Whole Foods is Offering a Food Hall Experience at its 500th Store

Food halls have become wildly popular with today's consumer and for good reason. They offer a variety of food options, paired with a unique dining experience.

From an operator-standpoint, food halls are a great entry point into the foodservice business. They have much lower startup costs than the traditional brick-and-mortar store.

With that in mind, food halls are popping up all over the country and Amazon's Whole Foods just announced that the grocer is jumping on this trend too.

The organic grocery giant opened its 500th store, which is 70,000-square-feet and four levels, last Friday in midtown Atlanta.

The new store will have four fast casual concepts and is offering a “food hall experience” at its Canopy Court on the store's rooftop terrace.

The court will feature restaurants like Farm Burger, Capital Experience, along with the 14th Street Bar and a food truck serving wines, local brews, and rotating food items. The store will also have the grocer's coffee shop Allegro, which serves coffee, wine, beer, baked goods, and sandwiches.

“Whole Foods Market Midtown will be a true gathering space for the community,” said Bobby Turner, president of the South region for Whole Foods in a statement. “We worked hard to create a place that offers our neighbors a destination to get together, enjoy great food and connect with members of the local community through a variety of culinary, wellness and cultural events. We’re proud that our new South Region flagship has the honor of opening as Whole Foods Market’s 500th store, marking an incredible milestone for the company.”

The grocery shopping experience at this location has more food experiences incorporated too. There is a build-your-own avocado toast bar, made-to-order sandwiches station, lettuce wrap bars, and a skillet bar serving fried chicken and wings. There will also be seasonally rotating culinary popup stations.

Learn more about how Whole Foods is infusing the grocery experience with more food experiences at "Supermarket News."

Speaking of Food Halls, Miami has become a hot spot for these dining experiences. Don’t miss this recent On Foodable Side Dish episode below showcasing some of Miami’s best food halls.

How Amazon's Whole Foods Plans to Enhance its Grocery Shopping Experience

When the tech giant acquired Whole Foods, it rocked the industry.

Not only did grocery chains have to now compete with the E-commerce giant, but Whole Foods customers weren't sure what the future held for the organic grocery store.

Were the same unique products going to be sold? Whole Foods grew in popularity because it was the only store that sold certain specialty food products.

But, apparently, customers shouldn't be worried about Whole Foods and the niche products on the shelves. Whole Foods will continue to sell local food products that you often can't find at a common grocery chain.

“This became a media narrative that wasn’t based on anything, truthfully, except for anecdotes of customers who would come in, couldn’t find a local product, and somehow think Amazon forced us to drop them,” said John Mackey, Whole Foods CEO to "Well + Good." “Not only are we not decreasing local foods, we’re increasing them.”

Whole Foods is ramping up its selection of vegan and plant-based products. The grocery chain recently published a plant-based recipe book to encourage a veggie-focused lifestyle.

Whole Foods with the help of its tech parent company will also be using customer feedback to improve stores.

“People can get whatever food they want, whenever they want it, at a price they’re willing to pay,” said Mackey. As grocery stores continue to evolve, “I just think the consumer is going to rule. That’s where we’re heading. And quickly.”

Borrowing from Amazon's business model, the grocery chain will be more focused on customer service. The company has been ramping up the number of focus groups across the country to see what customers think about the store.

“The higher purpose of Amazon is to be the world’s most customer-centric company,” said Mackey. “They build their whole business model around [making] the customers happy, and Whole Foods is trying to do the same thing.”

Read more about how Whole Foods is trying to enhance the customer grocery shopping experience at "Well & Good."

We recently took a deep dive into how Amazon is taking away customers from both grocery stores and restaurants with cashier-less Amazon Go stores. These convenient stores offer grab-and-go food options and have become the most popular around lunch time.

Watch the video below to see how Amazon Go has become a threat to restaurant operators.