A Whole Foods Market grocery opened its doors this morning at Fashion Island, drawing hundreds of customers who lined up for a chance to be among the first to explore the 32,000-square-foot shop.
“I’m just really excited about having here close by,” said Pattie Scott, who was the first in line. Scott was shopping with her cooking instructor, Susan Miller, and the two women planned to browse and explore with no set shopping list.
Linda Rigas of Newport Beach said she planned to look for groceries to suit her vegan diet, as well as to explore the Whole Body section of the store.
“They have natural brands, brands you can’t find elsewhere,” Rigas said. “What I love is they have testers out. You can test what the products feel like on your skin, and the staff usually are very knowledgable.”
Customers waiting in line received small baguettes. Then, the store’s team leader, George Khoury, and Patrick Bradley, a regional president for Whole Foods, gave short speeches to welcome everyone.
They and other Whole Foods representatives then broke an enormous loaf of bread — a tradition for each Whole Foods grand opening — and the doors opened to shoppers.
Staff members handed baskets and carts to the shoppers who streamed in, and employees applauded and cheered, welcoming them in a gauntlet as the shoppers made their way past piles of melons and dragon fruit.
Inside, representatives from local farms that are supplying produce, as well as other product representatives, greeted shoppers and answered questions. Shoppers began to fill bags with dried nuts and fruit from bulk bins, and to order coffees and teas and to explore the prepared food section.
Tori Beerbower of Huntington Beach paused at a self-serve honey station, where shoppers can fill empty honey bear containers with one of three specialty honeys — raspberry, sage and peach.
“That is seriously so amazing,” she said before wondering off.
The shop offers free valet parking for customers, and there are carts that can take shoppers and their groceries to their cars. There also is a pub and a tea shop.
“It’s a beautiful store,” said Gerri Stern of Newport Beach.