New details on Whole Foods’ Old Town in-store restaurant expansion

New details on Whole Foods’ Old Town in-store restaurant expansion
Whole Foods has been making efforts to lure shoppers back in recent years (Photo Credit/Whole Foods Market)

By Alexa Epitropoulos |

Revisions for the planned restaurant at Whole Foods’ Old Town location, including extended hours and liquor by the glass, was approved by city council at its April 22 public hearing.

The long-in-the-works expansion of the upscale, organic grocery store’s café area – which is now made up of about 12 stools around a coffee and wine bar – when completed will include a 151-seat restaurant, with 55 bar seats, 76 café seats and 20 patio seats.

Patrons are already able to buy food and drinks to consume on the premises. In addition, customers are currently able to buy beer or wine at the café area and purchase and refill growlers.

Whole Foods plans to keep its restaurant open until 11 p.m. during the week and until midnight on Saturday.

Cathy Puskar, the attorney representing Whole Foods at the public hearing, indicated that residents of the surrounding Carlyle neighborhood have brought up some concerns about the expansion of the grocery store’s restaurant area, as well as the frequency of store deliveries.

“We’re not perfect,” Puskar said at the meeting. “It’s a big store and it receives a high volume [of shipments], but we do try to be good neighbors.”

The expansion of the restaurant area at the 4,300-square-foot store on Duke Street, which has been open since 2004, is part of a company-wide effort to entice customers at a time when its image is still in recovery mode. Most recently, the store has faced criticism for being too expensive, which has caused sales at stores to decrease in comparison to similar periods in years past.

In response, Whole Foods has focused on reducing prices, launching a lower-cost grocery franchise and adding amenities for shoppers, including restaurants, coffee bars and even recreational amenities like billiards.

A timeline for the expansion of the restaurant area isn’t clear and a call to the location’s manager wasn’t returned.