Employees at the Whole Foods Market in Wauwatosa scurried around the new 47,563-square-foot store Tuesday morning as they made last-minute tweaks in preparation for opening day.
One employee meticulously positioned oranges on stands in the produce section while another stocked boxes of quinoa in a nearby aisle.
The Whole Foods Market, 11100 W. Burleigh St., is the third of its kind to open in Wisconsin; one is located in Madison, and another at 2305 N. Prospect Ave. in Milwaukee, which opened in 2006. The Austin, Texas-based grocer, which sells natural and organic food and products, was to open in Wauwatosa at 9 a.m. Feb. 24.
Shopping at Whole Foods Market is all about the experience, said Kera Glass, associate marketing coordinator for the store's Midwest region. That's why details evoking Wauwatosa, such as the Tosa Tavern, which boasts 20 beers on tap — including a few selections from brewers in Wisconsin, such as New Glarus — are incorporated into the store, she said.
Shoppers can sit down and enjoy a brew at the Tosa Tavern's bar, or they can take it with them while they do their shopping, Glass said. The store will soon offer patio seating outside with gas-powered fire pits.
"We want people to feel comfortable," she said.
Not in the mood for a beer? A juice bar serving fresh juices and smoothies greets shoppers by the front entrance. A coffee bar offering light-, medium- and dark-roasted coffees, espresso drinks, blended coffee beverages, frozen custard and more is also available in the store.
Glass said keeping employees happy is important to the company, too. About 120 people were hired to staff the new store and despite the deadline pressure of opening the doors to area foodies first thing Wednesday morning, Glass said all employees would get home at a reasonable time Tuesday.
Sprinkled throughout the store is a firefly design, because Wauwatosa is said to mean "firefly" in Potawatomi. The design can be found near the Tosa Tavern and near the store's beauty and hygiene section.
Gourmet sausages made in-house with Lakefront Brewery's Riverwest Stein Amber Ale can be purchased in the store, and the "Cookshack," a stop for shoppers to purchase burgers, sausages, sandwiches and fried fish is also available.
Other highlights at the store include a self-serve pizza station, a hot bar, salad bar, sushi stop, and an olive bar.
More than 150 bulk pantry items and more than 60 bulk spices are for sale. And customers can choose from a selection of more than 1,000 wines, 400 beer and 200 cheeses.
Store hours are 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.
About Mayfair Collection
Whole Foods Market is the anchor tenant for the second phase of development at The Mayfair Collection, a large project that called for repurposing functionally obsolete warehouse buildings into contemporary retail environments. Whole Foods is expected to be joined by a mix of upscale bars and restaurants.
Verlo Mattress Factory Store and HomeGoods, a home-decor chain stocking a variety of furnishings, bedding and kitchenware, are also part of the project's second phase.
The project's first phase — which opened in April 2014 and is now fully leased — is anchored by Nordstrom Rack, Dick's Sporting Goods, Saks Off 5th and DSW, among other retailers.
Hilton Homewood Suites, a 140-room hotel, is expected to reach completion in late fall of this year, Schrader said.
The shopping center also features a number of dining options, including Osgood's, a fast-casual dining experience managed and developed by Bartolotta Restaurants.
Three more restaurants, including a French cafe, taqueria and tavern-style options, also developed by Bartolotta Restaurants, are expected to open by April 2016. They make up a 17,000-square-foot, triple-concept theme, with all three restaurants operating out of the same kitchen, Joe Bartolotta, co-owner of Bartolotta Restaurants, has said.
Whole Foods gives back
In celebration of opening week, the Wauwatosa store will hold five "Days of Community Giving," where one percent of each day's sales will go toward a local nonprofit. The days and beneficiaries are:
· Feb. 24 — Education Foundation of Wauwatosa
· Feb. 25 — Friends of Boerner Botanical Gardens
· Feb. 26 — Eisenhower Elementary School PTA
· Feb. 27 — Zoological Society of Milwaukee
· Feb. 28 — Wauwatosa Historical Society