A Morning at Whole Foods Phillips Crossing

Breakfast at Whole Foods Phillips Crossing Grand OpeningI awoke at 6am this morning to be down to the new Whole Foods Market store at Phillips Crossing here in Orlando. Located at the intersection of Sand Lake Rd and Turkey Lake Rd, it has prime visibility from several of Orlando’s most trafficked roads. It’s also not so fun trying to get into the parking lot during morning rush hour. My efforts were rewarded, though, in the form of a parking spot right near the front doors – “rock star parking” as my roommate likes to call it.

She wanted to be there early enough to partake in the advertised “free breakfast” that started at 8am. The store passed out several flavors of croissants, such as raisin and chocolate, along with coffee and your choice of pulp or no-pulp orange juice. Delicious it was…orderly it wasn’t. Even though we were only forty or so people back from the serving area, set up near the front doors, it was word of mouth that alerted us to the presence of the food. We then had to decide between saving our current place in the entrance line or stepping out into a second line to get our breakfast. My roommate and I took turns going, but since the two lines were right next to each other, it turned into a big glob of people near the entrance.

At 9am, Whole Foods opened the store with speeches and a ceremonial bread breaking, and we slowly filed in. In addition to the breakfast, the store had advertised free reusable bags to the first 250 people inside. Unfortunately, like the breakfast, it wasn’t clearly announced where to get the bags, so we were left to find them ourselves. Minor glitches, I guess. At least we were finally inside away from the growing heat and humidity of the day.

Inside Whole Foods Phillips Crossing during the Grand OpeningNow, I’ll admit…I’ve never visited a Whole Foods before, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. The company said this was the largest store in Florida to date, and it was indeed huge. Approximately 1/3 of the store is dedicated to the deli and prepared foods area. Set up like a huge buffet, trays and trays of already made foods ranging from the traditional chicken, mashed potatoes and vegetable medleys sat alongside more international fare like Asian noodle dishes and four kinds of lasagna. You could grab a quick slice of several varieties of pizza or take home a container of one of the over 15 types of soups and chilis. Vegan and vegetarian options co-existed with meat and seafood dishes, and as one who lives with food allergies, I appreciated that most had ingredients lists clearly posted.

Meat, dairy and seafood occupy the back aisle of the store, while a large produce section occupies the wall opposite the deli. In the center of the store, frozen, prepackaged and health and beauty offerings filled several rows of shelving. Maps of the entire store are handily placed near the doors so you can grab one and shop.

In fact, there was so much food to check out, it was a bit overwhelming, especially with the large crowd of people milling about. Thankfully, the sampling was plentiful this morning.

Gelato at Whole Foods Market Phillips CrossingI tried prosciutto, salami, three kinds of cheeses, vegan roasted red pepper soup, hummus made from edamame and another made from sweet potatoes, and organic pineapple, oranges and strawberries. I ate tender smoked beef brisket covered in a deliciously sweet, not too-smoky BBQ sauce that actually had me sucking my fingers. My sweet tooth enjoyed fresh coconut and mango gelato, several flavors of cookies and more pastry nibbles from the bakery. And I washed it down with samples of Rainforest Crunch coffee and a health drink made from almond soy milk and a chocolate-flavored greens-infused protein powder (actually not too bad, but it would have been better if it was mixed together more).

Considering the fact that Whole Foods sells organic foods and prepares its precooked offerings in-house, the prices were very reasonable. Most pre-made offerings were priced between $7.99 and $9.99 a pound, with soups/chilis starting at $3.95 a container. Prepackaged items were competitively priced with other supermarkets I’ve visited around town. And I was excited to find that they do take coupons (hey, these days, that extra 50 cents or so can really help when multiplied by several coupons).

Will I go back to this store? Definitely, though I might wait a week or two for the opening crowds to thin out a bit so I can peruse at my leisure. But if you want to check out the store this week, our previous post lists all the special events that will still be happening through this weekend.

Have you been to the store yet? What did you think?

1 Comment so far

  1. rhon on June 26th, 2008 @ 1:14 pm

    I was also at this event and had a great time. The free bag was full of lots of free samples, full size and sample size. I found waiting outside was worth every minute once I got inside. True, the breakfast and free bag lines were a bit unorganized, but I found both with little trouble. Everything I tried was delicious. I’m going back for brisket and gelato today! If you haven’t been, go! Especially if you’re a foodie…free samples of prosciutto de parma that melts in your mouth! yummy!!

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