ATLANTA (March 3, 2003.

. Whole Foods Market (NASDAQ: WFMI) will open its first Midtown Atlanta location with a special Grand Opening Bread Breaking ceremony on March 12 at 10 a.m. with celebrity chef Alton Brown, star of the Food Network's popular “Good Eats.”

The new 40,000 square-foot store will offer a number of firsts on the grocery retail scene in Atlanta. The all-natural meat counter will feature a dry-aged beef room, clearly visible to customers just behind a meat service counter specializing in the old-fashioned art of custom butchering. An in-store coffee roaster and green coffee beans will allow aficionados of the bean to create custom roasts to their specifications. A tiled brick oven pizza oven is the centerpiece of a prepared foods area with hot bar, salad bar, cold case and a complete selection of meal solutions. The 48-foot seafood counter will bring an unprecedented array of fresh fish and seafood to Intown Atlantans.

The new store — located at 650 Ponce de Leon Avenue in the Midtown Place shopping center, across Ponce de Leon from City Hall East — will share tenancy in Midtown Place with Borders Books & Music, Staples, PetsMart and The Home Depot.

“We are filling a void for the Midtown Atlanta residents who share our passion for fresh, delicious, natural food,” said Ken Meyer, regional president for Whole Foods Markets. “We expect to become the destination of choice for Atlanta's foodie community and chefs, both professional and amateur. We'll be an active member of the community and are committed to serving the area and our customers in the best possible way.” Given the returning trend of in-town living, Whole Foods Market is poised to meet the growing demand for healthy, delicious food options for the vibrant urban neighborhoods around Ponce de Leon.

The new location will blend the best of what customers love from both Whole Foods Market and Harry's Farmers Market, the Atlanta-based brand that Whole Foods Market acquired in September 2001. The elements that put Harry's Farmers Market on the map and defined a new customer shopping experience — fresh seafood in abundance, extensive wine and cheese offerings, and the largest fresh produce selection — will be an integral part of the Midtown Whole Foods Market location.

Whole Foods Market will unveil several new design features that cater to the work and lifestyle needs of the surrounding community. Because of its proximity to City Hall East and other business centers, Whole Foods Market will offer an expanded prepared foods area and a cafe with seating for 80 people that will serve a diverse daily menu of both hot food items and salad bar selections. The prepared foods area will offer these fresh foods and natural and organic options for both dine-in and to go, facilitating meal solutions for customers who want to cook a lot, a little, or not at all. In addition, the Ponce de Leon Whole Foods Market will feature a Whole Body™ section with a broad selection of nutrition, wellness and body care products.

The market's interior features a high, open ceiling, and a clear one-story space above the cafe and specialty foods section that will flood the area with an abundance of natural light. Department highlights include an expanded food-preparation kitchen with professional chefs, a wine shop with wine steward, an antipasti bar, and Whole Foods Market and Harry's Farmers Market bakery products.