Whole Renovation of Boulder’s Big Whole Foods

Boulder market unveils its its big new look, expanded inventory and enhanced resources for home cooks

I live 22 blocks west of Whole Foods Markets’ first and biggest Boulder location (there currently are also three smaller ones in town). My son worked at the Pearl Street store one summer, and I am sure that he learned more about customer service there than in any college business course he ever took. Pearl Street was my Whole Foods, the one I shopped at most often — until the lengthy renovation began. For months I could never find anything as the store’s landscaped changed constantly. Departments were uprooted and relocated, so rather than constantly hunting, I shifted by grocery gathering to other Whole Foods, to the renascent Alfalfa’s and to King Soopers’ growing natural/organic areas.

Whole Foods Pearl Street has about doubled in size and is not only bigger and brighter than the original but will presumably be busier as people like me, who tended to avoid it during the construction phase, return. The Grand Re-Opening is Saturday, August 13.

Now the renovation is complete. The store is about twice its previous size, the aisles are wider, there are mini-shops within the store. Of course, there are departments for meat, seafood, produce, prepared and packaged foods, and health and beauty products. But there are also what are specialized bulk food “boutiques” for grains, flours, sugars (coconut sugar! who knew?), coffees, spices, oils and vinegars and more. Special attention is paid to gluten-free foods.

Super-specialty areas featuring well-known and exotic ingredients in bulk, making it easy to try without committing -- and also reducing packaging and waste.

The store is also tightening its bonds to the community in general and the foodie/cooking community in particular. Customers can find touch-screen computer stations and link to Food 52, a website aimed at talented and engaged home cooks, to find out more about specific ingredients, get recipes and other resources. In addition to a direct line to this online cooks’ community, Whole Foods has hired Beth Pilar as the in-store culinary consultant. Her office is a podium where she is ready to answer questions and guide customers through the larger and more comprehensive ingredient selection now on display. Eventually, she will present cooking demonstrations too.

Whole Foods' new culinary consultant Beth Pilar, formerly a New York food stylist and bakeshop owner.

Farm Dinners on the Patio

To show off the new store and also do a dry run of a special dinner event on the recently constructed patio, Whole Foods invited local bloggers to a farm dinner made by sous-chef Andrea Nordby and her team using ingredients not from one particular farm but from as many local and elsewhere-in-Colorado purveyors as possible.  Upcoming farm dinners cost $75 per person, including local  adult beverages. You can buy tickets from customer service beginning on Monday, August 15, and 100 percent of the proceeds will support Whole Foods’ Boulder Valley School Food Project. These fundraising dinners, each with a different leading local chef and different menu, are scheduled for three Thursdays in September from 6:00 to 8:30 p.m.: 9/1, with Hosea Rosenberg, who achieved celeb status as “Top Chef” Season 5 winner; 9/8, Bradford Heap owner/chef of Colterra and SALT Bistro, and 9/15, BVSD chef Ann Cooper and Brandy Dreibelbis with Whole Foods’ Pearl Street executive chef Brad Defurio.

Here’s what was served at the 8/10 food bloggers’ feast:

Whole Foods team members welcomed blogger guests with three passed hors d'oeuvres and cold fresh mint lemonade.
Cold-smoked salmon with beets, apple and greens with tarragon yogurt, which is a simple cold sauce.
Yukon Gold potato gnocchi in a silky corn bisque with aromatic truffle oil, basil and a few microgreens for color.
Smoked pork belly with fennel puree anchors one side of the plate, barely counterweighted with a stack of picked veggies on the other.
After a sorbet palate cleanser, slices of tender, dry-aged ribeye with a shallot potato rösti and a blueberry-Syrah compote.
Dessert was a duet of cakes by Kim & Jake's -- on the left, vegan, gluten-free Boulder Chocolate Cake, and on the right, Stawberry Margarita.

Grand Re-Opening Events

Starting Friday August 12, peaking on Saturday the 13th and concluding on Sunday the 14th is a weekend full of activities, demos, samples and entertainment. The store is on Pearl Street between 28th and 30th Streets.

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4 thoughts on “Whole Renovation of Boulder’s Big Whole Foods”

  1. Can’t wait to check it out more closely. I’ve been stopping by on my way back to Longmont a lot lately because their to-go food section is fantastic and I’m addicted to a couple of their offerings.

  2. I went to that Whole Foods a few times during the renovation, and I was always wandering around thinking things like, “I was just in the bulk aisle. Where did it go?” But the meat and seafood counter and the bulk aisle were great. Todd and I found a store very similar to Whole Foods in Missoula—the Good Food Store—but it’s a nonprofit.

  3. Other food bloggers at the dinner said the same thing, and some of the Whole Foods staffers said they kept have to reorient themselves to the ever-changing layout. I had the same experience as you — and in fact, I also had it when the King Soopers on 30th Street had its remodel (no Whole Foods-like expansion but a makeover and movea-around). The Good Food Store sounds like a good grocery store in a good Boulder-like town.

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