I was lucky enough to be invited to the Whole Foods Rockville Blogger Tour Pre-Opening tonight and wow, this store is incredible! Unfortunately my camera ran out of battery halfway through the tour, but you will get the idea from the pictures I do have.
If you live anywhere near Rockville you MUST visit this store soon. I promise you will not be dissappointed.
When we came up to the front door we saw a sign that welcomed all the bloggers. We started our tour right away. The coffee expert told us about a $70 a pound coffee from Panama that they are featuring. There are also 3 new brewing systems that they are using but since I don’t drink coffee I wandered off to take pictures of the fruit.
Before I left the coffee bar area I saw the gelati popsicles. These look wonderful, so fresh and delicious on a hot summer day.
This Whole Foods has a beautiful cultivate garden center right when you walk in. They are selling as many local flowers as possible. The flowers are so colorful and reasonably priced too.
They were still busy stocking shelves, setting things up, and getting the store ready for tomorrow’s 10 AM Grand Opening, but to me it looked perfect tonight. The fruit section was so beautiful. You just wanted to pick out a fruit and eat it.
Whole Foods is trying to sell as many whole trade fair trade items as possible. You can identify these products with the orange circle sticker on them. Whole trade brings fair trade to a higher level. It is socially responsible, and they make sure the employees who work so hard picking the fruits are paid well and treated well. In this new store there are many cut fruits that are organic!
Next we went to the fish area. The fish cases are much smaller and shorter, which encourages the fish guys to come out and talk with the customers. The fish area will be much more interactive! There is also a new fish freezer area with many gluten free options that were never offered at Whole Foods before. A smoked salmon all the way from Norway is another new highlight. The fish is rated on a 5 point scale and is rated by the BOI (Blue Ocean Institute). By Earth Day next year all unrated fish will no longer be sold at Whole Foods.
The next area was the cooking coach. This is something I have never seen before. A big table will feature one food or recipe and Michael Kiss, a cooking coach, is available 5 days a week to answer your cooking questions. If he is not there, there are 2 iPads to help answer your cooking questions. In this area there is a dry mushroom bar, and a huge amount of seeds, grains, flours and more with grinding areas as well. I wish I had some pictures, it was a huge incredible space that truly is one of a kind.
The grocery area is focused on VALUE. They do not want you to think of them as the most expensive store on the block.
Blue tags show items with everyday low prices all year long
Orange tags show sale items that last two weeks long
Whole foods checks the prices at other stores to match or be lower than other stores on many core items.
Gluten free items all are certified and checked and are shown with light green tags.
The dairy department has really cool new doors on all the milks, eggs, etc… These doors are more energy efficient and keep the cool air inside better.
There is also a cool granola bar, literally a bar with different types of granolas, that is conveniently located right next to the milks.
The meat department is huge! The meat is butchered in house. There is also a smoker so they can smoke meats with hickory or cherry wood. Briskets are smoked for over 13 hours alone! They have many dry aged meats which are aged for 2-3 weeks. The possibilities are endless in the meat department. The homemade sausages look incredible. If you are looking for something in the meat department just ask, they probably have it!
The cheese area is also enormous. Two of the cheese team members have worked in all 3 of the Rockville locations for the past 20 years. Their pictures are up on the wall behind the cheese area. This cheese area is three times as big as the old one. They will be cracking open a large parmigiana wheel this Saturday at 3pm with the Mayor of Rockville. You will be able to taste the heart of the Parm on Saturday.
A fresh pasta bar with homemade pastas and sauces is attached to the cheeses. It smelled and looked so good. I had to keep my son from diving in and tasting the marinara.
Next on the tour was the Restaurant Row. All food is made to order. There are fresh sandwiches made with the variety of meats and cheeses, Burgers, Sushi, Pizzas, and Arepas. The possibilities for dinner are endless.
The cake department went from 4 feet at the old store to 16 feet! Some of the highlights are
mini tarts at $1.99
vegan desserts from Sticky Fingers Bakery (only one of the best places in the world)
gluten free desserts
dairy free desserts
16 types of sliced breads
mini pies $2.49
Instead of saying Health Starts Here the baker told us that Happiness Starts Here. Here is the head baker showing us one of his mini apple pies
Here is an apple pie and a strawberry rhubarb pie just out of the oven.
The whole body area has two new items I had never seen before
a bath salt bar from local vendors and a facial imaging machine which analyzes your face, recommends products to help specific problems, saves your data, then analyzes you again to see if the products help!
May 3rd from 6-8 PM they will be having a spa night with free massages and 25% off many body care, facial products and makeup.
I could probably write 10 more pages but I need to get the kids to bed.
Tomorrow morning at 10 AM is the grand opening. I hope to see you there!!!