Volume 21, Number 8 | THE NEWSPAPER OF LOWER MANHATTAN | July 4 - July 10, 2008

Downtown Express photo by Jefferson Siegel

Tribeca’s Whole Foods, which opens next week, will be the chain’s second largest in the city and has suburban sized aisles.

A Whole big food market opens next week in Tribeca

By Julie Shapiro

The new Whole Foods will open at Greenwich and Warren Sts. next week — not with the cutting of a ribbon but rather with the slicing of bread.

At 8 a.m. Wed., July 9, store leaders will hold a bread-breaking ceremony featuring a 6-foot baguette. Then the doors to the 69,000-square-foot store will open, allowing customers into the second largest Whole Foods in the city.

Downtown residents and workers have long complained about the lack of supermarkets in the neighborhood, and they greeted the impending opening of Whole Foods with excitement.

“I can’t wait,” said John Leonard, who works around the corner at 75 Park Pl. He plans to go to Whole Foods for lunch and stop there to pick up groceries after work.

Lesley Leppert, 34, said she will shop at the new Whole Foods often. It’s on the way from her job at the Borough of Manhattan Community College to the World Trade Center PATH station, where she commutes home to New Jersey.

“It’s a wonderful, wonderful idea,” said her colleague Angela, 57, a B.M.C.C. administrator who did not want to give her name. “It’s needed in the neighborhood. We don’t have that many organic supermarkets.”

Ashleigh Boynton, who is running the new store, said she was especially eager to be opening a Whole Foods in Tribeca. (continued below photo)

Downtown Express photos by Jefferson Siegel

Whole Foods has a large cafe on the second floor.

“Tribeca I always thought was the coolest neighborhood,” she said.

Several months ago, Boynton went to the carnival that preceded the Manhattan Youth Downtown Community Center grand opening — across the street from the Whole Foods on Warren St. — and she couldn’t believe how many people turned out.

“I was floored,” she said. “It’s really like a little neighborhood.”

The store has everything loyal customers might expect — an extensive organic produce section, coffee from around the world roasted in-house and tables made from wood found floating in a river — but also introduces some features new to New York City. With 15 conveyer-belt checkouts and dozens of bulk bins of nuts, dried fruit and grains, the Tribeca store comes closest to replicating suburban Whole Foods stores.

“We’re expecting a lot of families,” Boynton said.

Boynton tailored several aisles just to kids, so parents pushing strollers won’t have to run all over the store looking for items. All in one aisle, parents can find diapers, juice boxes, baby food and frozen waffles.

The Tribeca Whole Foods will also have New York City’s largest cheese department, where an expert will be on hand to explain the difference between the $3.50 and $25 varieties. Shoppers will be able to buy freshly baked bread made from scratch, another first for the city.

After beer proved to be a popular item at the chain’s largest store in the city, Bowery Whole Foods, Boynton decided to devote eight refrigerator cases to it in Tribeca.

“People are viewing beer the way they viewed wine,” she said, adding that Whole Foods staff can give advice on food-beer pairings.

At a cafe upstairs from the main store, weary shoppers will be able to get a cup of coffee or a bowl of gelato and relax at a table beside floor-to-ceiling windows. Downstairs, a restaurateur from Spain will prepare pizza in a brick oven, using 23 of his own recipes never before seen in a Whole Foods.

A week before the opening, workers (or “team members,” as they’re called here) scurried around the store unloading boxes, stocking shelves and giving the shawarma station a trial run. Most of the dry, refrigerated and frozen goods were in place, but the produce and meat sections were empty. In the seafood section, ripped pieces of notebook paper reading “Sword Kabobs” and “Salmon Kabobs” told what would soon fill the glass cases.

Outside the store, Whole Foods had an unlikely supporter in Mo Douban, who has parked his food vending truck at Greenwich and Warren Sts. for the past year. Douban, 46, isn’t worried about competition. His dishes are priced at $4.50 and under, less expensive than what Whole Foods will offer, and he looks forward to the convenience of being able to stop in for groceries.

“It’ll help business,” he said from behind the counter of his truck. “A lot of people will be walking in.”

Starting next Wednesday, the Whole Foods will be open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.





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