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General Mills Begins Food Delivery Business

March 23, 1990

GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. (AP) _ General Mills Inc. has begun an experimental business delivering casual foods such as chicken wings, roast chicken and sandwiches to customers ordering by telephone.

Called Bringer’s, the service is provided only to people who live in southwest Minneapolis and parts of suburban Edina, Richfield and Bloomington.

The Bringer’s venture fits the General Mills strategy of experimenting with concepts for several years before launching them nationally. The company recently opened a Chinese restaurant in Orlando, Fla., called China Coast, which industry analysts say eventually could parallel its successful Italian chain, Olive Garden.

General Mills also owns the Red Lobster restaurant chain and markets consumer food products, including Big G cereals and Betty Crocker bakery mixes.

The company said Bringer’s is strictly an exploratory venture and it has no plans for expansion now.

″But we would never be this far if we thought the only place we could be successful was in a pocket of the Twin Cities,″ said Craig Shulstad, a company spokesman.

Bringer’s is General Mills’ second try at finding a business strategy to serve dual-income families who don’t have the time or energy to cook at home or go to a restaurant. Its first attempt, the Order Inn, ended in 1988 after a year’s trial.

While Bringer’s is similar to the Order Inn, there are distinct differences that demonstrate what General Mills learned through its first effort.

Order Inn was designed to deliver restaurant-style food to people’s homes. The menu items were more expensive, including grilled salmon and prime rib, and they were delivered cold in refrigerated vans for reheating at home.

Bringer’s will supply food hot and its offerings are decidedly more plebeian, with prices to match.

″Everything we know says that’s where the American public is headed,″ said Gary Rodkin, president of Bringer’s and a vice president of General Mills. ″Casual dining and convenience seem to be two trends that are very apparent and we believe we have the right kind of menu to serve those needs.″

By late April, customers will be able to go to Bringer’s take-out store in the Centennial Lakes shopping center in Edina to pick up food to take home. The local phone number for the delivery service is 941-FOOD.

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