(above): Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl, Ald. Jane Grover, and Whole Foods staff break bread, a company tradition, at the grand opening of the new store at 2748 Green Bay Rd.
A crowd of several hundred queued up before 9 AM today, to the accompaniment of speeches, free coffee from a vintage bus, and a rock band, for the grand opening of the newest Whole Foods grocery. While some were no doubt drawn by the offer of gift cards and free samples, the store, for many others, helps fill a void left when the Dominick's chain shuttered its longstanding store on the same location at 2748 N. Green Bay Rd. two years ago. That closing benefited the Jewel in Wilmette just under a half-mile north, but left the community, albeit served by some nice small stores such as Foodstuffs or Fresh Foods, without a single large full-service grocery in Evanston north of Emerson.
The newest Whole Foods is a stunning state-of-the-art store that will no doubt attract shoppers from a wide area. Larger than the chain's other two Evanston stores (on Chicago Avenue) combined, the Green Bay store not only showcases the familiar Whole Foods offerings of organic and natural foods and household items, but features a wine bar (above), and a cafe that doubles as a taproom featuring a large selection of craft beers. City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz believes that the Evanston store, said by some to have cost $5 million to construct, incorporated virtually every possible bell and whistle featured anywhere in the Whole Foods family.