The flagship Whole Foods location is a perfect place for picking up an amazing variety of tasty to-go food or dining in on your lunch break. has a sushi and seafood restaurant; ramen station; barbecue venue; rows of salad and hot-foods buffets; pizza, burrito, and taco areas; made-to-order sandwiches; and a juice and smoothie operation.
What everyone knows
This Whole Foods store is the company’s global flagship location.
What they don't tell you
Random fact for ya! When John & Renee opened their SaferWay store, they actually lived at the store after being evicted from their apartment for storing food products.
Do it like a local
Whether you are looking to get some organic and fresh groceries, or you wanna pick up a convenient yet tasty meal to-go, I recommend you acquaint yourself with this WF location. While you’re there, you might as well join the masses of others who take a selfie with the oversized ATX sign! It makes a great social media pic!
For the History Buffs
The global flagship store of Whole Foods couldn’t have picked a better city that mirrors its health consciousness, vibe, trendiness, and growth since its original location started a few blocks away, thirty years ago.
The story begins when John Mackey and his girlfriend-slash-business-partner Renee Lawson borrowed $45,000 from family and friends and opened a small vegetarian food market named SaferWay Natural Foods (which was a spoof of rival grocer Safeway). They sold their goods out of an old Victorian house in Austin, in 1978.
Two years later, they partnered with Craig Weller and Mark Skiles to merge SaferWay with Clarksville Natural Grocery, resulting in the opening of the original Whole Foods Market in 1980. It was 10,500 sq. ft., and had 19 members on their staff. One year later, all their inventory and equipment were ruined & damaged when their building was rampaged by Austin’s most devastating flood in 70 years. With no insurance and $400,000 in damages, their store was reopened only four weeks later.
Since then, WF expanded to Houston, Dallas, New Orleans, and on the west coast in Palo Alto, CA. Along with these new stores, the company fueled rapid growth by acquiring other natural foods chains from all over the U.S. throughout the 1990s. In early 1992, the company made its first initial public offering. The company started its third decade with additional acquisitions and it was reported that Whole Foods had cleared $188 million in profits in 2004.
Which leads us to Whole Foods opening a 80,000 sq. ft. behemoth of a store in 2005, a few blocks south of their original location which is now a Goodwill store. The company's headquarters moved into offices above. In addition to having very high standards of produce & products, this flagship store also provides complete catering and event planning services along with culinary classes.
I love that WF partners with its buyers to decide what products should be sold.
In addition, they work as consultants to ranchers and farmers on a range of issues including animal welfare, and develop category standards for everything in the store — from produce and seafood, to cleaning and body-care products.
WF bans 75 ingredients in food. You will not find artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners, or preservatives in their products. Nor will you find bleached or bromated flour, high-fructose corn syrup, nor hydrogenated fats. This way customers, such as myself, know that organic means organic — no matter where we are standing in the store.
Their standards team has visited 250 farms all over the United States and Canada to work with farmers develop standards. From cage-free, pasture-raised eggs to sustainably caught canned tuna, consumers can feel confident about the selection of food items on WF’s shelves.
In June 2017, Amazon purchased Whole Foods Market for $13.7 Billion
Whole Foods is a certified organic retailer and has been since 2003, the first year that distinction was available by the United States Department of Agriculture. No other national grocer possesses this distinction.
In addition to their in-house barbecue joint called Bowie BBQ (which serves sliced beef brisket, chicken, pulled pork, pork ribs, and sausage) my favorite section of the flagship store is their cheese dept. With four certified cheese professionals and 700 varieties of cheese, you are bound to find exactly what you are looking for. Furthermore, like other departments in WF, the knowledgeable staff members will get you a sample of anything for you to taste. Yes, that’s right! They will cut the cheese! My fave is the Locatelli Pecorino Romano cheese!
If you are looking for a rare bottle of wine or obscure six pack of your favorite IPA, no worries! Chances are you will be able to find it here. Their alcohol selection is very large and impressive.
This flagship WF store is so trendy, people come to its location NOT to shop, but rather ice skate atop its roof on the rink made of real ice. Yes! You can relive your childhood memories or introduce your own children to this strange, frozen substance we don’t see much of in Austin. However, this fun activity is only a seasonal event.
Others flock to the flagship location to take a selfie with its artistic, colorful, and very large ATX sculpture at the northeast corner of Fifth Street and North Lamar Boulevard. This rainbow-striped steel-and-aluminum structure is made for all types of weather and human interactions, so people are encouraged to sit, climb, and stand on the piece to get the perfect shot. It even lights up at night cycling through different colors. more deets here
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