AUSTIN, Texas (February 22, 2005) Whole Foods Market® (Nasdaq: WFMI), the world's leading natural and organic foods supermarket, will celebrate the grand opening of its Austin landmark store and world headquarters on March 3. The opening coincides with the Austin-born company's 25th anniversary year. Even more than any other Whole Foods Market location, this landmark store represents a fresh and often surprising approach to the grocery shopping experience — as cooking demonstrations, food sampling, sit-down dining and takeout selections mingle with thousands of fresh and all natural ingredients in every department.

Located just blocks from where Whole Foods Market began as a small neighborhood grocer 25 years ago, the new store at the corner of Sixth Street and Lamar Boulevard is the company's largest, at 80,000 square feet. Though much larger in size, the store retains the charm and accessibility of its first location, with an intimate, village-style layout and passionate, attentive Team Members eager to assist guests.

“To put this store in perspective, every department features more variety than you'd find in a stand-alone specialty shop – but with products free of artificial additives, sweeteners, colorings, preservatives and hydrogenated oils,” notes Whole Foods Market CEO John Mackey. “We're proud to offer such a world-class customer experience to our hometown Austin shoppers, who've been loyal to us from the beginning. Whole Foods Market is committed to the goal of being, not only the best natural foods store, but the finest food retailer in every community we serve.”

Before shoppers even enter the new Lamar store, they will be greeted by the bright colors of the Market Hall, reminiscent of an outdoor farmer's market, with its extensive array of local products and the freshest seasonal fruits, vegetables and flowers. Just inside, nestled near the hand-stacked organic produce, is Lamar Street Greens, a sit-down dining area where customers can enjoy made-to-order salads and sip a glass of wine as they watch the chef at work.

Seafood can be described in one word — theater — with more than 150 fresh seafood items and on-the-spot shucking, cooking, smoking, slicing and frying to order. You may be reminded of the excitement of Seattle's famous Pike Place Market when you see the trained fishmongers pitching whole fresh fish to each other. In addition, natural and organic meats will be aged on site, and an in-house smoker will prepare ready-to-go items and special orders. There's more fun at Candy Island, a sweet tooth's paradise, which will tempt with treats from toffee and fudge to handmade lollipops, popcorn balls, and a chocolate fountain for enrobing fresh and dried fruit. A Hot Nut Bar will be stocked with fresh nuts daily from an in-house nut roaster, and the World Foods section will feature the best pre-packaged and to-go items from Brazil to India for shoppers who crave exotic flavors.

This marriage of food and fun continues at dine-in eateries sprinkled throughout the store, all dishing up freshly prepared, restaurant-quality salads, seafood, sushi, pasta, and desserts. Additional takeout counters will offer noodle bowls, satays, stir fries, “living foods” and fresh squeezed juices.

“Our Team Members have tasted their way around the world to bring the most authentic flavors to our new Whole Foods Market,” says Whole Foods Market Southwest Regional Vice President Bruce Silverman. “Our focus on ethnic cuisine, combined with our respect for and support of Texas products from the best local food artisans and growers, will ensure that our guests can explore countless new ideas in food.”

A Snapshot of Variety: By the Numbers

  • 1,800 wines, with suggested food pairings and tasting flights
  • More than 800 beer selections in a walk-in beer cooler
  • More than 600 of the world's best varieties of fresh, soft, hard-ripened, artisan and aged cheeses
  • 70 cuts of fresh meat prepared in house, 32 varieties of fresh-made sausage and more than 50 chef-prepared, oven-ready selections
  • 50 fresh-baked hearth breads available every day
  • 40 varieties of stuffed and marinated olives, capers and other antipasto
  • 18 flavors of handmade gelato, with flavors ranging from vanilla orange fig to chocolate chipotle
  • 14 pastry chefs concocting creations from baked Alaska to apple pie ? la mode

In addition to raising the bar on culinary offerings, the Whole Foods Market landmark store features a Whole Body section of natural and organic body care and cosmetics, where customers can sample new lotions and other body care products or consult with Team Members on an expanded selection of fitness products and supplements. Organic cotton apparel for adults and kids will be featured in the Natural Home section, alongside such home necessities as linens and towels. Whole Baby completes the store's lifestyle area, with baby food, diapers, shampoo and other needs placed together to make shopping easier for (and with) small children.

Anchoring a Downtown Revitalization

Whole Foods Market's landmark store will be a major fixture in Austin's growing downtown economy. The store will serve as a key community gathering spot. It features a 25,000-square-foot roof garden and plaza with 200 shaded seats, a space for entertainers, a playscape, flowing stream, native landscaping and prime city views.

“Austinites value authenticity, innovation and a commitment to cultivating a unique culture,” says Austin Mayor Will Wynn. “Whole Foods Market embodies all these attributes, and we're honored one of our city's greatest success stories is coming full circle to provide our residents with experiences they can't find anywhere else in the world.”

Keeping with the trend of growing up rather than out, the store offers 900 parking spots with three levels of underground parking to shelter shoppers in any weather. A special moving sidewalk will carry shopping carts from the store down to the garage, or a complimentary Grocery Valet will allow Team Members to deliver bags efficiently right to customers' cars as they exit the garage.

The new building also includes Whole Foods Market's new world headquarters, a six-story, 200,000-square-foot tower above the store, with office space for up to 500 Team Members.