Step inside the new Whole Foods Market in Downtown LA and you might just have to pinch yourself. Can it be true that the coveted market chain from Austin known for their fresh organic foods has finally opened here in LA’s urban core? A place once completely abandoned, left for dead, and now on the verge of a complete comeback like no one could have imagined. Yes, it’s true and it’s definitely not just a really good dream. In fact, some might say the opening of Whole Foods means Downtown LA has truly arrived — for good.
After almost 3 years since the exciting rumors first got out that Whole Foods was coming to 8th and Grand, the grocery store opens this week to the public officially on November 4 at 9 am where a “bread breaking ceremony” will take place along with a full day of celebration. The 41,000 square foot market occupies the ground floor of the also-new 8th & Grand mixed-use project with 700 luxury apartments above Whole Foods making for a nice built-in customer base for sure.
It’s hard to imagine now standing inside this glorious Whole Foods with its hip and modern decor, that just over three years ago nothing but a huge surface parking lot existed here. A huge expanse of asphalt the size of almost three football fields that did a damn good job destroying the urban fabric and preventing Downtown LA from maturing into a walkable urban city center that we urbanphiles so desperately yearn for.
Today, although the market’s exterior design is not without its flaws (walls along 8th Street and Olive Street with no pedestrian activation), it is still a huge triumph in Downtown LA’s march toward urban revitalization. With the market’s main front entrance along Grand Ave and a restaurant/bar (aptly named The Eight Bar) oriented toward the corner of 8th and Grand, other projects surrounding the market — Carmel’s residential tower, Dunkin’ Donuts’ first downtown store, etc. — will eventually pick up the slack when it comes to pedestrian activation.
What I love about the new DTLA Whole Foods is how much personalization went into the store given its unique location in Downtown LA. Not only is the restaurant/bar named The Eight Bar (for 8th Street), but upon entering the market, you will see a huge navy blue “8th + Grand” sign above the escalators that leads to the underground parking lot (there’s 90 minute free parking with validation). Even the Art Deco blade signs throughout the store denoting such things as “Coffee” or “Pizza” were inspired by downtown’s beautiful Union Station.
Oh, and one more nice surprise. Downtown LA’s Whole Foods will also have a Chego store-within-store concept so you’ll be able to grab those yummy pork belly bowls right here in the Financial District without having to schlep up to Chinatown.
Whole Foods in Downtown LA will be open every day from 7 am to 10 pm. If demand is high enough, I was told the store could extend its business hours until possibly as late as midnight.
Enjoy the tour of Downtown LA’s beautiful new Whole Foods Market!