AUSTIN, Texas (December 1, 2004) On Wednesday, December 8, Whole Foods Market®, the world's leading natural and organic foods supermarket, will open its first store in downtown Sarasota at First Street and Lemon Avenue, making it the company's seventh store in Florida. Known for its high quality standards combined with outstanding customer service Whole Foods Market will provide an unequaled shopping experience in Sarasota in the company's first-ever environmentally-friendly supermarket designed based on the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Green Building Rating System® which promotes buildings that are environmentally responsible, profitable and healthy places to live and work.

“Our number one goal is to provide the Sarasota community with great tasting, fresh foods in a contemporary, easy-to-shop store and to appeal to all customers including health-conscious individuals and families, people on the go, and aspiring gourmets,” said Shanti Walls, store team leader. “We look forward to welcoming our customers into our first Whole Foods Market designed and constructed to be energy efficient and to meet a number of other stringent LEED rating standards to ensure we are indeed a 'green' building.”

Casto Lifestyle Properties created the pedestrian-friendly, residentially oriented downtown development in which the new 36,000 square foot, full-service supermarket will be located. The 11-story, mixed-use area, named Whole Foods Market Centre, will include additional retail space and 95 residences on the site of the former Palmer Bank drive-through facility. The store will employ approximately 150 Team Members.

Since 1980, Whole Foods Market has helped pioneer the organic and natural foods movement-bringing high quality products to the general consumer in an educational, exciting and enticing way. All products meet Whole Foods Market's strict quality standards to ensure they are free from artificial additives, colorings, flavorings, preservatives and hydrogenated oils. Skilled buyers search the globe for the finest authentic products, artisans and renowned purveyors of produce, meat, seafood, cheese, coffee and other delicacies.

“When our customers step into our store, they will be tempted at every turn. From a huge selection of produce to the freshest fish and seafood to mouthwatering gourmet prepared foods-the aromas and sights will surely delight their senses!” said Walls. “It is very exciting when our customers try new items and become more involved in healthful ways to prepare foods and care for their bodies.”

The Whole Foods Market store will combine the expertise and advantages of a farmer's market, a specialty market, a grocer, an old fashioned butcher, a fishmonger and a team of chefs making the finest restaurant-quality meals…all under one roof. The distinctive features of the Sarasota store include:

  • Organically grown fruits and vegetables teeming with vitality, picked at the peak of flavor and freshness, are neatly stacked in our produce department. Our produce buyers seek out farmers who use safe, sustainable farming methods, and also search for local producers.
  • A prepared foods department offers time-saving options prepared daily by our on-site chefs including: a rotisserie grill, pizza oven, sandwich station, an impressive help-yourself food bar with salads, grains and soups, and an international hot bar with foods from around the globe. Customers can eat in the café, on the outdoor patio, or take the food to go.
  • Hearth-baked, crusty breads and delectable pastries, bagels, muffins, rolls and cookies made fresh throughout the day. Bakery items from top local and national artisan pastry shops are offered as well.
  • The Whole Foods Market specialty department, modeled after European markets, make it possible to enjoy favorite flavors of the world-every day! Customers will discover nearly every type of domestic and imported cheeses, a wide variety of olives, fresh pastas and dips, gourmet chocolates, nitrate-free meats and pâtés, a vast selection of conventional and organic wines from around the globe and an adventurous selection of domestic and imported beers.
  • Fresh fish and seafood. Unlike other supermarkets, Whole Foods Markets operates its own fish processing facilities in Gloucester, Mass., Seattle, Wash. and Yakutat, Alaska to ensure the best fish are caught and quickly shipped directly to stores for peak freshness. You will find a well-stocked fish and seafood department, frozen specialties, a large smoked selection, oven-ready items and steaming-hot chowders.
  • Whole Foods Market sells only natural meats from animals raised on a 100 percent vegetarian diet-never animal by-products. It is free of added hormones, steroids and antibiotics. Our experienced meat team is eager to share helpful cooking instructions and to describe the high quality standards of our natural meat program.
  • Dairy cases are filled with fresh milk, eggs from cage-free chickens, butter and yogurt, including many organic options. For customers seeking alternatives to dairy products, a broad selection of soy- and rice-based milks, cheeses and yogurts also are available.
  • Grocery products fill the aisles from every major food category such as convenient frozen items to bins of bulk foods to cereals, snacks and nuts to natural pet products and eco-friendly cleaning products.
  • The Whole Foods Market family of brands offers the highest quality products for every occasion that embody our strict quality standards. The 365 Everyday Value™ line is a collection of all-natural pantry staples at great value prices. 365 Organic Everyday Value™ line is the first all-organic line in North America available at everyday low prices. Whole Kids Organic™ is the country's first organic food product line crafted just for kids. Our newest culinary creations — Whole Kitchen™, Whole Catch™, and Whole Treat™ — go beyond the basics to offer unique and intriguing products ranging from heat-and-serve appetizers to quick meal solutions to indulgent desserts and sweets. The Authentic Food Artisan™ (AFA) seal designates the finest organic foods from around the world handcrafted in small batches and showcases food and wine artisans' dedication to traditional craftsmanship.
  • Our commitment to the Allegro Coffee Company and its delicious, classic flavors brings the best possible coffee to our customers. We believe in supporting small family farmers who still use traditional farming methods and harvest their crops by hand at the peak of ripeness-and paying them above the cost of production to protect them from fluctuations in the coffee market.
  • Our Whole Body department is dedicated to pampering, nurturing and caring for the whole body with its personal care items in addition to nutritional supplements and vitamins. Knowledgeable team members work one-on-one with customers to help them make informed choices from the wide selection of organic and natural alternatives for common health and beauty products.
  • The Whole Lifestyle Center's calendar of events will focus on health and wellness through lectures, cooking classes, fitness demonstrations, children's events, and food and wine tastings. Store tours will feature information about health-conscious products, the environmental aspects of the Whole Foods Market building, and public art displayed throughout the store. Community groups will be able to meet in the center, as well.

The new Whole Foods Market store will be an exciting destination for Sarasota residents and visitors to celebrate and enjoy eating and living well.