It’s actually happening. After months of planning, speculation, and anticipation, the new Whole Foods in Mid City will open its doors to customers. Before the grand opening, which happens Tuesday morning at 9 AM (there’s also free coffee and pastries at 7:45 AM and a bread breaking ceremony at 8:15 AM), NolaVie got a chance to take a sneak peak at the store as work crews and team members bustled around the grocery mecca, preparing for Tuesday.
To state the obvious, Whole Foods Broad Street is inherently wonderful since it will likely open up some breathing space at the Arabella store, which often feels more chaotic and crowded than Bourbon Street during Mardi Gras. But this isn’t the store’s only selling point. The market will feature a handful of unique features that will likely compel you to do much of your shopping there. Eight reasons you’ll love the new Whole Foods:
1. It’s adorned with locally-inspired art:
Forget about “canned foods” and “cleaning supplies”; the aisles are each named after a different neighboring street of the store.
The wall that wraps around the dairy case will feature a Whole Foods history in New Orleans timeline, designed by a local artist.The timeline will trace WFM’s Nola roots, beginning with the birth of Whole Food Company in the 1970s, up through the Broad Street opening.
One wall displays an installation made of graffitied metal plates that were a part of the building prior to the renovation.
It has an Art-o-mat machine. The restored cigarette machine will be stocked with tiny pieces of locally produced art that shoppers can purchase for a donation of $5, which will benefit the Whole Planet foundation.
2.There are more in-store dining options, including:
A cafe. Whole Foods Broad Street has teamed up with Liberty’s Kitchen to bring customers a sit-down cafe located in the foyer. Unfortunately, the cafe won’t be set to launch on Tuesday, but it should be ready by spring.
And a cooking school. In partnership with the Goldring Center for Culinary Medicine at Tulane, the new WFM will house cooking school, located next to Liberty’s Kitchen, focused on healthy cooking. The culinary program will also not be open on Tuesday; it is set to open some time in 2014.
3. The hot foods section will have a daily gumbo bar — another offering from the folks at Liberty’s Kitchen.
4. The seafood counter will offer $2 seafood sliders.
5. There’s a banana tree in produce to maximize freshness and give shoppers the illusion of shopping in an outdoor marketplace.
6. District donuts in the bakery. I don’t think I need to explain why this one is important.
7. Express lanes. Plural. If you find yourself behind the shopper who rounds “tenish” up to 32, you’re no longer trapped.
8. Parking. Lots of it. In addition to the sizable lot (not to be confused with that black hole attached to the Arablella store where one frequently finds themselves driving round and round in a repeating circuit like some sort of awful Disney ride) there’s plenty of street parking, as well as a rooftop lot (which will be primarily used for WFM employees and residents).
Chelsea Lee is associate editor at NolaVie. Email comments to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.