For the food market deprived—that would be anyone living in the area around 96th Street on the Upper West Side—yesterday was a big day as Whole Foods welcomed the neighborhood to an open house to preview the new store. While the food market won’t officially open until August 27—the liquor store is already operating—the market flung open its doors to introduce area residents to its layout and products.
Billed as a fundraiser for the Riverside Park Fund, the event was packed with young and old. Baby strollers were in abundance. So were lines for the copious free samples that were being dished out. There were crab cakes, chocolate, cookies, soup, and soda. Two cold soups, melon and carrot/ginger , by kosher maker Foremost Fresh, a New Jersey concern, were standouts.
Throughout the bi-level store, which is smaller than many others in the city, shelves were almost fully stocked with what we’ve come to expect from the organic and healthy foods purveyor. Lots of varieties of yogurt. A still-empty salad bar. Meat counters and fish counters. It was a bit strange, however, to be walking around a supermarket in which no one was pushing a shopping cart.
Many items were affixed with bright yellow sale stickers. Several people noted that despite its reputation for pricey fare, Whole Foods appeared to be competitive with other local food sellers.
In any event, happiness was in the air. Even among this famously liberal Upper West Side bunch, no one seemed too concerned about Whole Foods CEO John Mackey’s stand against the Obama Administrations push for health care reform.
“I’m thrilled” with the new market, said one middle aged man, who added that he was disgusted with existing neighborhood shopping options.
In a final gesture of welcome to the neighborhood, store personnel offered potted mums, which had adorned the two levels of the store, to anyone willing to cart the pots home.