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Whole Foods' 500th store offers eateries on four floors

Milestone location includes locally sourced "food hall experience."

Whole Foods Market has opened its 500th store, a midtown Atlanta location that will serve as the flagship for the Southern region.

The 70,000-square-foot, four-level store, which premiered in a grand-opening event Friday, houses four fast-casual eateries—including a rooftop venue—plus more than 1,500 local items from 250 suppliers. It’s located at 22 14th Street NW, in Related Group’s Icon Midtown residential development.

Whole Foods said the store’s “food hall experience” includes the Canopy Court, 14th Street Bar, Capital Experience and Farm Burger, all offering exclusive food menus, curated selections of locally sourced beer and wine as well as Wi-Fi.

WFM_Midtown_Atlanta_Opening_Day.pngSituated on a rooftop terrace with skyline views, Canopy Court offers stadium seating, games and TVs, with a food truck that serves an assortment of wines, local beers and a rotating food menu. Hours vary according to the season. The 14th Street Bar includes a private, outdoor dining balcony that overlooks 14th and West Peachtree streets plus a screened porch with comfortable seating and heaters for colder days. Customers can order from a selection of wines, local beers and soft drinks. Hours are 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily, with seating for 111 people indoors and 28 people on the balcony.

Whole Foods said Capital Commons is designed to be “a place where friends and neighbors can gather.” Named for its location in Georgia’s capital, the full-service Allegro coffee and espresso bar also serves up wine, local beers, sandwiches and baked goods, including handmade biscuits from Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit. It has indoor seating for 60 customers and operates from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.

Farm Burger, meanwhile, is slated for an early summer opening. Its menu focuses on 100% locally sourced, grass-fed and grass-finished beef burgers, with other items including chicken burgers, vegan options, farm-fresh salads and children’s fare, as well as a selection of beer on tap. Whole Foods said the eatery will have indoor seating for 86 people and outdoor seating for 28 people and be open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Farm Burger is opening at the store through the Friends of Whole Foods Market program, in which the supermarket chain partners with outside culinary and lifestyle brands to bring shoppers unique experiences.

“Whole Foods Market Midtown will be a true gathering space for the community,” Bobby Turner, president of the South region for Whole Foods, said in a statement. “We worked hard to create a place that offers our neighbors a destination to get together, enjoy great food and connect with members of the local community through a variety of culinary, wellness and cultural events. We’re proud that our new South Region flagship has the honor of opening as Whole Foods Market’s 500th store, marking an incredible milestone for the company.” 

Whole_Foods_Midtown_Atlanta_opening_produce.pngThe midtown Atlanta Whole Foods also features a range of hot and cold prepared food bars with seasonal dishes and options for special diets. They include build-your-own avocado toast and lettuce wrap bars; a skillet bar offering items such as fried chicken, wings and fried fish; a salad bar and soup wells; self-serve pizza; sushi from Genji; a station serving made-to-order sandwiches; rotisserie chicken; plant-focused grain bowls; and seasonally rotating culinary popup stations. In addition, a detox juice bar provides made-to-order smoothies, juice shots, cold-pressed blends and açai bowls.

The store’s fresh produce department offers seasonal fruits and vegetables, including selections from regional growers and an in-store “fruit and vegetable butcher” who cuts produce to order as customers shop. There’s also an assortment of more than 100 beers and 1,000 wines, including products from 44 local producers, along with 150 bins of bulk scoop items (such as candy, beans, grains, dried herbs and spices) and a European-inspired floral shop.

Whole Foods said the flagship store, too, will host regular culinary, health and wellness, and social community events, such as open-mic nights for local musicians and comedians, meet-the-maker events with owners and artisans behind the products sold in-store, an art gallery night featuring local artists and their work, and rooftop fitness (including Zumba, yoga and cycling). There also will be “The Chef’s Table,” an exclusive event providing one-on-one cooking experiences with local chefs and farmers.

Austin, Texas-based Whole Foods had opened its 499th location just a couple of days before, a 45,000-square-foot store in Commack, New York. The outlet includes an in-store, fast-casual eatery called the Pizza Parlor, offering a menu of fresh pizza from a wood-burning oven, antipasti, hearth-roasted main and side dishes, and locally brewed beer on tap and wines by the glass. The store marks Whole Foods’ fourth location on suburban Long Island, part of metropolitan New York.

Nation's Restaurant NewsThis piece originally appeared on Nation’s Restaurant News, a New Hope Network sister website. Visit the site for more foodservice industry business intelligence.

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