advertising that it had just opened a cafe nearby. Obviously LaManna are making their mark! The story went viral on social media and the sign was quickly removed.
Patrick told me there are many regulars who grace the supermarket and cafe daily. This cafe is the sort of space where you would want to catch up with friends or chill before or after (maybe during) shopping. Quality coffee is important and thankfully it hit the mark.
LaManna has some top notch breakfast options and the Smashed Avocado and mushroom on toast with eggs option is a winner.
Check out the fresh piada below...
Smoothies for the kids were a huge hit!
LaManna are down with the Quinoa revolution with this Quinoa porridge with berries. In fact LaManna are providing customers with a ton of gluten free and organic products.
Check out these moorish Eggplant chips...
I remember returning from America a few years ago and wondering why Aussie supermarkets don't have more interesting pre-made ready to go meals. I understand labour costs have a lot to do with it. But LaManna has engaged 4 chefs and 15 cooks to put together some attractive meals.
LaManna is stocked with a bevvy of premade meals, from fruit salad above to pizzas, pastas, arancini's, Japanese noodles and many many other options. Ready to go is the name of the game.
And yay, they won't sell frozen pizzas! Only fresh and ready to go... Why do we buy frozen pizzas anyway - just get a fresh one and freeze it if you have to...
Another strength of LaManna is the range of locally sourced products. We grabbed ourselves some of this milk from Fitzroy. LaManna supports local dairies!
LaManna stocks unique products you can find hard to get anywhere. Check out the above Mini Gelato cones and the Unsalted Butter below from Tasmania. Of course there are also core lines. Check out the signage in the aisles comparing prices with other well known supermarkets.
We left commenting that nothing seemed too hard for these guys. The staff looked like they wanted to be there. There's a family feel that pervades the whole shopping experience. Seniors love it and get 5% discount 3 days a week.
The LaManna family has been an epic part of the aussie food scene for years. The LaManna website gives us some of the family history -
"In 1953, our Founder, Pasquale (Pat) LaManna opened his first fruit store in West Preston, Victoria. His reputation for reliable service and commitment to quality quickly spread from one gossiping neighbour to the next. In true country fashion, Pat started to make personal deliveries on his way home from the shop to customers who would not settle for anything less than Pat's quality produce.
Before long, Pat had opened shops in all the major shopping centres in Melbourne and became the pioneer of home deliveries. In the 1970's, Pat was joined by his sons Greg and Vince. Together, they ventured into wholesale Bananas and became the largest Banana wholesaler in Australia with stores and warehouses across Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth.
2010 marks a new beginning for the LaManna name as we open LaManna Direct. Vince LaManna together with his son Patrick, now embark on a new journey. This third generation Australian-owned family business will continue to provide the public with the best available 100% Australian Grown fruit and vegetables and a new supermarket experience. To top it off, we are turning back the clock with the introduction of LaManna Direct, bringing back good old-fashioned customer service!"
While there we noticed Bill Shorten and Sam Newman were both doing some shopping. Then again everyone here is made to feel like a celebrity. Free parking is a bonus (we were there for 4 hours). LaManna is a rewarding shopping experience for Melbournians and at only 3 years old, a remarkable story.