What’s in store for the flagship Whole Foods store at North Lamar Boulevard and West Sixth Street? The Austin-based natural and organic food retailer is giving CultureMap Austin an exclusive sneak peek at what the store will look like when the ongoing renovation is complete.
This is the first major makeover for the 80,000-square-foot store since it opened in 2005. Here are some tasty tidbits about the redo, which started August 1 and is set to finish this fall.
The taco bar will move next to the current Beans, Greens and Grains venue (what many of us would call the salad bar), taking the place of some of the current beverage wall, according to Whole Foods spokeswoman Rachel Malish. A beverage area will be set up near the entrance where the coffee bar currently stands.
The revamped taco bar will feature three electronic tablets for placing orders. Across from the taco bar, two large screens will display where each guest falls in the ordering queue.
“This will give guests an idea of whether their taco will be ready immediately, or whether they have time to grab a beverage while their order is made,” Malish said. “Below those screens, we’ll have a salsa station for topping off the tacos.”
A “build your own stir fry” bar will be tacked onto the Beans, Greens and Grains area. “The stir-fry bar will allow you to pick the items you’d like to stir fry, and bring them to the venue to be prepared on the spot,” Malish said.
Pho will be also be a new menu option at the stir-fry bar.
The coffee bar and juice bar will switch places, with the juice bar taking over much of the space where the taco bar is now, Malish said. The new beverage wall adjacent to the juice bar will offer cold-pressed juices.
Two Italian-made La Marzocco Strada MP espresso machines will be installed at the coffee bar. The Lamar store will be only the third Whole Foods location in the Southwest to get these machines, according to Malish.
Jessica Keenan, Whole Foods’ coffee coordinator for the Southwest, explained how these machines work.
“The Strada MP machines are considered semiautomatic, meaning that the team member controls the time the water flows and hand-builds the beverage layer by layer,” Keenan said. “The machines feature a manual paddle on each group head, allowing the team member to control the pressure and water flow to the espresso. This enables us to finesse the creation of the beverage while factoring in outside elements such as barometric pressure.”
Relocating the Kikka Sushi bar will make room for seating and put it closer to the seafood department, according to Malish.
Italian food bar
The store’s Italian venue, the Trattoria, will be married with and shifted to the existing pizza area, which sits next to the prepared-foods department. “Guests can look forward to new authentic Italian dishes joining the menu,” Malish said.