Whole Foods opens to huge crowds in Dublin

A look inside the store ahead of opening shows market's environmental push

Crowds filled the sidewalks and part of the parking lot Wednesday for the grand opening of Whole Foods' 43rd Bay Area market in Dublin's new Persimmon Square.

The open air shopping center is located at Hacienda and Dublin Boulevard, across from Hacienda Crossings.

The new market is Whole Foods first for the Tri-Valley cities of Pleasanton, Livermore and Dublin. With 225 employees and 40,000 square feet of space, the new store, which has a "modern farmhouse" look that incorporates reclaimed wood and tin, aged metals and colorful chalkboards, is larger than the company's older store in San Ramon, with far more special amenities.

At the invitation of Beth Krausse,Whole Foods regional public relations and social media manager, I had a walking tour of the new store just prior to Wednesday morning's opening. It was probably the only time I'll be in a Whole Foods market without rubbing shoulders with other shoppers. It also gave me a chance to talk to managers and look behind the counters to seer how Whole Foods controls its legacy environmental-friendly reputation.

Right up front, the store posts a sign promoting "Full Health Energy" and listing suppliers who have earned the grocer's best rating for conservation, with labels marked good, better and best in terms of how they use less water and pesticides to provide their products. Whole Foods technicians survey their vendors' sites before awarding the labels.

At a free-standing wine counter, customers can enjoy tastings and also shop for Livermore Valley and other wines that are graded on a "90 point" system, based on those designated ratings used by three of the leading wine magazines.

An elaborate cheese section includes two experts behind the counter who can explain product tastes, how ocean air may affect the processes of certain cheese and then offer help in building a cheese platter for a customer planning a party.

Down the aisle is a seafood section where Whole Foods uses third party specialists to audit farmed fish standards, ruling out fish that are fed antibiotics or that contain artificial colors or preservatives. Wild-caught fish go through an approval process from Marin and Monterey Bay Aquarium sea watch programs designating the store's fish as green or yellow. Whole Foods doesn't carry fish with a red rating, which the program considers endangered species because ocean supplies are running low.

Meat sold at the store also goes through a five-step rating system supported by 100 animal welfare centers. This shows that farmers raise their stock responsibly with audits affirming that none is raised in cages, that cattle are kept outdoors except in extreme weather, that they are born and raised on the same farm and that they've never been in a crowded feed lot. Farmers who qualify as meat vendors commit to fattening up their herds in the field, taking grain to them instead of bringing them into a feed lot.

Whole Foods also is joining the global effort to offer more non-GMO foods. GMO, or genetically modified foods, are those produced from organisms that have had specific changes introduced into their DNA. And while not considered dangerous by government standards, shoppers are increasingly hesitant to buy them. Now, some products carry a non-GMO label, which by 2018 Whole Food will require vendors to label all of their products stating if they have GMOs.

"It'll be like a peanut allergy label that's become common" Krausse explained.

In addition to Whole Foods customary selection of natural and organic products, the Dublin store offers dining and entertainment, including a pizza venue, tap room and an outdoor patio with a space for live music and performances.

"We want to give local musicians a place to play, a wide selection of trending ingredients to share with friends, and parents and a comfortable, welcoming place to have a quick and easy meal with their kids," said Allen Culp, the new store's team leader.

Paul Barron, marketing team leader, agreed, adding that the Dublin store will offer local partnerships, sponsorships and charitable giving, such as "5-Percent Days" and "Nickels for Nonprofits."

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4 people like this
Posted by PtownMom
a resident of Walnut Grove Elementary School
on May 21, 2015 at 8:49 am

I am thrilled with the opening of the new Whole Foods! It is an easy store to shop at for those of us that want our families to eat real food, free of unnecessary chemicals, antibiotics, and hormones. Love it!

15 people like this
Posted by Citizen
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 21, 2015 at 9:51 am

Whole Foods Markets = The Whole Paycheck Market!

Posted by Name hidden
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood

on May 21, 2015 at 9:59 am

Due to repeated violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are automatically removed. Why?

