On Wednesday morning, over 250 people waited patiently in 20-degree weather outside Brooklyn’s most anticipated new retail destination before its 9 a.m. opening. But it wasn’t a sneaker store or a vintage record shop—it was the first East Coast location of Whole Foods’ Market 365 chain of stores.
This Market 365 is one of seven locations of its kind—all of its sister shops are west of the Mississippi—and is being hailed as the Texas giant’s version of a “neighborhood” grocery store. The aim? To offer an easier shopping experience by condensing Whole Foods’ core values into a smaller footprint, offering necessities like cheese, produce, and, of course, beer. We decided to tour the new digs to see how the 365 differed from a regular Whole Foods. What’d we find? Well, a store that’s a bit more streamlined and, as one tour guide pointed out to us, offers some items that are more affordable than the ones you’ll find in the mainline stores. And—get this—a pizza phone.
Self-Serve Beer Pouring System
For beer and cider heads, the ground floor of the store has a pour-your-own station with a rotating round of taps. You load up a card with money and choose your receptacle and fill up. Surrounding this were the Next Level plant-based burger shop, a Juice Press, and Orwashers coffee shop and bakery with ample seating around to hole up with a laptop and get some work done, if you don’t mind a whole grocery store buzzing below you.
From Miller High Life to Graft Ciders, the fridges were stocked with a bevy of beverages, which can be overwhelming. Lots of local options for beers and ciders were available. Right next to the selection, however, were touch screens that offered up a whole mess of information by just scanning a bottle or can’s QVC code. Scanning a bottle of regular Brooklyn Brewery Lager brought up meal pairings, beer description, customer reviews, and other tidbits. These are all things you could do on your phone by opening a few apps or search tabs, but it was nice to have it all in one place, right in front of your face.
A red phone located in the store’s frozen section seemed to be its crown jewel. When picked up, this phone has one duty: to start baking you a pizza while you shop. Not a bad deal to only have to pick up the “pizza phone” and then have a fresh pie waiting for you when you’re done shopping. The Brooklyn location is the only one with this pizza phoning ability.
No Artificial Additives in These Eats, Naturally
The store offers the normal 365 brand of products along with outside ones that adhere to Whole Foods’ guidelines. That includes no artificial ingredients, sweeteners, colors, preservatives, hydrogenated fats and high-fructose corn syrup, you get the idea. While the store doesn’t have a cheesemonger on site, or butchers available to walk you through the cut of steak you want, the wide selection of cheeses (including an enticing Jarlsberg) and meats still looked delectable. All the meat still hits Whole Foods’ “5-Step Animal Welfare Standards” and the seafood is responsibly farmed or sustainably caught.