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Sneak Peek: The UWS's Kid-Friendly Whole Foods

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Last night we made the arduous journey up to 100th and Columbus to check out the new Whole Foods, which officially opens this Thursday. Other than the wine shop, the store doesn't break much new ground for New York, but it's definitely a game-changer for the neighborhood. Yesterday's preview event was thronged with children and their clean-cut, professional-looking parents, all of whom were clearly thrilled to relinquish dinner-making duties to Whole Foods for the night. (Evidence: The most child-friendly snacks, like the mini Sloppy Joes, were by far the most popular, although we did see a serious line for sushi when we were leaving.)

The supermarket occupies the former home of a jazz club, so in honor of the site's heritage, Whole Foods had jazz bands performing in the aisles. On the ground floor, we found a big cheese section and a less-big prepared foods department. This store won't be selling as many different prepared foods as its downtown compatriots, but what it lacks in variety it makes up in kosherness—a nod to the demographics of the neighborhood. On the elevator ride down to the bottom floor, we watched as an as-yet-unfilled produce section stretched out before us. The produce sits in the middle of the room, ringed with refrigerated shelves holding juice and frozen foods. Behind the elevators are dry foods like grains and a large Whole Body section, and if you loop around, you'll find the same kind of bulk bins that so thrill us in Tribeca.

Back on the top floor, two aisles of chrysanthemum-bedecked cash registers lead to a mezzanine that we assume will house shopping carts, and the mezzanine leads to the outside world (and the wine shop—more on that later.) As we headed out, we heard a tiny voice pipe up, "Thank you, mommy! Thank you, daddy!" and turned to see a family with two little kids walking behind us. It was almost suspiciously precious, but assuming Whole Foods didn't hire two child actors to thank their "parents" for bringing them to the grocery store whenever a member of the media walked by, it seemed like a pretty strong endorsement to us.
· Oh, Wholly Foods: Wine Will Soon Flow on the UWS [Racked]