14 people like this
Posted by Map
a resident of Del Prado
on May 21, 2015 at 10:34 am

Parking here is worse than the BART lot, good luck finding a space, can't wait till all the other shops open, take a number and get in line very poorly planned , reminds me of the parking at traders joes in Pleasanton

14 people like this
Posted by A Neighbor
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 21, 2015 at 11:23 am

It's ok, but I still prefer New Leaf in Pleasanton, by far.

19 people like this
Posted by John
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 21, 2015 at 11:29 am

I'll stick to the New Leaf Market in Vintage Hills, Pleasanton. It has a selection very similar to Whole Foods, but more locally-sourced. The store is smaller and friendlier, and its parking lot is never full. It is also a relatively local small chain, so our shopping money stays local.

4 people like this
Posted by Love Whole Foods
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on May 21, 2015 at 12:06 pm

@ John......"More locally sourced"? Really???.....Not even close plus New Leaf has everything for $1 to $2 more!

13 people like this
Posted by Brad
a resident of Vineyard Hills
on May 21, 2015 at 12:23 pm

Journalism 101...who, what, WHERE, why, and how. So how about adding WHERE the new store is? I'm guessing almost no one reading this has any clue where "Persimmon Square" is. As for Whole Foods offering non-GMO foods I assume they then won't sell bananas, peas, or corn since those were all genetically modified 100s of years ago in order to look like what they look like today. Agree with several others here...go to New Leaf and spend your money locally.

4 people like this
Posted by Shopper
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 21, 2015 at 1:45 pm

I did manage to find a parking spot, but that was tough, mostly because of all the other stores in that shopping center. And once inside I didn't see any differences between this WFM store and the one in San Ramon. For regular grocery items, Lucky or Safeway is just fine, and as far as I can tell there's nothing which sets Whole Food's 365 brand apart from other products except for the price. For meat, fish, fruits, and veggies, I think New Leaf or Gene's offers better quality for the same price or less. And both of those are closer to me. The last thing I want when I go grocery shopping is to travel over the freeway and then have a hassle parking.

3 people like this
Posted by Don Key
a resident of Downtown
on May 21, 2015 at 2:53 pm

@map - I agree, you would think a new strip mall might have some sense of efficiency but they seem to build them all this way. Just look at the CF they produced at the Bernal Safeway. The only thing this shopping center needs is a couple more lights and the Iron Horse Trail running through it.

16 people like this
Posted by New Leaf Rocks
a resident of Vineyard Hills
on May 21, 2015 at 10:10 pm

@Lovewhole Foods--sorry buddy I must agree with John and everyone else who loves New Leaf. Yes New leaf is Local--we get to park in their lot. Hey John--ask whole foods where they get there rabbit meat from??? It is disgusting. New leaf is MUCH better then Whole foods/ Local company beats company Texas.

8 people like this
Posted by Bill
a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on May 22, 2015 at 11:44 am

New Leaf, absolutely. I can't stand driving on the other side of 580.

13 people like this
Posted by Another New Leafer
a resident of Danbury Park
on May 22, 2015 at 2:57 pm

We too prefer New Leaf. I can't stand all the traffic and general chaos of venturing to the Dublin side (dark side) of the freeway. No thanks. That shopping center is just like all the others there where the parking lot is overcrowded and crazy. New Leaf also employs Pleasanton people which is something I completely support.

11 people like this
Posted by BobB
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 22, 2015 at 7:36 pm

Like New Leaf also. It seems less impersonal and friendlier. It is also closer to home.

10 people like this
Posted by Map
a resident of Del Prado
on May 22, 2015 at 9:11 pm

Liking the "dark side " comment about Dublin, very poorly planned, not a happy place to drive too. Cast my vote for New Leaf also, plenty of happy helpful employees, great parking, fruits and veggies are great along with the meat dept. second choice is trader joes in Livermore only because of the bad parking in Pleasanton trader joes, many thanks to the knuckleheads who can't seem to park between the lines, also to whom it may concern thanks for the nice dent in my passenger side door I won't be back to give you a shot at hitting me again!!!!!!

