Food Desert Oasis

Lower-price Whole Foods Market to open first store in East Austin

Lower-price Whole Foods Market to open first store in East Austin

Whole Foods 365 Plaza Saltillo
Whole Foods bringing first store to East Austin. Courtesy rendering

The East Austin food desert will become a little less dry next year when Whole Foods Market opens one of its lower-price 365 grocery stores in the Plaza Saltillo development.

The Austin-based grocer announced on February 13 that its first Whole Foods 365 store within the city of Austin will be at the corner of I-35 and East Fifth Street as part of the Plaza Saltillo mixed-use project. The store is expected to open sometime in 2019. The 365 concept is designed to be a lower-cost alternative to regular Whole Foods stores.

The 10-acre development will also feature apartments, offices, stores, and restaurants. Other notable tenants will include Ginger Man, Tarka Indian Kitchen, and Epoch Coffee. Work got underway last summer and is set to wrap up in 2019.

“We can’t wait to open this new Whole Foods Market 365 store on the east side,” says Jeff Turnas, president of Whole Foods Market 365, in a release. “At 365, customers will find familiar Whole Foods Market quality in an affordable, convenient and easy-to-shop new format, with plenty of fun surprises mixed in.”

Increasingly gentrified East Austin long has lacked grocery options, making it a food desert. The only major grocery store in the area is the H-E-B at East Seventh Street and Pleasant Valley Road. Royal Blue Grocery and La Michoacana Meat Market operate single locations in East Austin, but they’re far smaller than traditional grocery stores.

The Austin area’s first and only Whole Foods 365 debuted in April 2017 in Cedar Park. In all, Whole Foods operates seven 365 stores across the country.