The local area’s first high-end supermarket opens its doors Wednesday at 8:45 a.m. For the store’s staff, this week so far has been a race to the finish line, stocking shelves, testing equipment, and placing the first orders for meat, seafood and produce.
The supermarket chain prides itself on freshness as well as the encouragement of healthy eating. The meat the store sells is sourced from animals treated humanely and the fish in the seafood market is caught fresh daily by local fishermen as well as the company’s private dock in New England. A testament to the fresh philosophy, there was no meat or seafood to speak of in the store’s coolers Monday afternoon, as deliveries bring in new products on a daily basis.
The 39,000 square foot store is larger than the supermarket chain’s Marlboro location and just a hair smaller than the Middletown location. Store officials expect the Wall Township location to draw customers from southern Monmouth and northern Ocean counties.
The store is decked out in beach-themed decor, and has placed a special emphasis on locally-sourced products.
“Every store that we create is very different and based on the community,” said Jennifer Heal, who works on the company’s marketing team.
A unique aspect of the Wall Township store is an expanded Italian food section, combining two ideas that have taken off in other New Jersey locations.
“We are well-known for our prepared foods, and two of the things we’ve done really well with in New Jersey are our pizza program and our Italian sandwich program,” Heal said. “Here, we’ve combined the two and added al forno brick oven meals. We created this lovely Italian counter where families and friends can come and enjoy a great meal or take a great meal home.”
Also featured are high-quality jarred sauces specially made by The Meatball Shop in Manhattan.
The store carries most of the items you’d find in a traditional supermarket, but healthier, organically-produced, locally-sourced and high quality brands and varieties. Products sold in the store’s meat department come with an animal welfare grade, and the store has worked with the Marine Stewardship Council to rate all seafood products.
The “lowest” rating a piece of meat can receive, step one, still means the farm from which the animal had no cages, no crates and no crowding.
“Vendors have to work very hard even to qualify for step one,” said Heal.
The store has a full-time butcher where customers can order custom cuts of meat, from brisket to filet mignon. Available at the new location will be the custom “Wall Burger,” a hamburger made of pulled pork and beef.
“If you wanted a filet mignon burger, we could do that,” said Heal.
Whole Foods also carries natural beauty products, sushi, aisles of prepared food made daily, seasonally-themed foods and a coffee, juice and smoothie bar. There is ample seating for customers to enjoy food on the premises. The store also features a large bakery department with in house baked breads, cakes and other sweet creations.
The store officially opens at 8:45 a.m. with Whole Foods’ customary bread-breaking session, followed by an array of tastings, vendor samplings, sales, giveaways, and other events for the whole family.
As part of the company’s commitment to its local communities, Allaire Community Farm will receive 5 percent of the store’s sales from opening day to support a sanctuary within Wall Township. Proceeds will go towards the farm’s continued development of a safe and peaceful place for rescued animals, nature, healthy produce and community interactions. Allaire Community Farm also provides a caring environment for children with special needs and at-risk teens, as well as low cost, organic produce to families in need.
The store is located at 1933 Route 35, Wall Township.