Ribbon-cutting is out; breaking bread is in at the Grand Opening of Whole Foods Market’s biggest and best store yet.
I want to like the newest Whole Foods Market. I’ve been shopping with them since they opened the original store at 10th and Lamar (now inhabited by Cheapo CDs). All through the 1980s I shopped at their Brodie Oaks location. But when they moved to the northeast corner of 6th and Lamar they lost me. Then Central Market opened up and their selection was larger, their prices cheaper, and their staff friendlier. Still, I’ve always wanted to come back to WFM because they are the closest supermarket to our house, the only one within walking distance, and because they are one of those visionary Austin institutions that makes Austin special. As of today, WFM is now a block closer and bigger than ever.
At 9:30 I was there for the Grand Opening Ceremony. The speeches were short. Bread was broken. The crowd piled into the store. And it’s huge! But it feels more like a market street than a warehouse. There’s the green grocer and the fishmonger, (I bought the first fish and they gave me a big cheer.) the pastry shop, the bread shop, the cheese shop, the wine shop, Beer Alley, and the chocolate shop. Did I miss something? Probably. Even the underground parking lot is attractive: well-lit and painted a light cream color. You can use the grocery valet to have your bags delivered to your car.
What I really want is a place to grab a bite after working out. Something to eat there. Something to take home. I think I’m going to like hanging out on the rooftop garden, listening to live music or surfing the net with the free WiFi. The problem with shopping downtown now is that cars still rule. It’s difficult to find a nice place to sit outside and enjoy being there. Walking along parking-lot lined streets, waiting to cross six lanes of traffic is no enticement to the pedestrian at all. This new WFM is a major step in making downtown a people place. Kudos to WFM for building downtown and not out in the suburbs. I want our relationship to work this time.