Talk of the Town: Whole Foods Tour

By: Andrea Tam

After its highly anticipated grand opening on September 25, the Whole Foods in Fremont continues to reel in a steady influx of customers, joining a chain of other Bay Area Whole Foods stores in Palo Alto, Los Altos, Cupertino, and Campbell.  Besides the fact that parking is inadequate for the substantial crowds, there is hardly anything bad to say about this new supermarket.

Despite being one of the smaller locations, the Fremont Whole Foods still manages to seem spacious, open, and uncluttered. The interior is well-lit, with large windows that allow ample sunlight to stream through. In addition, the new supermarket is decked out in a color story of teals, crimsons, warm yellows, and natural wood accents, giving this location a vibrant and contemporary appearance.

Not unexpectedly, the Fremont location maintains the Whole Foods standard of quality, service, and cleanliness, which, compared to other supermarket chains, is exceptional.  Pricing is also standard for Whole Foods, leaning toward the expensive end of the price spectrum; however, this is completely compensated for by the excellence of the products and shopping experience.  The supermarket layout is also extremely similar; a side of the market is dedicated to prepared foods and the other to an extensive array of baked goods, cheese, organic produce, meat, poultry, and seafood.

So what’s different about Fremont’s Whole Foods?  Starting with the smaller changes, juices and dairy products are now stored behind glass doors instead of simply on refrigerated shelves.  Compared with other locations’ Whole Foods, there is also a significantly larger tea and coffee café, as well as a larger dining area decorated with an unusual wall of blue and white China plates.  In addition, Fremont’s Whole Foods has an alcove lit with silver cut-out lamps, complete with stools and low tables as a resting or waiting place for customers.  The cheese selections and salad bar are also larger in comparison to other supermarkets.

But the best part is that it embraces Fremont’s ethnic diversity.  Fremont’s Whole Foods features a particularly wide range of multicultural foods in its international aisle, including ramen, pho, tempura mix, Thai food, Indonesian food, Indian curry, couscous, and risotto, to name a few.  The prepared food stops that appeal to the cultural variety of Fremont draw scores of customers at lunch and dinnertime.  Two standouts are the wok station and dosa station, which cannot be found in many of the other Bay Area Whole Foods.  Employee Dionn McGill said, “There are a lot of ethnicities and cultures in Fremont, and [Whole Foods] brings the whole community together.”

How does the Fremont Whole Foods compare to other stores in the area?  Price-wise, it is the most expensive by far.  For instance, a Whole Foods rack of lamb costs $19.99 per pound while a Costco rack sells for $10.91.  This price difference may seem alarming at first.  However, The Smoke Signal has tried and tasted and concluded that the reason Whole Foods is so much more expensive is because of its superior quality and taste.

Placing Whole Foods side by side with other natural grocery stores like Trader Joe’s and Sprouts Farmers Market, Whole Foods has the most extensive selections of produce, meats, cheeses, and other foods.  Also, Whole Foods has a butcher and a cheese specialist.  Sprouts lacks the cheese specialist and Trader Joe’s lacks both.  Furthermore, though Trader Joe’s has a little taste-testing booth and Sprouts has a soup and olive bar, neither has prepared foods that match the range offered at Whole Foods.    It has buffet bars and little delis, bakeries, cafés, foreign food stops.  It even has resting and dining areas.  Whole Foods creates a whole new grocery shopping and eating experience that sets it apart from any other supermarket in Fremont.

And now for the most important question: What about the food?  The Smoke Signal can safely say that it is mighty good.  The meats are tender and succulent.  Their fruit is crisp and sweet.  Their vegetables are so fresh and tasty even a picky eater would fall in love with the spinach.  The baked goods section is a feast for the eyes and the taste buds.  Yes, there are some disappointments, including the overly-pungent lemon meringue tart, as well as the heavy, filling cheesecake.  Overall, however, there is great variety, and there is something for everyone.  Though expensive (2 for $4 or $2.50 each), their macaroons are scrumptious, especially the vanilla-flavored ones.  The carrot-flavored cookies are unique, yummy, and very in-season.

With Fremont’s Whole Foods’s features and good vibes, it is sure to remain a supermarket and eatery hub for locals.  After all, who doesn’t love a shiny new organic supermarket?

Rating: 4.5/5

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