Wednesday, September 26, 2007

It's Like A Whole Block

I've been waiting for months for the Whole Foods Market to open in Oakland because it's just a couple of blocks from my work, which means easy after-work shopping on my way home. (Before I would shop at the Whole Foods Market in Berkeley, which is a 15-minute bus ride and 10-minute walk from my home.) Today the new Oakland store, built in the Adams Point neighborhood near Lake Merritt, finally opened to the public. And while I don't want to necessarily make this one big advertisement, I couldn't ignore the elephant in the room. (This is only the third Whole Foods in the East Bay.) You know I was there on opening day checking out the new store, and first impression is this place is huuuuge. (It officially weighs in at 55,000 square feet.)

What took awhile for this store to be built is that it's in a historic building (a former Cadillac dealership) and Whole Foods took care in retaining the facade of the former building, near the auto row area of Oakland surrounded by car dealerships. On a beautiful sunny day, there are tons of outdoor seating for people who buy a ready-made food pack and choose to eat on the spot.

This is one of many specialty food counters in the center of the huge store. This one, the Asian Express, focuses on Asian dishes, from Chinese to Thai to Japanese. Naturally this is where you'll find the sushi counter. Off to the side next to it is the roastery and charcuterie.

Near the produce section and adjacent to the wine wall is a bistro selling sandwiches, soups, roasted items and other dishes perfect for lunch. You can bet I'll be here often on my lunch hour!
Since this is a really new store, there are many "organic" and "feel good" food sayings all over the place, such as this one over the huge cheese counter.

Similar to the new store opened in San Francisco's Potrero Hill neighborhood, this Oakland store offers a spa area near the cosmetics area. I'm not sure, but I think you actually can get a massage behind those doors.

Here's the pizza counter with freshly made pizza from the Hearth oven. It's right next to a gelato counter serving gelato from Naia. Perfecto!

Here's the huge indoor area of the cafe. I love how there is so much natural light coming in with the design of the store.

I like how in the center of the store there's this huge Oakland sign. It really shows how the store is showing its support for the community, and with the crowds that gathered today and all the oohs and aahs I heard walking around, it looks like the community is happy Whole Foods is finally opened as well. It's still true that Whole Foods have some pretty high-priced products, but they also have some unique-looking and hard-to-find products that you're willing to pay the high price to get. For me, it'll be a nice quality place that's convenient. I won't shop here for all my food needs, but will come looking for things when I feel creative.

Whole Foods Market, 230 Bay Place, Oakland. PH: 510.834.9800.


Eric said...

This is a great addition to the area, and even better since they managed to find a creative reuse for the building. A much needed neighborhood amenity for existing residents and for everyone who moves into the new 10K downtown housing.

foodhoe said...

ooh I am jealous! Makes me want to move back to Oakland...

Mrs. L said...

We just had a mega Whole Foods open up here a couple of months ago in Cupertino. Your post makes me want to go check it out!

Chubbypanda said...

It's interesting how Whole Foods is sort of super sizing al la Walmart. Now that's it's turned local and organic into big business, what will happen to farmer's markets and smaller chains like Bi-Rite in the surrounding area?

Don't get me wrong, there's one of those close to me and I shop there frequently. I consider the development of Whole Foods mega stores to be part of the inevitable evolution of business. But, at the same time, Whole Foods is rapidly becoming something at odds with the original values upon which it was founded.