Here’s a Look Inside the Biggest Whole Foods Market Store in Hawai‘i
We have three words for you. Mac'n'cheese bar. Mic dropped—because we left to go get some.
VIDEO: Diane Lee AND DAVID CROXFORD
Cue “A Whole New World.” That’s what will be playing in your head when you enter the new Whole Foods Market on Queen Street. Before you take a magic cart ride in the 72,000-square-foot space (almost three times the size as the Kāhala location), here are a few tips on what’s new, what’s too good to miss and what’s healthyish.
First off, parking. This is a huge factor, especially when sardine-packed Ward meets the frenzy of Whole Foods. But two levels of parking in the Whole Foods building (entrance on Queen Street) are dedicated to shoppers.
PHOTOS: DAVID CROXFORD
When we went for the media preview, employees were still setting up for the big opening. The second floor was still being worked on so we were kept to the first floor. When you first walk in, you’ll find locally owned Lanikai Juice’s walk-up counter featuring a menu of vitamin-packed juices, smoothies and acai bowls. Across from that is a coffee station that offers nitro teas and milk teas with boba. Both are good pit stops for that morning, or mid-day, jolt.
Next up is the rainbow-hued produce section, with items from more than 60 local suppliers, including non-GMO papaya and corn, and fresh-squeezed sugar cane juice from Kō Hana distillery. This area also features more than 100 bulk items.
In the back, in the seafood section, is the self-serve poke bar. It was empty when we visited, but we’re told there will be the old-school faves (shoyu, inamona, spicy), as well as lomi octopus, asparagus shrimp and ‘ahi mango poke. And what goes with poke? Beer. In the back of the store, there are more than 1,000 choices, including local brews, sake, wines and top-shelf spirits—which can only be found at this location. However, if you don’t want to take the party to go, the in-house Two Tides Bar (there’s one downstairs and upstairs) offers 24 beers on tap along with bar grub.
The new Whole Foods also has the biggest hot bar in the state. We were drawn to the smoked meat section and the mac ’n’ cheese bar, set up ironically by the build-your-own salad spread. Versions include pork belly mac, roasted tomato and spinach mac, jalapeño mac, brisket mac and a vegan mac—for those who don’t want to milk it.
Of course, the rest of the usual organic, all-natural, preservative-free items that Whole Foods is known for are still here: fresh meats, fresh wild-caught seafood from Honolulu Fish Market, local body-care products, 365 Everyday Value pantry staples, made-to-order Chinese and Japanese takeout (which contains no MSG), and more.
One more first: The second floor of the Queen store is the first dedicated retail brand shop inside a Whole Foods, which will carry Whole Foods Market-branded reusable bags, towels, mugs and hats.
So, a whole new Whole Foods Market showed us a hundred thousand things to see. For you and me.
Whole Foods Market Queen opens on Wednesday, May 9 at 9 a.m. Five percent of all net sales on opening day will go to Mala ‘Ai ‘Opio of MA‘O Organic Farms. The nonprofit hires student interns to work on the farm in exchange for partial school tuition.
388 Kamake‘e St., Suite 100, wholefoodsmarket.com. Regular hours will be 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.