Story and photos by Kelly Lindner
With more skylights, a rainwater collection system and more than 350 organic produce items, the new Whole Foods Market Domain is even greener than usual.
“Each of our locations has its own theme and decor,” says Rachel Malish, Austin media and community relations coordinator for Whole Foods.
The theme of this location is “fresh” and “reclaimed.” When customers walk into the main entrance, they’re immediately greeted with organic produce and a wheelbarrow mobile crafted by Austin Roadhouse Relics. The 20 wheelbarrows, like the wood and pine used throughout the store, are refurbished. “We literally scavenge to find cool things to put in our stores,” Malish says.
But not everything is recycled. The seafood section will have new do-it-yourself sushi and sashimi ingredients that are deep frozen while fresh so customers can roll at home. The bakery will have new items made in-store like tortillas, bagels and bialys, and the bulk section will be the first in Whole Foods to have dried mushrooms and peppers. There will even be two new venues: Texas Ramen, a hybrid of Japanese ramen and Texas BBQ, and the Draft Shack, an oyster bar featuring raw and chargrilled oysters, gumbo and BBQ shrimp.
Other store eateries will include a taqueria, sushi bar, sandwich bar, pizza station and the Public Domain (a reclaimed freight-train container converted into an outdoor beer and bratwurst bar).
When it comes to seating, there are many comfortable places to plop down, including an outdoor performance space for live music (where well-behaved, on-leash, dogs are always welcome, especially during Yappy Hours, Thursdays, 5 to 7 p.m.), a plaza with gas fireplaces and an upper patio where customers can sit in rocking chairs while enjoying the view over the side.
Another interesting space will be the community room, which will feature cooking demonstrations, yoga, and other classes. See the store’s events calendar for the ongoing schedule.
The store opens Weds, Jan. 15, at 8 a.m., after a bread breaking ceremony at 7:30 a.m. At the Grand Opening customers can shop the full range of high-quality natural and organic foods, some locally sourced: “We always have to rope off the aisles during preview parties because otherwise people try and buy things,” Malish says. Not to mention that the first 500 customers will receive the new line of cloth Austin bags, each stuffed with 365 Everyday Value products. But all shoppers can relish tastings, samples, a photo booth, special sales, giveaways, music and events throughout the day.
There will be free valet during opening day to keep up with demand, but the parking situation at this 63,000-square-foot location is pretty forgiving in general: there’s a sizable lot at the store’s entrance and another underground in the store’s parking garage.
For a full list of opening week events, please visit the store’s website at www.wholefoodsmarket.com/stores/domain.