When the Chambers Bay Whole Foods Market opens Thursday in University Place, it won’t be just a place to shop for food, it’ll be among the biggest restaurants in that city.
Well, technically anyway. With 100 seats, it outpaces most of the competition, but those seats at Whole Foods are divided among several in-store dining areas.
It easily will be the fussiest food court in the region. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Even school kids these days are demanding to know the origin of school cafeteria chicken (it’s probably best not to ask).
As with the store’s grocery areas, the prepared-food mantra aligns with the company’s food edict that eschews all artificial flavors, colors and sweeteners. What does that mean, exactly? No Diet Coke. I repeat. No Diet Coke in the store. Or anything that has artificial flavors, colors or sweeteners.
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The oil in the fryer is non-genetically modified organism. The eggs used in the bakery are cage-free. The salad bar will focus on organic vegetables.
The store will boast something other Northwest Whole Foods locations don’t have: a wood-fired pizza restaurant called The Lumberyard. The restaurant will serve local brews and a variety of pizza-by-the-slice or whole pies.
Other in-store dining options include cooking stations with all kinds of food: A sandwich deli, a taco bar, salad and soup bars, a hot foods bar, a fish-fry counter and a bakery with ready-to-eat items.
There will be a small army of cooks preparing that food, too. David Hulbert, regional marketing coordinator for Whole Foods Market, said the culinary crew at Whole Foods Market will be almost 70 strong. That includes a chef overseeing 56 cooks preparing pizza and working in the prepared food areas, and a head baker overseeing 12 bakery workers and a full-time cake decorator.
Here’s a look at all those in-store dining options:
The Lumberyard: This 29-seat restaurant will offer fast-casual dining of wood-fired pizza, with bar seating for a dozen. Order at the counter, take a seat with your beer and/or pizza fresh from the oven that’s fueled by applewood. (The oven is plumbed for gas to start the oven, but pies are baked using wood.) Hulbert described a Northwest decor with rough-hewn logs and metal accents. “We’ll be cooking 10 types of pizza. Those are available at the front for take away, or you can sit down after you order,” he said. Pizzas ordered at the counter will be freshly made.
The restaurant will have 10 beer taps, with three representing South Sound brewers. A black currant saison from Tacoma’s Wingman Brewers will be on the opening tap list, as will the Diver Down IPA from Narrows Brewing. Also, find the English-style IPA from 7 Seas that was created by the Gig Harbor brewery and the store’s team leaders. Happy hour will be 3-6 p.m. Monday-Friday with $1 off pints.
Fish-fry counter: Order any fresh fish at the seafood counter and a counter worker will dunk it into a batter made with the Narrows Diver Down IPA. Fresh-fried fish can be anything a shopper wants, whether that’s a fresh piece of halibut, scallops or shrimp. The seafood counter also has an in-house smoker, which means that fresh-smoked salmon, scallops and other seafood can be consumed on-site or taken home.
Soup and salad: The soup bar has room for 10 house-made soups. Hulbert described a salad bar of all-organic produce that “will be the largest in the area.”
Juice and smoothie bar: In the front north corner will be a juice and smoothie bar that will have cold-pressed juice.
Hot bar: The themes will rotate for this prepared-dish bar with heated food ready to eat. The theme might meander from Indian cuisine to hearty holiday dishes later this year. The opening lineup will cycle through Asian-themed food based on the paleo diet, American comfort dishes, and Indian and Spanish cuisine.
Asian bar: Everything from sushi that’s rolled daily to classic American-Chinese, such as orange chicken, and noodle bowls.
Sandwich bar: Organic breads and deli meat that are preservative- and nitrate-free.
Taco bar: Street tacos, burritos and taco salads.
Bakery: A bagel bar, featuring bagels made by Seattle’s Best, will be available with a variety of schmears.
Cooking classes: The store won’t open with classes, but will eventually offer those.