13 people like this
Posted by justwondering
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 22, 2015 at 9:33 pm

I too, like New Leaf and appreciate how they support various things in our community such as PPIE.

12 people like this
Posted by Legogranny
a resident of Vintage Hills
on May 23, 2015 at 8:14 am

I also like New Leaf in Vintage Hills and Gene's Fine Foods across town very much and would not make a trip to Dublin for Whole Foods. New Leaf and Gene's have everything I need, items are easy to find, and the folks who work there are very helpful. The parking at New Leaf and Gene's Fine Foods is the best in Pleasanton and I've lived here since 1987. I agree with the previous post about the terrible parking at Trader Joe's in Pleasanton.

Like this comment
Posted by Boomer
a resident of Stoneridge
on May 25, 2015 at 5:47 am

@Brad, "shopping center is located at Hacienda and Dublin Boulevard"

I think everybody knows WHERE that is...

8 people like this
Posted by Jen
a resident of Birdland
on May 25, 2015 at 8:38 am

I'm so pleased to see so many people here that will continue to shop at New Leaf! I love the store, the products, and the knowledgable staff... And my tax $ stay in Pleasanton! I wish we could all afford healthier food for our families... maybe one day organic, etc will be same price as GM foods.

8 people like this
Posted by Map
a resident of Del Prado
on May 25, 2015 at 12:15 pm

Attention trader joes--- fresh and easy is gone, good place to relocate to, lots of parking, easy to get in and out of, it's time to make the right move. If we aren't ever going to get our movie theater back at least give us something in that lot that we can use!!!

9 people like this
Posted by wondering
a resident of Beratlis Place
on May 25, 2015 at 5:42 pm

I say support New Leaf--they give back to the community through a number of various activities. What has Whole Foods done for Pleasanton?

9 people like this
Posted by Shopper
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 25, 2015 at 10:10 pm

It's easy to forget that not all communities have a choice of good, upscale grocery stores like WFM, Gene's, and New Leaf. Call it a perk of living in an upscale area. Most communities have only a low-price store like Lucky or Walmart and perhaps a Safeway. Here in P-town, I can get top quality without needing to go over the freeway.

2 people like this
Posted by Claudette
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 26, 2015 at 12:01 pm

Love New Leaf and I do believe in spending my money locally when you can, but it's nice to have options ~ when you're out and about.

3 people like this
Posted by Skysky
a resident of Mohr Park
on May 27, 2015 at 6:20 pm

I like to have several options as to where to shop be it WF, Safeway, Genes , or Trader Joes. What's good about WF organic produce is that it's very fresh due to fast turnover. People say the whole paycheck but a comparison shop would show that many organic items are not even available at the chains and what little the chains do carry is usually more expensive than WF and is often not as fresh.
What's most important to me is to be able to buy foods that don't contain high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and that's difficult to do at most mainstream stores as it's through the use of cheap ingredients such as HFCS that prices are kept low and it's in everything - from bread to ice cream to pickle relish to BBQ sauce to cereals - even bread crumbs, salad dressings, chocolate syrup, soda pop - you name it. Just as cattle are feedlot fattened on corn, we are being fattened on HFCS with obesity rates exploding since HFCS's addition to our diet starting in the 70s.

While a lot of people dislike WF - I'm not sure why the hostile level of dislike as it's just a grocery store - but anyone who likes organic foods has to concede that WF's national success has helped to increase competition in the organic foods market. There have been regional organic stores but they've all fallen victim to companies like ConAgra that use cut rate food products to entice consumers. People need to educate themselves as to what's being done to our food supply while a and full of companies get rich. Watch the film "Food Inc" to see why it's 2015 and people in the U.S. die from eating food. We're not a third world country but you'd never know it from the contaminants in our food supply.
I don't get this argument about whether organic is more nutritious than conventional food - why should it be? The only difference is pesticides and unless pesticides add nutrients, the foods are nutritionally equal. I for one prefer to not eat pesticides of any kind whenever possible.
Looking forward to visiting the Dublin Whole Foods as well as my usual favs - Genes, Trader Joes, and Sprouts. I'm thankful to have choices.

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