Opening Wednesday in Bellevue Square, 365 by Whole Foods Market aims to make healthy living easier for downtown office and mall workers, shoppers and local residents.
Located in the former JCPenney building, 365 by Whole Foods offers a full selection of products and prepared foods with the same quality standards as Whole Foods Markets. Reflecting its focus on convenience and value, nearly a third of the store is dedicated to grab-and-go foods, including two salad bars and two hot bars that feature flat pricing by container size. A godsend for anyone who’s ever piled a salad into the container and gotten a $20 surprise at check out.
Coffee drinkers can avoid the crazy line at the mall Starbucks and grab a latte at the Allegro Coffee Bus located at the front of the store or pick a cold brew from the refrigerated section — heads up, they carry Blue Bottle’s New Orleans style and their cold brew in a can.
Ready-to-cook items will also be available, including pre-seasoned meat and seafood, fresh pasta, and pre-prepped vegetables like spiralized zucchini and butternut squash zigzags.
In addition to grabbing a bite, you can also do a full shop, as the store offers over 7,000 items with the usual staples in bakery, dairy, frozen, produce and pantry. Vegan and vegetarian products are also represented. 365 by Whole Foods also offers beer, wine and spirits, with over 400 wines under $20. It looks like an ideal solution for downtown dwellers who just want to walk to the market or for mall and office workers who need to pick up a few things on the way home.
Tech is being used in several ways to encourage self-service and help drive down cost in-store. Shoppers can select and pay for a custom blended cup of tea using the TeaBOT, or order pizza, hot dogs or tacos from a self-serve kiosk. In the produce department, shoppers weigh their own produce and print out price stickers.
365 by Whole Foods is also partnered with Delectable and uses Banquet by Delectable kiosks in its beer and wine department to help shoppers make a selection. Rather than furiously Googling on your phone, scan the barcode on the bottle and get instant reviews and ratings from Delectable’s community.
While it characterizes its pricing as “everyday low prices,” the store offers additional savings through its My 365 Rewards program which features 10 percent off on end-cap items; special offers tailored to shoppers’ individual shopping habits; and a “buy 10, get 1 free” digital punchcard on items including rotisserie chicken, Organic Girl salad mixes and Driscoll’s berries.
Wild Ginger Kitchen, the Bellevue location’s in-store restaurant partner, will offer quick service Asian food in a café style setting and is slated to open in October.
365 by Whole Foods Bellevue is open daily from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. (from 9 a.m. on opening day); the Allegro Coffee Bus is open from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily.
VERDICT: From the tour I went on, it looks like it’s going to be fantastic for people who live or work downtown. I know I’ll be likely to stop in if I don’t need specialty items or service, or if I just have a craving for Blue Bottle cold brew. It also gives Bellevue Square some fresh, quicker food options, which it has needed for a long time. I’ll definitely check it out once its fully operational and report back.