Since its first store opened in 1980, Whole Foods Market has made a name for itself across the country as a one-stop-shop for high quality, fresh ingredients. Natural and organic foods are the company’s specialty, and each store offers a wide array of options that are not only delicious but also healthy and sustainably-sourced. Although there are several Whole Foods locations throughout the Twin Cities area, for a long time, the closest to Woodbury was the St. Paul store, which required at least a 40-minute round-trip on the highway without traffic. Now, however, east metro shoppers can rejoice: Whole Foods has come to Woodbury at long last.
Whole Foods staff say that Woodbury has long topped the list of most-requested locations. “We would hear it all the time, and some of us have been lobbying here for ages,” says Phillip Higgs, regional marketing manager. “There was a critical mass of people who really wanted and needed more grocery options here. [Woodbury] is so close to St. Paul, but I think anyone who lives in the metro knows that it’s not necessarily super easy to get there.”
Construction of the 45,000-square foot facility began last fall, and May 24 marked the store’s official opening. Woodbury met Whole Foods with an especially warm and enthusiastic welcome—more than 1,000 people stood in line to celebrate the grocery store’s entrance to the community. “So, if we weren’t sure before, we definitely are now,” says Lauren Kebschull, senior marketing specialist. “I think it’s my favorite store opening out of all of the ones that I’ve been to.”
The demographics of Woodbury have also made the new location an especially good fit. “The number of families here in Woodbury is just staggering,” Higgs says. “It is a really family-oriented community, and these consumers really do value all that Whole Foods is offering, especially the peace of mind and the high-quality ingredients.”
The new Whole Foods is located in Woodbury’s CityPlace development, so it is nestled among many other well-known and well-loved business. Whole Foods says they are looking forward to opportunities to partner with their new neighbors through special events like cooking classes and wine and cheese tastings at the nearby Sur La Table.
Of course, the store has the wide range of natural and organic foods that have made the Whole Foods brand successful nationally. Their high-quality meat and seafood standards in particular help set the store apart. “A lot of people shop at our stores because they know that they can trust our meat and our seafood, which is a huge testament to the work that we have done in this industry,” Kebschull says. Thanks to such standards, Whole Foods customers can rest assured that their dinners have been made with both ethics and the environment in mind. Other meat-related highlights at Whole Foods include sausages, brats and burgers, which are all made in-house, and seafood that is brought in six days a week, making freshness a guarantee.
The Woodbury store also contains several unique features, which help make the long wait for a Whole Foods worth it. Beyond the typical produce, deli and bulk departments, it also boasts a liquor store, a mochi ice cream bar, freshly-made sushi, self-serve Neapolitan pizza and made-to-order poutine. There is also the CityPlace Taproom, which features a rotating tap of 15 local and/or hard-to-find beers, a barroom complete with free classic arcade games and an expansive patio for al fresco dining and drinking.
Although the fall will mark a return to shorter and darker days, Whole Foods has plenty of things in store for the chilly months ahead. Customers can look forward to a wide range of seasonal specialties in all areas of the store, especially the produce section, given that it’s harvest season. “Produce just tastes so much better [this] time of year,” Kebschull says. “During the September and October months, we always have a lot more local product. We’ll bring in heirloom tomatoes, local greens—it’s always a great time.”
The deli department has many grab-and-go items and is especially good in the fall, as it regularly features various fall flavors. Kebschull says although they rotate, there will always be something maple-glazed available. Throughout the rest of the store, other fall favorites include lots of apple-centric items—especially ciders and pies—along with plenty of pumpkin-spice-flavored goodies, everything from granola to gourmet popcorn to sandwich cream to ice cream.
Beyond the take-home items, there are many other ways to enjoy the bounty of the season at Whole Foods. The hot bar, perfect for lunch or dinner on the go, is an especially inviting option during the colder months. Its ready-to-enjoy and made-to-order options are ideal for any hungry but busy shopper. For those looking to indulge, the store has a variety of unique takes on the Canadian classic poutine (gravy fries). Kebschull also recommends the cauliflower meatball sandwich and notes that throughout all of Minnesota, it’s only available here in Woodbury.
The patio outside of the CityPlace Taproom is the perfect place to catch up with friends over an appetizer and a beer, and its fire pits make it possible to enjoy outdoor dining, even now that summer has faded away. Whole Foods staff say that above all, they want to create an exceptional shopping experience for their customers and encourage them to stick around, even after all of the items on their grocery lists are checked off.
“We really want people to come here, hang out and stay a while,” Kebschull says. “We see ourselves as both a community gathering space and a grocery store.”
The bakery at Whole Foods offers high-quality hearty breads and sweet treats.
Like many other grocery stores, Whole Foods has a full-service bakery in addition to its many other departments. From sweet treats such as cupcakes and cookies to more savory options like hearty breads and croissants, they have a wide range of take home goodies. However, thanks to the company’s commitment to healthy and high-quality ingredients, its bakery is anything but run-of-the mill.
“Our bakery is definitely a very popular part of our store, and it has the same great quality standards,” says Lauren Kebschull, senior marketing specialist. The eggs used in all of the bakery’s products are from cage-free, non-GMO-fed hens. The flour is both unbleached and unbromated, and each baked good is free of artificial flavors and sweeteners, as well as preservatives and hydrogenated fats. In short, Whole Foods’ baked goods are easy on the waistline and the environment—and, of course, they’re a treat for the taste buds as well.
Summer may be long behind us, but fall is perfect for baking, and Whole Foods has plenty of options to satisfy your cravings. No Midwestern fall would be complete without pie, and Whole Foods has that front covered. Kebschull says that during the fall, they partner with a Michigan baker, Achatz. “They make a lot of our pumpkin and sweet potato pies,” she says.
The savory croissants are a must-try item, particularly during the fall. Buttery, flaky and filling, they make a perfect comfort food, and the Woodbury store is the only location in Minnesota to offer them. Kebschull says the seasonal breads, particularly the cranberry walnut and the pumpkin pecan, are another stand-out item only available this time of year. “Both make an amazing stuffing addition, and they’re also great by themselves,” she says. “I get excited every year when the pumpkin pecan bread comes out.”
So, when you go to check out the new Whole Foods store, don’t forget to swing by the bakery. Whether it’s dessert for the family or a special treat just for yourself, you’re sure to find something good.