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MIDDLETOWN, N.J. -- Natural and organic grocery chain Whole Foods Market opened its first location on the New Jersey Shore yesterday, at Chapel Hill Shopping Center here. The occasion also marked the opening of the company's 170th store.
"We know that residents along the Jersey Shore have been patiently waiting for the opening of a Whole Foods Market of their own, and today I'm proud to say that we're here to serve them with a tremendous selection of purely delicious, all-natural foods," noted Christina Minardi, president of Whole Foods' Tri-State Region.
Measuring over 48,000-square feet, the new store includes such features as a nut-roasting center where 10 varieties of nuts and eight kinds of nut butters are prepared and served fresh daily, fishmongers to tell customers about the fresh catches of the day, a large wine and beer department with daily wine tastings from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., and a bakery island with 15 daily baked artisan breads, many dessert options, and doughnuts made on-site, all without trans fats.
A rotisserie in the meat department roasts chicken, ribs, pork, lamb, kabobs in a basket, and small turkeys. A chili and stew station features three varieties of hot, ready-to-eat chili. The prepared-foods section has two salad bars, a hot-foods bar specializing in Indian and Latin dishes, and seven types of soup, along with stations for pizza, sushi, and other foods.
After paying at one of the 13 resisters at checkout, shoppers can opt to take their prepared-food purchases home or stay and eat at the store's café, which can hold nearly 200 people.
The Middletown location also boasts a wide assortment of gluten-free products from the company's dedicated bakehouse, and freshly prepared "Ready to Cook" kits. It offers a Whole Body body care and cosmetic section, which includes a makeup station where shoppers can try out products and get samples to take home.
"Our store will be great theater -- from the nut-roasting center to our seafood team members in their fishermen jumpsuits," said Paula DiMeglio, Whole Foods Market store team leader at the Middletown location. "We've turned the chore of grocery shopping into a fun, dynamic experience for Middletown."
At a special sneak preview on Monday night, where nearly 1,000 people sampled dozens of items, the store raised almost $50,000 for Clean Ocean Action, a local organization committed to improve the degraded water quality of the marine waters off the New Jersey/New York coast. As well as hosting the benefit, Whole Foods contributed $25,000. The company donates 5 percent of profits annually to a variety of nonprofit organizations in addition to having quarterly 5 percent days, on which the store gives that percentage of a day's sales to a local nonprofit organization.
Whole Foods operates stores in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom under the Whole Foods Market, Harry's Farmers Market, and Fresh & Wild banners.