Tuesday, May 18, 2010

There's a New Whole Foods in Town

Last night I was invited to the sneak peek Bloggers Tour of the new Whole Foods in Friendship Heights. The store, located around the corner from the Friendship Heights metro stop in the Shops at Wisconsin Place, officially opens at 10 am with a bread breaking ceremony. I won't get into great detail about everything I saw, but there are a few things I'd like to highlight:

This place is ginormous! The ceilings are high, the aisles are wide, and the departments are huge. When you visit the store you will not feel like you are getting jipped by the grocery gods, like I normally do when shopping at the other grocery stores in the city (although technically the store is located in Montgomery County).

When walking into the store from the street level you are immediately met with a coffee bar. Besides the obvious drink selections, the bar also offers breakfast sandwiches, an oatmeal and fresh fruit topping bar, gelato, and sorbet. The coffee bar opens at 6 AM. (I forgot to grab a picture...I was fumbling with my umbrella.)

One of many cool features...a trail mix bar! You can make any combination of nuts, seeds, dried fruits, and chocolates for $4.99/lb.

The Global Animal Partnership is working with Whole Foods to rate all meat products sold at the store. The rating scale (1, 2, 3, 4, or 5) lets customers in on the welfare practices of farmers and the well-being of the animals. You will see the rating on the pricing sign for each product.

A similar kind of rating system is also available in the Seafood department, with the ultimate goal of only selling sustainable seafood in their stores. The color coded system identifies the sustainability status of all wild caught seafood. Other nice features of the seafood department...free marinade with purchase, and free skinning, de-boning, and cutting. Our tour guide mentioned that she has all her fish cut into 4 oz. servings so that she can better control portion size and not waste any food!

My personal favorite and the main reason I will trek up to FH.....fresh cut pasta to order (and sauces) by Severino Pasta:

The prepared foods section offers multiple options (in addition to the salad and hot food bars) including pizza, burgers, hot dogs, and sandwiches. The place is going to be a hoppin' lunch spot.

Another great feature is the value packaging program for the salad and hot food bar. In addition to the traditional $7.99/lb boxes, a portion controlled slightly smaller takeout container is available for a flat fee of $7.99. The only caveat is that your lid must close completely!

The bakery offers gourmet cupcakes for $1.99 each! I didn't get to try one last night, but they looked delicious and should give the many cupcakeries in DC some stiff competition.

The candy available at the candy bar contains no artificial colors or flavors. The jelly beans are delicious!

Other cool things I did not get pictures of.....

Bulk salts, pour your own honey (with bear containers!), grind your own nut butter, Gatorade and G2 Natural (a Whole Foods exclusive product), three frozen food cases of gluten free products, and the NYC style checkout lines.

Now onto the cons. Because the store is located in Montgomery County and there are weird alcohol rules, they cannot sell beer or wine. My main gripe, however, is that this will be one of three Whole Foods locations in the Upper Northwest/Bethesda area. As a Capitol Hill resident that has to drive to the P St. location or ride the red line to get to a Whole Foods, this is especially annoying.

Throughout the tour I obviously learned a lot about the Whole Foods philosophy and the vast array of features and products in the store, but I also learned a little bit about myself. I have been quite apprehensive about jumping on the organic and natural foods product bandwagon for a variety of reasons, but am now wanting to embrace this kind of lifestyle. Yes, I realize that the point of the tour is essentially to sell the Whole Foods store and their products. Clearly I am a marketer's dream. Oh well...at least this stuff is good for me!

Disclaimer: I was given food and a goodie bag for attending the Bloggers Tour.


  1. As I was reading this, my thought process was:

    ooh... gelato!
    OOH... trail mix bar!!
    OMG... fresh cut pasta!!!

    Too bad Friendship Heights is too far out of the way for me to actually make a trip out there. I wonder if they'll bring any of those things to existing Whole Foods?

  2. Love my Whole Foods. If only it wasn't soooo busy all the time!

  3. I LOVE Whole Foods... however I don't think Friendship Heights is close enough for me to drive to. Booooo.

  4. Hm, is it nicer than the downtown silver spring one? I always feel like that store is crowded and you can't get two carts down the aisle at once in some of the areas. The produce section in SS is somewhat meager at times, but this one looks absolutely fabulous. I might need to try it out!

  5. We are getting a Whole Foods closer to us and we are super excited!!! It looks like you had a fun time!

  6. I agree! It's great to have a new Whole Foods, but I too live on the Hill, and it would be even better to have a store closer to us! I think this is actually the fourth in NW, isn't it (I know, it's technically not NW . . . )? The Arlington store is too small and too crowded to be a serious option. But I'm excited to get up to Friendship Heights to check it out!

  7. i wish there was a whole foods near me!!!

  8. Oh, I'm so jealous that you got to go to an early opening! I probably will never make it out this far; I don't have a car & Friendship Heights is just too darn far for me. But... but... I want a make-your-own-trailmix bar!

  9. Oh swoon. I sure do miss Whole Foods. Is it weird that the things i miss most now that I'm living in a small town are ... Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, and Nordstrom????