We visited Wegmans and Publix to see which regional grocer is better, and the smaller chain was far superior

The hot-food section at Wegmans was impressive.

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The hot-food section at Wegmans was impressive.
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Shoshy Ciment/Business Insider

Wegmans and Publix are two regional grocers with a couple of the most devoted followings in retail.

Both grocery stores are in specific regions in the US. Publix has 1,237 stores in the Southeast, while Wegmans has just 101 stores in New England and the mid-Atlantic regions.

Perhaps it’s the localized distribution of the stores or the charming customer service that cultivates such strong customer followings. Both stores fill their shelves with their own in-house brands and have sizable hot-food sections and bakeries. Whatever the reason, both Publix and Wegmans, though technically underdogs in the grocery world, are fan favorites.

We visited both stores to see which regional grocer was better. Though the competition was tight, Wegmans, the smaller chain, won for a few crucial reasons, including in-store dining and bar options, as well as a superior store design.

Here’s what we saw:


First, we stopped by a Publix in Hollywood, Florida.

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A Publix liquor store was right next door to the main grocery store.

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Shoshy Ciment/Business Insider

Strangely, the checkout stations were very close to the entrance. We had to veer to our right to get into the main area of the store.

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Shoshy Ciment/Business Insider

As we entered, we stopped by a small table with grapes that we could sample.

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Shoshy Ciment/Business Insider

We noticed a lot of Florida pride throughout the store, specifically related to the Miami Dolphins football team.

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Shoshy Ciment/Business Insider

Next, we headed to the section devoted to the Publix bakery, which had a nice variety of packaged and fresh goods.

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Shoshy Ciment/Business Insider

A sign let us know that Publix bakes from scratch daily. The cake counter here was especially appealing, and there was a custom-cake option as well.

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There was also a large takeout section of hot food that smelled delicious. There was everything from fried chicken tenders …

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… to side dishes and salads.

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Shoshy Ciment/Business Insider

There were also large meat and cheese counters and a soup bar.

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Shoshy Ciment/Business Insider

Closer to the checkout area, we found a small dining enclave with tables and chairs for people to eat their hot meals.

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Shoshy Ciment/Business Insider

Near the bakery section, we found a few stations devoted to event planning and recipe help via Publix Aprons.

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Shoshy Ciment/Business Insider

Moving along, we found a massive collection of wine, which was separate from the Publix liquor store next door.

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Shoshy Ciment/Business Insider

There were a bunch of aisles in the store with clear signs that let us know where we could find different items.

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Shoshy Ciment/Business Insider

We were surprised by how many Publix-brand items we found on the shelves.

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But there were also a lot of name-brand products available.

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Shoshy Ciment/Business Insider

The produce section was standard and featured a variety of organic options.

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Shoshy Ciment/Business Insider

There was also a beautiful floral stand with bouquets of blossoming flowers.

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Shoshy Ciment/Business Insider

This Publix seemed to have a lot of add-ons — like this pharmacy — that made the experience slightly more elevated than that of a regular grocery store.

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And in the seafood section, there was a tank with live lobsters.

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Shoshy Ciment/Business Insider

Checking out was a breeze, as many lanes were open and the employees were friendly.

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Shoshy Ciment/Business Insider

Overall, the experience of shopping at Publix was better than at a traditional grocery store. We left feeling satisfied with the experience.

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Shoshy Ciment/Business Insider

Next, we headed to a Wegmans in Brooklyn, New York, which opened in October.

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Shoshy Ciment/Business Insider

Read more: Meet the Wegmans fans who waited for hours in the rain to be the first shoppers at the grand opening of the cult-favorite grocer’s new store in Brooklyn


Everything about the store immediately felt different than Publix. The warm lighting made for a much cozier environment than we would have expected from a grocery store.

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Plus, there was a tremendous amount of detail in the architectural design of the store, which was made to look like an open-air European market.

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Shoshy Ciment/Business Insider

Source: Wegmans


As we entered, a convenient coffee station greeted us on our right.

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Shoshy Ciment/Business Insider

But we continued straight ahead and found a large produce section with a great variety of organic and nonorganic options.

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Shoshy Ciment/Business Insider

Plus some flashy signs let us know about some supercheap bananas.

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Shoshy Ciment/Business Insider

In the aisles, we found a whole bunch of Wegmans-brand items.

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Shoshy Ciment/Business Insider

We even found a place to sample some Wegmans-brand organic kombucha.

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Shoshy Ciment/Business Insider

There were also some dispensers full of different sweets in the middle of an aisle, which was unusual.

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Shoshy Ciment/Business Insider

As we continued through the store, it was clear that Wegmans excelled at facilitating an experience between customers and their food.

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Like Publix, Wegmans had a tank for live lobsters.

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When we visited, the lobster tank was empty.
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Shoshy Ciment/Business Insider

We could also watch Parmigiano-Reggiano get sliced right before our eyes at a cheese station.

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Shoshy Ciment/Business Insider

When it came to hot food and takeout offerings, Publix could not compare with what we found at Wegmans.

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There were sections for all types of cuisine, including Mediterranean and Asian.

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Shoshy Ciment/Business Insider

There were also separate counters to order pizza and burgers …

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… as well as a large number of ready-made sushi options.

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Shoshy Ciment/Business Insider

The bakery boasted a mouth-watering display of cakes and pastries.

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Shoshy Ciment/Business Insider

And there was also an upstairs dining area — which included a bar during certain hours — that was way more appealing than the one at Publix.

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Shoshy Ciment/Business Insider

All throughout the store, Wegmans kept surprising us with charming displays of food.

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Shoshy Ciment/Business Insider

We also found a flower section that rivaled the one at Publix.

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Shoshy Ciment/Business Insider

As we headed out, it was clear that Wegmans was the superior grocery store, thanks to its massive hot-food and dining options, as well as its unique store design.

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Shoshy Ciment/Business Insider