Costco vs. IKEA: The Battle of Retail Giant Food Courts

By: Ella Forsthoffer ’24

     When it comes to shopping for clothing, furnishings and groceries all in one trip, Costco and IKEA often stand out as popular destinations. Among the many reasons for their appeal, both retail giants feature in-store food courts that provide hungry shoppers with convenient and affordable dining options.

     The choice between Costco and IKEA food courts brings up a heated debate as both stores have distinctive menus and atmospheres that cater to their diverse clientele’s needs and preferences.

     In terms of menu offerings, Costco’s food court is known for its efficient service and high-quality food at a low cost.

     Their menu primarily consists of American staples such as hot dogs, pizza, sandwiches, salads and a variety of beverages. Costco also offers a selection of delicious desserts, such as their giant churros and ice cream sundaes.

     In contrast, IKEA’s food court offerings are geared towards providing shoppers with a taste of the retailer’s Swedish heritage. Many of the items found on the menu are Swedish in origin, such as their famous meatballs, which can be served with mashed potatoes, lingonberry jam and gravy.

     Additionally, they offer salmon and chicken plates, as well as an array of salads and sandwiches. Those who enjoy Scandinavian-inspired pastries will delight in indulging in their cinnamon rolls and delicious Princess torte.

     Unique to IKEA is their Swedish Food Market, a section where shoppers can purchase various Scandinavian food products and enjoy them at home. Items such as lingonberry jam, Swedish crispbread and frozen meatballs are just a few of the many choices available.

     In terms of pricing, both Costco and IKEA are renowned for their affordable meal options. Costco’s most famous offering is the $1.50 hot dog and soda combo, which has remained at the same price since its introduction in the 1980s. Most other items are priced under $5.

     Prices for individual items at IKEA typically range from $3 to $8, and discounted meal combos are available throughout the week.

     Another factor to consider when comparing Costco and IKEA food courts is the overall atmosphere and ambiance.

     Costco food courts are self-service with a simple menu and quick preparation times. While seating can sometimes be crowded, the service is quick and efficient, ensuring that customers can quickly grab a meal and continue with their shopping.

     Additionally, the food court is usually located near the store’s entrance or exit, making it easily accessible for shoppers. It is within their warehouse setting, featuring high ceilings, an industrial feel and considerable ambient noise from shoppers.

     IKEA’s food court, known as the IKEA Restaurant, on the other hand, offers customers a sit-down dining experience. They offer a wider variety of menu items, including healthy and vegetarian options and multiple dining options that cater to a broad range of customer preferences.

     Their food courts are designed with a Scandinavian aesthetic, prioritizing natural light, clean lines, and a more calming ambiance.

     In terms of service, Costco’s food court operates like a fast-food restaurant, with customers ordering their menu items at the counter and receiving them almost immediately.

     IKEA’s food court is more like a self-service cafeteria, where customers pick up trays and choose items from various stations before paying at the register. This approach can lead to longer lines and wait times during peak hours.

     Overall satisfaction of customers varies between the two food courts. Costco consistently receives high marks for its quick service, affordable prices, and large portion sizes, making it a popular option for families on a budget. Many customers also appreciate that Costco’s food court offers outdoor seating areas, allowing for a change of scenery while they enjoy their meals.

     On the other hand, IKEA’s food court focuses more on offering a unique dining experience, with its Swedish cuisine and comfortable atmosphere. While the wait times may be longer than Costco’s, many customers find that the distinctive menu options and ambiance make the experience worthwhile.

     Despite some minor differences, the choice between Costco and IKEA food courts ultimately depends on personal preference and the type of experience the shopper seeks amidst their day of retail therapy.

Send us your thoughts!