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When the clings come down from the massive windows enclosing the forthcoming Whole Foods Market Union Station, Denverites and train travelers are in for a surprise: This store is practically a restaurant. Or rather, several restaurants and myriad grab-and-go options under one roof. 5280 got a behind-the-scenes peek at the urban-centric design of the space, which is meant to satisfy every craving and marketable need of LoDo residents, commuters, and visitors. Here’s a taste of what’s coming on November 15:
- The store’s prepared foods and restaurant area is a whopping 28% larger than most other Whole Foods in city centers, based on the assumption that Denverites will want to grab fast-casual options as much as they’ll want to shop for groceries and cook at home.
- Dining and take-out options include everything your hungry little heart desires, from noodle, poke, and rice bowls to a DIY mac-and-cheese bar; from a Chipotle-style salad chopper station for salads assembled (and chopped) as you watch to overnight oats with your choice of toppings, in both dairy and vegan versions; and Tel Aviv Street Food, which portends a significant increase in pita sandwich-related weight gain by anyone regularly in the vicinity.
- There’s going to be a lot of chicken. Not only will the prepared foods section offer whole rotisserie chickens with sides to go, they’ll also feature fried chicken skillets using Boulder Natural Meats poultry. In fact, Whole Foods partnered with Boulder Natural to breed a hybrid Colorado Red chicken that flourishes in cold weather and at our elevation. Birdcall will also have a dine-in outpost with nano doors that open onto a patio area, 20 local beers on tap, street art by local Mike Graves, and a new jerk chicken sandwich (among other items), too.
- The bakery will have eight exclusive Füdmill foccaccia flavors (from banana-chocolate-hazelnut to potato-pancetta-sour cream) as well as colorful French macarons, a grab-and-go mochi ice cream case, and the typical decorated cakes, cookies, and breads.
- An artisan cheese station will stand adjacent to the prepared foods section and, to the delight of dairy lovers, will include a 100-pound cheese tower that American Cheese Society certified cheese professionals will cut to order.
- There will be more than 1,100 local products on the shelves, from Rowdy Mermaid kombucha and Capello’s gluten- and grain-free pastas, pizzas, and cookie dough to Women’s Bean Project soup and baking mixes and the Honest Stand vegan “cheese” dips. #locallove
- Comal Heritage Food Incubator is in talks with the market to establish a pop-up featuring its Latin American and Syrian fare.
- The butchery program, which is inspired by Denver’s meat- and sports-loving population, is going to be extensive. It will offer bacon and sausages made with duck and other game, flavored with A.D. Laws’ whiskey. There’ll be a dry-aging program, whole-animal butchery inside a glass-walled room complete with a viewing rail, and a full-time pit boss smoking pork, brisket, and seafood.
- The Whole Body area will feature a Pacha Soap Co. test boutique, with full-time staff on hand to help create gift baskets and offer test products in the form of bath bombs, bath salt blends, lotions, and more. (This has nothing to do with food, of course, but it’s still cool to know!)
- Allegro Coffee Roasters will have a dedicated area, and there’s going to be a cold-press juice bar with 12 taps for creating your own combos. Sparkling shrubs and smoothies are also on the menu. Stadium seating is adjacent so you can take a load off and enjoy your juice while people watching at the double-sided super-express checkout lines.
- There’s free parking! If you don’t live or work within walking distance, there will be 165 free parking spots for you, as long as you don’t stay longer than two hours. And because it’s Denver, there will be bike racks and a repair station, a built-in car share drop off zone on the Chestnut Street side of the store, and 75 Amazon lockers, too.
- The store opens at 8:45 a.m. on November 15, and it’s going to be a party. Mile High Pedicabs will be on hand to provide free rides to and from the new store, picking up and dropping off from multiple points in LoDo between 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.—look for drivers wearing green Whole Foods Market t-shirts—and handing out free snacks and coupons during rides. There will be a prize wheel awarding gift cards, swag, samples, and local restaurant gift cards; live music; tastes of an exclusive, award-winning beer from Breckenridge Brewery at Birdcall; and a Pike’s Place-style seafood market from 10 a.m. until 7 p.m. on both opening day and Saturday, November 18, from which shoppers can select fresh-cut tuna steaks, live lobsters, and more at promo prices. And best of all, Denver Public Schools Food & Nutrition program will receive 5 percent of opening day sales.
1701 Wewatta St., 720-572-8800