By Brooke Edwards
Whole Foods Market has announced March 29 as the opening date of its much-delayed location on E. Houston St. between Bowery and Chrystie St., beneath the Avalon Chrystie Place apartment complex. The Lower East Side store, originally scheduled to open in 2006, will be more than 80,000 square feet and will employ more than 650 workers.
In addition to the natural and organic foods the chain is known for, the store will also feature a culinary center, natural cotton clothing and a line of body products. But, much to the relief of many nearby small businesses, it will not be selling alcohol.
Whole Foods was planning to open a wine store in conjunction with its Lower East Side location, but the State Liquor Authority has twice unanimously voted against its application for a liquor license. The S.L.A. has not yet released its official statement about the reason for its decision.
Susan Stetzer, district manager at Community Board 3, said the board was also against giving the mega-store a liquor license because they were afraid that it would hurt the local mom-and-pop stores in the neighborhood.
George Williams, manager of the Elizabeth St. wine store Elizabeth & Vine, said, I am kind of relieved, in that my job is safe for the time being. I was concerned. There wouldve been a tremendous threat to a small boutique store like ours with the type of sales and pricing that they wouldve done.
The new Whole Foods location will feature the chains Whole Body line, which includes products such as soaps, lotions and vitamins, and the ECO line, which includes organic cotton clothing, sheets and shoes.
It will also include a cooking school with guest appearances by some of New Yorks best chefs. In line with the mission of the market, the culinary school will focus on cooking for a healthy lifestyle. The culinary center will also be available to rent for private parties or one-on-one cooking instruction.
Whole Foods has committed that at least 10 to 15 percent of its store will feature products from farmers, artisans and vendors living in New York State and New York City. Local sellers can e-mail requests for the store to carry their products to email@example.com.
The Whole Foods chain started with one store in Austin, Texas, in 1980. The chain now has 193 locations throughout the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom.
There are already three Whole Foods Markets in Manhattan, with locations in Chelsea, Columbus Circle and Union Square, and Whole Foods plans to continue expanding in New York City. The first Brooklyn store will open in spring 2008. There are also plans for a fifth Manhattan location in Tribeca on the corner of Greenwich and Warren Sts., which could open by the end of the year.