Whole Foods flagship celebrates five years
Northbrook Wednesday 08.29.12. Whole Foods Market's Northbrook store employees Sarah Kurysz (far left) of Chicago and Tesh Silver (second from left) of Chicago make breakfast for co-workers as part of the store's five year celebration on Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2012. In the background are co-workers Patti Fell (second from right) of Evanston and Martin Castrejon (far right) of Waukegan. | Buzz Orr~Sun-Times Media
Updated: September 11, 2012 3:20PM
NORTHBROOK — Whole Foods’ Northbrook Market is celebrating its fifth anniversary in the community as the company’s largest suburban store in the Chicago area.
On Friday, Village President Sandra Frum and Whole Foods Regional President Michael Bashaw marked the event at 840 Willow Road in the Willow Festival Shopping Center.
The retailer, which operates a 65,000-square-foot store at the site, offers a variety of products for those who crave organic and natural foods.
“It’s very comprehensive. We call it the flagship store of the suburbs,” said Patti Fell, the store’s marketing and community relations specialist. “We chose this location for it, because Northbrook is a place where people are very interested in their food supply and in healthy eating.”
The store features a lifestyle classroom; a gelateria; and a Culinary Corner, a fully-equipped demonstration kitchen where chefs present cooking tips and elegant entertaining ideas, as well as food and wine pairing suggestions.
And unique to the Northbrook store is the Brook Bar, which opened last spring, offering drinks and Friday night dinner in the cafe.
“The store has eight departments, like many other grocery stores, but even has its own smoke house in the meat department, where we smoke our own meat,” Fell said.
There is fresh sushi, and most of the breads are made every day in the store.
The prepared food department has a variety of meats, salads and vegetables that are seasonable, as well as products from Illinois and states touching it – Indiana, Wisconsin, Missouri and Iowa, Fell said.
Sixty-two of the 225 people who are employed here, most full-time, have been here since the store opened, she added.
On Aug. 29, the exact date of the anniversary, the store made breakfast for all of the team members. On “Payday Fridays” every other week, the store makes lunch for its employees. It also provides new products for employees to sample, so they can describe them to customers.
“But I’m especially proud of Whole Foods for caring about our community and our environment,” Fell said. “We have donated to more than 100 organizations within the Northbrook and Glenview area in the last five years: schools, community centers, the food banks and other non-profits.”
However, customers patronize the store for many reasons.
Lisa Rose, a Northbrook resident, who has been a customer since the business opened, keeps returning because the produce is always fresh.
“I come here all the way from Park Ridge to get my spelt bread, because they have the best bread in the Chicago area,” said Irena Pona-Uszplewicz. “I have allergies to wheat, and some tastes absolutely terrible. But this is delicious,” she added, munching on some she had just purchased.
Phil Knell, who lives in Gurnee but works in the area, said he frequents the store, because there is a lot of variety and “great tasting stuff.”
“The meat is a little pricey, but worth it. The food bar is always fresh, quick and tasty,” he added. “And I like to get my breakfast here (bacon, eggs and potatoes), because it is always good – and cheaper than McDonald’s.”