NEW YORK (March 16, 2005). Whole Foods Market, the world's leading natural and organic supermarket and America's first national certified organic grocer, opened its third market in Manhattan at 4 Union Square South this morning, Wednesday, March 16 at 8 a.m. As the 169th store Union Square store exemplifies the Whole Foods Market's quality standards, environmental commitment and outstanding customer service. The three-story Whole Foods Market store overlooking historic Union Square Park combines cutting-edge downtown design with the most flavorful, natural and organic foods for a premier contemporary shopping experience.

“With the spacious layout and exciting features like the grilling station and expanded International selections and the café overlooking the park, this store along with our other Manhattan locations has transformed grocery shopping from a chore in to one of New Yorkers' favorite pastimes,” said David Lannon, president of Whole Foods Market's North Atlantic. “We are thrilled to be an integral part of this vibrant community of students, professionals, trendsetters and families, as well as the numerous growers and purveyors of some of New York's finest products.” Spanning more than 50,000 square feet, the new Whole Foods Market was designed with an edgy flair including flat screen paneled menus and an abstract chandelier created especially for the Union Square store. Shoppers start their journey downstairs on the “Market Level” to select the highest quality fruits and vegetables, a wide variety of groceries, health and beauty products, pristine seafood and all-natural meats. The butcher shop will provide a wide selection of prime meats and poultry raised to Whole Foods Market's strict natural meat standards, raised free of antibiotics and added hormones, never fed animal by-products and minimally processed. A 38-foot seafood case features fresh fish and seafood, raised by ecologically responsible purveyors. Navigating to “Street Level” will be easy with the store is equipped with a special shopping cart escalator. There, restaurant quality-prepared foods await shoppers along with a bakery and a grilling station. There are 38 registers for fast checkout. Another highlight of the three-story supermarket is its “Picnic Area” with its spacious 116-seat café with fresh juice bar and a spectacular park view.

At the 'Almost-Open Party' Monday night that benefited the Union Square Partnership, more than a thousand people previewed the new store, sampling dozens of the fine products available at Whole Foods Market. Also on hand for the event was celebrity chef Mario Batali, who premiered his own line of innovative, natural and authentic Italian take-out products, including make your own Pizza Kits and fresh Salsa Cruda that will be available exclusively at Whole Foods Market. Through donations, more than $110,000 was raised for the campaign to revitalize and complete Union Square Park, including a matching gift of $50,000 from Whole Foods Market. Also donating funds were Urban Space Management and the GabbeGroup, which contributed $10,000 each, as well as, Con Edison, which gave $25,000.

“We have been eagerly anticipating this store to open as it certainly will be a significant contribution to the community,” said Karen H. Shaw, Executive Director of Union Square Partnership. “The new Whole Foods Market store will be a great force in driving traffic to the area and further enhancing Union Square as a destination spot, and will also provide the neighborhood with a wonderful gathering place.” Whole Body™ at Whole Foods Market will offer the city's largest selection of luxurious natural and organic body care items and cosmetics, as well as unadulterated nutritional supplements and vitamins. Customers will be able to enjoy a make-up station where they will be able to test selected products and take home samples. All products at Whole Body are made with the highest quality natural ingredients and are free of harsh chemicals and unnecessary fillers.

In addition to the unrivalled selection of organically grown produce, all-natural and organic meats, and fresh artisanal cheeses for which Whole Foods Market is known, the Union Square store has put special emphasis on locally made New York offerings and on greatly expanding the range of exotic, international offerings. A special Made in New York program boasts local and seasonal products, including some from the Greenmarket farmer's market and other popular New York purveyors such as Ronnybrook, Peanut Butter & Co., Rick's Picks, Yancey's Fancy and many more. The 28-foot International Section spans the globe featuring an unrivalled variety of products, including Lebanese fig jam, preserved lemons from Morocco, Indian curries, Thai rice, stuffed grape leaves from Greece and goulash from Hungary. The prepared foods section will highlight its Grilling Station where shoppers can enjoy grilled-to-order dishes such as Swordfish in Red Pepper Romesco Sauce and Steak with Rich Mushroom Demi Glace.

The Whole Foods Market Gluten-Free Bakehouse offers the largest selection of gluten-free products anywhere with more than 27 delicious baked goods catering specifically to the growing population of Americans with special dietary needs. The Union Square store also features freshly made, all-natural “Whole Meals” like Chicken Parmesan with Penne, Turkey Dinner with all the fixins', Grilled Salmon, Vegetarian specials and more — perfect healthy options for the area's numerous college students. Plus, all products at Whole Foods Market are free of artificial additives, preservatives, sweeteners, colorings and flavors and hydrogenated oils.

“We are very excited about becoming part of this dynamic downtown community,” said Otto Leuschel, Whole Foods Market store team leader. “We look forward to meeting our new customers — from the true foodies looking to prepare a gourmet meal to the college student in search of that quick, delicious and healthy bite in a fun and welcoming setting.”