STREETERVILLE — Streeterville neighbors lined Columbus Drive in anticipation of the Whole Foods store that opened Wednesday morning. The Chicago area's 20th Whole Foods store at 255 E. Grand Ave. includes exclusive new features like a ramen bar and focaccia pizza station. Another feature: a bar that opens at 11 a.m. Monday through Thursday, and 9 a.m. Friday through Sunday. A separate wine bar opens at noon daily.
The 50,000-square-foot store replaces a Dominick's Finer Foods that closed in 2013. After Dominick's closed, Streeterville resident Emily Hall, 26, had to walk a mile to the next-nearest grocery store. She was among the first customers checking out Whole Foods on Wednesday morning.
"It's very convenient," she said. "It's a little more expensive than Dominick's, but I knew that."
Another customer, 30-year-old Drew McElligott of Streeterville, is also happy about shorter grocery trips.
"[Whole Foods] couldn't have picked a better time to get here," he said. "You'd get frostbite getting milk."
Before the grand opening, a Whole Foods executive spoke about the length of time the chain took to deliver a quality store. Preparation for the store's opening took about 13 months after the closing of Dominick's, while Streeterville residents lamented the lack of available grocery options.
"We understand the community was distressed we didn't reopen in three weeks," Whole Foods Regional President Michael Bashaw said. "If we did that, it wouldn't have been a Whole Foods."