POINT OF SALE KAVITA KUMAR

Target tests healthier snacks in checkout lanes

Target is ditching the junk food (or at least some of it) in the checkout lane at 30 stores this fall.

The test, set to begin in October, is part of the retailer's new laser focus on offering better-for-you, healthier items and is part of a broader companywide health kick.

So soda, chips and candy bars in the checkout lane will be few in those test stores. They will be replaced with things like Kind bars and nuts from Target's private-label brand Simply Balanced.

"We feel like we need to make the healthy option the default option," Christina Hennington, Target's senior vice president of merchandising, told reporters on Tuesday during the retailer's fall national meeting.

But she added that the company doesn't want to be "preachy" about it, so her division is curious to see how shoppers respond.

"We are testing the envelope to see how far we can push it without annoying our guests," she said.

It's something that Target leadership thinks will resonate with its core shopper for whom health and wellness is a top priority. Target recently changed the assortment in its own cafeteria to add more healthy options, and employees responded well to it, she said.

The healthier check lanes will be tested in some Minneapolis, Dallas and Denver stores.

Of course, Hennington didn't shy away from the fact that there's a big business opportunity behind some of these changes, too.

THE MILL MIKE HUGHLETT

Rusty Taco gets name change before expansion

Rusty Taco will be rechristened "R Taco" as it tries to expand nationally.

The chain, majority-owned by Buffalo Wild Wings Inc., has three of its nine restaurants in the Twin Cities and is based in Dallas.

"As we grow the business and expand beyond its Dallas roots, we wanted to ensure the concept name had broader appeal while still linking to the brand's heritage," said Steve Dunn, Rusty Taco's CEO and co-founder, in a statement.

Rusty Taco is named after co-founder Rusty Fenton. The new name aims to provide a link to Rusty himself, while making "a phonetic play" on the letter "R" that sounds like "our," which "is friendly and welcoming, like the spirit of the brand," Dunn said.

Last year, Golden Valley-based Buffalo Wild Wings bought a majority stake in Rusty Taco, part of the chain's effort to diversify beyond its sports-themed restaurants. It was a small deal for Wild Wings, but one fitting into the company's search for niche chains with big potential.

Rusty Taco was founded in 2010 and has outlets in Minneapolis, St. Paul and Maple Grove. It also has a presence in Denver.