Food + Dining Main

Whole Foods, Food & Thought, Other Grocery Stores Get Upgrades

BY June 27, 2017

Pop quiz: Do you love shopping for food? If you hesitated, chances are it may have something to do with where you spend your time. Farmers market trips bring joy, but you likely have to put up with weekly visits to feng-shui-deprived, windowless caverns for the essentials. But several Southwest Florida stores are looking to change that—and some already have or are fast-approaching their goals.

Whole Foods Market

The anchor store in Naples’ Mercato has always benefitted from better design; with vaulted ceilings and natural light galore, it’s an aisle browser’s haven. The store rolls out tweaks frequently, such as new outdoor furniture a year ago and valet parking last season, but it’s going under the knife—a face-lift is set to debut in stages throughout the coming months. A newer, larger juice bar and coffee shop, along with a table-service restaurant called High Tide Bar & Grill, are the biggest pieces of the puzzle included in the overall refreshing.

About 20 miles due north, on Daniels Parkway, ground was broken in April to welcome Fort Myers’ first Whole Foods Market. Customers can expect a similarly airy space with top-of-the-line fixtures and features when it opens in 2018.

Ada’s Natural Market

Nearby, another organic emporium has made its own headway. Aside from launching the Green Leaf Grill at the brand-new Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida, the original Ada’s location has been shaking things up. It added a display area with a unique grab-and-go meal concept (a rotating posted menu gives the current cooler selections; $10 includes an entrée with two mix-and-match sides). It has also added a sampling station; expanded its olive bar and healthy baked goods offerings; and scheduled free monthly wellness seminars for next season.

Food & Thought

Fans of Alfie Oakes’s 100 percent organic grocery store and café have noticed gradual improvements in the past year, like the construction of a second indoor seating area and the redesign of the café’s ordering bay. It’s hard not to admire the constant force of positive change (just a few weeks ago, colorful children’s furniture debuted for its tiniest devotees.) A long-announced expansion is also in the works, which will increase the size of the grocery store and relocate the juice bar in the coming year. But all of this is frankly small peanuts compared to the other endeavor the Oakeses are about to bite off.

Seed to Table

The Oakes team is actively working on this market, which is unlike any we’ve seen here. It’s under construction on Immokalee Road near Livingston Road. “We traveled the country two years ago, and we took concepts from 100-plus stores and blended it into one,” says Steve Veneziano, VP of sales and operations for Oakes Farms. “We expect to have the biggest fresh produce, meat and seafood departments in all of Collier County, along with the third-largest commercial kitchen—second only to the Marco Island Marriott and The Ritz-Carlton.”

It was originally expected to launch in October, but they are taking time to execute their vision just right and now working toward an October 2018 opening. Although Seed to Table will have a Food & Thought II café and many organic products, the store itself won’t be strictly organic. It will, however, have plenty of specialty items. Veneziano says you won’t find AA batteries or Fruit Loops, but you will see exotic fig jams and the like within the store: A cheesemonger may be peddling freshly made offerings next door to an ice creamery churning out proprietary sweet treats—with plenty of tables to sit and enjoy before taking some home.


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