Whole Foods is coming! Whole Foods is coming! I feel like the town crier, but Whole Foods is now actually here in my beloved Virginia Beach and the grand opening is tomorrow. A few weeks ago they offered the community the opportunity to register for pre-launch tours and I was excited to take advantage. Apparently this was the first time they ever did this for an opening and I found it really informative and helpful. I’m confident that the crowds will make it overwhelming to shop there for weeks, but being in there when it was relatively empty and with a guide will prove to be so helpful. Fortunately I took a partner-in-crime who did a bang up job of taking notes while I snapped a ton of photos (thanks Michelle). Otherwise I am sure I’d miss some of the details because it seems that Whole Foods is way more than just your run-of-the-mill grocery store.
We started the tour in the produce department but I couldn’t take my eyes off the beautiful display of orchids that were right behind me. Their flower department will have fresh flowers, pre-arranged, grab and go, or they will create an arrangement for you per your desires for free. Men, woman love fresh flowers – anytime, frequently, not just when you mess up or to commemorate an occasion. You’re welcome.
The produce that was out looked amazing and the variety was impressive. I saw three types of pears (you see three types of apples all the time, pears - not so much). You can also taste anything. That goes for anything in the store, not just the produce. Simply ask a Whole Foods staff member and they will assist in sampling. Apples are in season and Whole Foods is celebrating on October 27 with an Apple Fest from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. They will have crafts, live music, apple-themed demos and tastings. The first 500 customers will also receive a free half-gallon of fresh pressed cider from Country Acres. From the in-store produce Whole Foods makes fresh guacamole and salsa every morning. Mmm, guacamole!
One of the cooler tour stops was the bulk section. Where you can purchase spices, beans, lentils, flours, nuts and dried fruit in any measurement. If you only need a tablespoon of a spice, buy that rather than stocking a spice cabinet with a bottle of something you may never use again.
On to the proteins. All of the seafood is traced to its source that means you know what you are getting. The meat is also labeled one through five (plus). One being no crates, cages or crowding and five plus indicating that your dinner may have lived a better life than your family pet. There is an on-site dry aged beef case.
They also make 20 varieties of organic chicken and pork sausage (in-house). We sampled the Olli Salumeria slow cured salame and it was ah-mazing. I can’t wait to serve this.
|My co-blogger and food sampler extraordinaire.|
And you know what goes good with salami? Cheese! Cheeses are cut by hand in the store. Feel free to sample before you purchase, it’s a great way to try step out of your comfort zone for something you may not be brave enough to purchase. (Some cheeses can be pricey.) We sampled a lager cheddar from Rogue Creamery. Really tasty.
My favorite take away from the tour was that I could get fresh pasta any day of the week. Whole Foods makes whole wheat, egg, spinach and tomato pasta fresh daily. They will cut it for you in any shape you desire.
The bakery smelled wonderful. They have a cookie bar with over 60 varieties of tea cookies.
If you are interested in grab-and-go, you are covered there as well with a seasonal salad bar, a separate organic salad bar, soups, fresh sushi by Genji who will build a roll per your request of ingredients and different kinds of rice or wrap, pizza and sandwiches made from meat and bread prepared fresh daily.
Then there is The Porch. Virginia Beach’s next happy hour hot spot. Happy hour is Monday through Friday 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. with $1 off of draft beer or wine. They have seven local beers and one local hard cider. On Saturdays enjoy a Bloody Mary bar from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. or on Sunday a Mimosa bar. The Porch opens at 7 a.m. and serves 100% organic coffee that is organic from ground through the fixings. And it is GOOD coffee. On November 23 they will offer a free 8 ounce coffee all day.
Two things that set Whole Foods apart from other grocery stores are Cara and Luke. They are Whole Food’s healthy eating specialist and cooking coach. Both are complimentary resources for us to take advantage of. Cara will help create plans or find items to accommodate gluten-free diets, vegetarians, organic or simply those interested in a healthier lifestyle. As for Luke, tell him an ingredient and he will provide you a recipe and that recipe will be simple, like five ingredients simple so it won’t be hard or time consuming. Cara will be offering Health Starts Here tours October 30, November 8 and 29; all at 11 a.m. Luke will be offering What’s Cooking with Luke classes October 26 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., October 27 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., and October 28 from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m.
There are local elements built into the store as well. The buyers purchase as much as they can from local farmers within a 100-mile radius. There is also a whole bunch of analysis done on product movement to determine what moves for our area. If you don’t see something you want, ask for it. They also know we are a beach town and have used vintage water skis to decorate the check out area, pretty cook huh?
- 10% case discount for everything in the store
- Coupons available online or in book at front of store
- Every Friday is One Day Deal, an amazing deal on one item in the store
- A 10-punch card for vitamins and supplements, buy 10 get one free
- Pizza is buy one get one free every Tuesday
- Check out the Virginia Beach Whole Foods website
- Sign up for weekly emails from Whole Foods VB detailing weekly sale items here
- Follow on Twitter or like them on Facebook