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NEW YORK -- Austin, Texas-based Whole Foods Market opened its doors across from Manhattan's Union Square Park here yesterday, with a uniquely-designed three-story unit at the location of a former Bradlee's discount department store.
The grand opening came two days after the retailer threw a party offering some Manhattanites a sneek peak. The evening benefit featured celebrity chefs from tony restaurants nearby, including Babbo's Mario Batali, Union Square Café's Michael Romano, and Alfred Portale of the Gotham Bar & Grill.
"There was a lot of grazing going on," a Whole Foods Market team member told a Progressive Grocer editor who visited the store. "With a $20 donation -- which went to benefit the renovation of Union Square Park, they filled themselves up," the associate said of attendees.
In this first multi-level Whole Foods, the concept of a physical "center store" is non-existent, as each floor is made up of various destination departments: prepared foods and a salad bar on the main floor, a Whole Body HBC section and produce at the Market Level downstairs, and a picnic area on the top floor, along with a juice bar and coffee shop. For the most part, shelf stable foods were located on the Market Level.
The new store also features a Salt World and Chocolate World; and an expanded line of offerings in its prepared foods section, including hot pizza by the pound and a grilling station.
-- Joe Tarnowski