Have you ever gnoshed on a sushi burrito? How about a savory crepe or spicy Korean gogi beef bowl? Those are just some of the prepared foods that will be featured at the new Whole Foods Market in Germantown. The store hosted a tasting for social media folks Friday night as we gathered to nibble our way through the store.
Whole Foods Market • 7825 Poplar Avenue, Germantown • 38138
Grand Opening • Tuesday, August 18
Spin the prize wheel for giveaways from 8-8:30 a.m.
Bread-breaking (ribbon cutting) at 8:45 a.m. Doors open at 9 a.m.
Store hours: 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily
As you might expect, the new store is bright, airy, and modern. Though many products hadn’t made it onto store shelves yet, the local product aisle is bursting with Tennessee-made goods, like barbecue and hot sauces, herb-infused olive oils, honey, jams, local brews, and more. Speaking of brews, there's a station that sells growlers and even a charcuterie cave filled with drying meats.
One of Kei Jei's Korean bowls (photos by Lauren Bernath, Whole Foods Market)
Even though the Austin-based grocery is a chain, “No two stores are exactly alike,” notes Lauren Bernath, the company’s regional social and public relations specialist. That's good news for shoppers, since the company is introducing several new food offerings at the Germantown location.
These include Kei Jei Kitchen, a food service company based out of Philadelphia that prepares Korean & Japanese street food. Made fresh daily in the store, their menu is extensive. The dishes I taste include a sushi burrito (think a large sushi roll), and a gogi beef bowl brimming with noodles and kimchi (a fermented cabbage). Both are delicious. The meals can be eaten at the kitchen — which features a long bar where customers stand to eat as they do in Japan — or taken to-go.
Their food is an interesting blend of fresh, spicy goodness. I expect Kei Jei will build an enthusiastic following.
Learning about cheese-making at the crepe bar
Over at La Creperie — Whole Food's first crepery in the South — shoppers can sit and watch chefs prepare their order. On the menu are three sweet crepes, flavored with items like fresh strawberries and Nutella, or two savory crepes (my favorites), which feature goat cheese and pepper jam or chicken and pimento cheese. Other sweets produced on-site will include beignets and donuts.
Another item that will hit foodie sweet spots is the cheese board, which offers four artisan cheeses, several meats, jams from the famed Blackberry Farm of East Tennessee, and veggies like pickled green tomatoes or cucumbers. This is a great way to discover new products without having to buy a large quantity.
You'll also be introduced to cheese makers you'll want to get to know much, much better. Trust me. Store reps said they'd also be open to hosting a cheese-of-the-month club, something I think they'd find an audience for in Germantown.
Since families are often looking for quick meal alternatives, Whole Foods offers a $20 Family Value meals, prepared foods you heat at home, like lasagna or enchiladas. Most of these also come with a salad and provide enough food to feed a family of four. While these weren't served, they'll be on our radar screen for future testing. Any takers?
The Loft, a community room with a view
A few other things worth mentioning include the Loft, a community room on the second floor where they expect to host yoga and safety classes. And their commitment to sustainability, which is reflected in the handsome tables you'll find under the front windows of the store. These were hand-crafted by a Memphis company from the trees that grew here before the store was built. I like that.
Whole Foods is entering a market that has seen a lot of grocery store activity of late. Sprouts Farmers Market, a grocery chain out of Arizona, opened in Germantown this summer, Kroger just completed a remodel, and Fresh Market has served customers for several years. With Whole Foods' new offerings, the competition just got interesting. Now, pass me another sushi burrito.