Remember when grocery stores used to be dull and uneventful? I recall the most exciting part of my childhood store was actually smelling the rotisserie chicken through the glass cabinet located at the back of the store. I can still see myself leaning my eight year old forehead on the glass and breathing in the heavenly scent of that flavorful chicken. That was the peak of excitement in the 70's. Now walking into a grocery store is an all new sensory experience; from fresh hot coffee with half & half, sneaking in a bit of turbinado sugar for good measure, or sampling vintage cheese that leaves you reaching for a package as your evening snack.
It's not only pleasurable and relaxing but it's addicting.
I was invited today to a sneak peak of the new Whole Foods Market at the Coddingtown Mall in Santa Rosa, California. The store is set to open Wednesday September 22nd. The day will begin with a bread breaking ceremony at 9:45 a.m followed by tastings, prizes, give-aways, and live music.
The incredible new Bulk Foods section is complete with four rows of nuts, seeds, flours, grains, dried fruits, cereals as well as a gravity fed spice dispensers. Jars and little scoops will be a thing of the past. The first place I'm hitting on Wednesday will definitely be this area.
Our tour of the bright and gleaming new store was led by Wes Walton Store Team Leader, Jennifer Marples Whole Foods Public Relations and Melissa Mueller - Marketing & Community Relations.
90% of the Whole Foods team leaders that will be working in the Coddingtown Store live here in Sonoma County.
The aisle of Raw Foods was the most extensive that I've yet to see. Raw kale chips with nutritional yeast is a favorite snack of mine and I counted at least four different brands with many varieties and flavors to choose from.
Wes explained that Whole Foods is featuring a floating aisle completely filled with gluten-free foods. Opposite the gluten-free products is the 4th row of the bulk section that is free of any gluten-items. It's wonderful to see how hard they have worked to keep the contamination away from the gluten-free foods.
While Whole Foods Market is a large grocery store chain, they have made every effort to create a local feel from paintings of the Santa Rosa Region dotting the store to the "Local" badge under price tags on every item from this area. They've also placed "Gluten-Free" badges throughout the store which makes shopping for both local and gluten free simple.
I gave a blissful sigh when I spotted Udi's not in the freezer but fresh in the gluten-free section.
With the installation of the one-of-a-kind Tap Room, I don't think I'll ever have trouble getting my husband Dave to go shopping again. He'll be able to relax in the Tap Room which is made almost entirely out of reclaimed wood. He can order a Beer Flight of four beers. They will offer 16 beers on tap that will include a large selection of local beers. In fact I don't think Dave will ever not go shopping with me. Customers do need to be at least 21 years of age to enter the Tap Room so don't forget your ID.
In the refrigerated section right outside of the Tap Room, Whole Foods offers approximately 350 beers including Red Bridge.
While Dave lingers in the Tap Room, I'll be over here with the children in search of cheese samples. They are my weakness. My daughter asked me the other day for some Vintage Irish Cheese. That's not something you often hear your ten year old request.
Kombucha Botanica's Healthy Living Tonic is available on tap.
The Healthy Starts Here Center is a cozy room nestled in a corner that seats up to twenty people and will serve as the location for the Whole Foods Market Lectures on healthy eating but will also be available -free of charge- to Santa Rosa Civic Groups and non-profit organizations that need occasional meeting space.
FREE Whole Foods Market "Healthy Starts Here" upcoming events include:
Healthy Eating 101 - Wednesday Oct 13th 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m & 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Meals for 4 under $10.00 - Monday Oct 24th 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m & 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Cooking with Pumpkin - Thursday Oct 28th 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m & 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Although I don't eat wheat, my two children adore the Whole Foods Burrito Bar. Whole Foods offers a Burrito & Sandwich Club Card. When you buy 10 sandwiches or burritos you get one free.
Here are some more highlights of the Santa Rosa Whole Foods Market that I want to share with you:
- They offer a Snack-Mix bar that will be entertaining for the children and light on your wallet. It's a bargain at only $4.99 a pound.
- Free Wi-Fi throughout the store including an amazingly large seating area with tables to sip on coffee as you peruse the internet.
- Coddingtown Whole Foods is going to be Nitrate Free & High Fructose Corn Syrup Free. They have a disclaimer that a few items might accidentally sneak in but for the most part you don't have to worry about reading the ingredients list and searching for either of these items.
- Local fish will be sourced from The Tides in Bodega Bay.
- You'll be able to find 4 grind-your-own nut butters that include a mouthwatering choice of organic peanut, honey peanut, chocolate peanut (a mix of chocolate chips & peanuts) and almond.
- You can take a tour of the store for special diets like gluten-free living. There are even store tours for moms.
- Children ages 2-8 can join the Kids Club which gives them membership cards to receive one healthy treat for each visit to the store.