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

Wegmans opening hot food

Shoshy Ciment/Business Insider

The hot food section at Wegmans was impressive.

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

Both grocery stores are located 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:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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.

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

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

... to side dishes and salads.

... to side dishes and salads.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 that we would have expected from a grocery store.

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

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.

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.

Source: Wegmans

As we entered, a conveniently-located coffee station greeted us on our right.

As we entered, a conveniently-located coffee station greeted us on our right.

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

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

Plus some flashy signs let us know about some super cheap bananas.

Plus some flashy signs let us know about some super cheap bananas.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Like Publix, Wegmans had a tank for live lobsters.

Like Publix, Wegmans had a tank for live lobsters.

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

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

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

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

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

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

There were also separate counters to order pizza and burgers ...

There were also separate counters to order pizza and burgers ...

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

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

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

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

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.

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.

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

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

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

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

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.

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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