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Whole Foods poised to open in Nashua

Union Leader Correspondent

August 17. 2014 6:04PM
Workers at the new Whole Foods Market in Nashua prepare the cheese case for opening day on Tuesday. (KIMBERLY HOUGHTON/Union Leader Correspondent)

NASHUA — Shopping for groceries will no longer be the same in the Gate City.

Instead of browsing food aisles with to-go coffee cups, shoppers at the new Whole Foods Market on Amherst Street have an entire pub and restaurant to take advantage of, including 32 beers on tap and wine by the glass.

Inside of the new, 32,000-square-foot store set to open on Tuesday is J. Bartlett’s Pub, a full-service, full-menu restaurant named after New Hampshire’s fourth governor and signer of the Declaration of Independence.

“This is something we have never been able to do in this region,” said Heather McCready, public relations manager for the North Atlantic Region of Whole Foods Market.

The closest pub housed within a Whole Foods store is located in New York, according to McCready, who said the company is thrilled to bring this new feature to New Hampshire’s first Whole Foods Market.

The 50-seat pub is kid-friendly with televisions and WiFi, and will serve a variety of dishes from sushi to pizza and everything in between, she said.

The public is invited to attend the bread-breaking ceremony that will officially open the doors of the new market at 9:45 a.m. Tuesday at the Turnpike Plaza, 255 Amherst St. The store will open for shopping at 10 a.m.

“People typically pour in. It is such a sight to see,” McCready said. “A lot of people in New Hampshire have never been to a Whole Foods, so we expect there will be a lot of looking around to find values and see what this is all about.”

At first glance, the new Nashua store has a very industrial look that complements the Gate City’s millyard area. Interior wood is reclaimed from traditional barns, and the glass windows at the pub are also made from recycled materials.

There is cafe seating with couches, a children’s play area, coffee bar, outdoor picnic tables and other amenities designed to make grocery shopping an experience — not just another errand, said Jaimee Rondeau, marketing team leader with Whole Foods.

“We also have a wide variety of produce with as much local supplies as possible,” Rondeau said. “We really try to represent the seasons of New England in the produce department.”

There is a full service floral department, bakery, homemade guacamole and salsa made daily, fresh juices, a candy bar and cookies-by-the-pound display. Gluten-free, peanut-free and allergen-free options are available for customers, and every product in the store is free of artificial colors and preservatives, Rondeau said.

A tortilla machine is on hand to make fresh tortillas made-to-order, and fresh fish is brought into the seafood department six days a week, according to Rondeau.

Whole Foods participates in the Global Animal Partnership to ensure that all of its meat is not fed antibiotics or growth hormones, and that animals are not placed in cages or crowded in crates.

“We also grind our meat fresh daily,” McCready said. “We have a money-back guarantee, and we have rigorous quality standards so that customers don’t have to read the label on every item in the store. It makes shopping easier and quicker.”

Whole Foods is the first national retailer to pledge by 2018 that every product in the store will be labeled if it contains GMOs, or genetically modified organisms.

There is also an antipasto bar, cold salad bars and hot bars with soups, rotisserie chicken and more. A hickory smoker is available for fresh brisket, and a pizza oven is also on hand for individuals wishing to order an entire pizza or just one slice. Sandwiches-to-go are also sold at the store.

“Customers can try anything in the store before they buy it,” said McCready, explaining staff will gladly open packages to allow shoppers to try samples.

About 150 employees will work at the store — with about 110 of those team members residing in the greater Nashua area. Philip Devito, who lives in Nashua and has been with the company for 19 years, is the team leader at the new Nashua market.

In addition to the Nashua site, Whole Foods is also planning future stores in Portsmouth and Bedford.

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