Is Whole Foods the Next Competitor in Fast Casual?

Fast casual has found its way into some unsuspecting places these days — food trucks, airports, malls, and now, grocery stores. Whole Foods, to be exact.

A chain that prides itself on supporting local communities and giving consumers access to an array of smaller scale, health-conscious brands, Whole Foods and Millennials go together like a perfect pairing.

The Watering Hole, an in-house bar at a South Florida Whole Foods in Pompano, has a Western theme and is custom to this store location. Each Whole Foods store with an in-house bar includes a different concept theme. All of them offer local craft beers by the glass as well as food items like gourmet grilled cheese and charcuterie, and beer-and-cheese pairings.

In this episode of Fast Casual Nation, brought to you by the Foodable Network and Sprout Social, host Paul Barron sits down with Diandra Salcedo, marketing team leader at Whole Foods, and Kari McGuiness, regional specialty buyer at Whole Foods, to discuss how these custom, in-store bar concepts at select Whole Foods locations are created and what goes into putting them together.

How does each “concept” work toward supporting the local community? What are some of the most popular items on the menu? And will these in-store concepts hit stride during lunch, a highly competitive daypart?