Kahala Mall bags gourmet grocer
Whole Foods prepares Kahala site for store
KAHALA MALL is getting ready to welcome the long-awaited Whole Foods Market chain to Hawaii.
A Hawaiian blessing will be held for Whole Foods at Kahala Mall on Monday morning, signaling the start of the Texas-based company's work on the former Star Market space.
The new store is slated to go into the 26,000-square-foot space vacated by Star Market in March, although exact design details have yet to be revealed. It is expected to open early next year.
WHOLE FOODS MARKET
» Co-founder, chairman and CEO: John Mackey
» Average store size: 32,000 square feet
» Number of stores: About 200 in North America and the United Kingdom
» Nasdaq stock ticker symbol: WFMI
» Founded: 1980
Whole Foods still plans to anchor a mixed-use development project at the former Ward Village Shops site, although it now appears the Kahala Mall store will open first.
Kahala Mall tenants welcomed the arrival of the new natural-foods grocer, which is one of the largest of its type in the nation and has a reputation for supporting local farmers.
A HAWAIIAN BLESSING is scheduled for Whole Foods Market on Monday at Kahala Mall, the site of what will likely be the natural-food retailing chain's first Hawaii store.
The Texas-based Whole Foods Market chain, which originally planned to open its first Hawaii store at the former Ward Village Shops site, is now preparing to retrofit the 26,000-square-foot space vacated by Star Market for its new store.
Invitations to attend Monday's Kahala blessing have gone out over the last several days to a variety of recipients, including the governor's office and the Hawaii Farm Bureau.
No official opening date has yet been set for the Kahala Mall Whole Foods store, although a spokeswoman for a local public-relations firm hired by Whole Foods said yesterday the opening is expected around the beginning of next year.
Whole Foods Market remains slated to open as the anchor of a mixed-use development project at the former Ward Village Shops site.
Developer General Growth Properties has said it plans to complete that complex on schedule sometime next year.
But additional sets of iwi, or native Hawaiian remains, may have put a wrench into those plans, as the count grew to 47 in May. General Growth is embroiled in lawsuits filed by the Native Hawaiian Legal Corp., which is representing one of the recognized descendants of the iwi.
While the space at Kahala Mall is smaller than the typical Whole Foods store, the chain has opened smaller stores on the mainland.
It has a 28,000-square-foot store in Palo Alto, Calif., as well as a 17,500-square-foot store in Boston.
The company's average store size is about 32,000 square feet, according to Whole Foods' corporate Web site. Whole Foods also has nine distribution centers -- from Florida to the Midwest to the Southern Pacific, the category under which Hawaii falls.
Whole Foods Market, one of the largest retailers of natural and organic foods, will be sure to provide competition for many of the smaller natural foods stores already established in Honolulu.
Besides a large section of produce, it typically offers a large salad bar as well as a hot foods, bakery and deli section, along with aisles of supplements, household, health and beauty goods.
Some Whole Foods on the mainland also offer an in-house gelato bar, fresh seafood counter, barbecue and smoked meat station, and olive oil- and vinegar-tasting station.
Though it has come under criticism and scrutiny by some proponents of the natural foods movement, Whole Foods' reputation is centered on its efforts to offer high-quality produce while remaining dedicated to sustainable agriculture and the support of local farmers.
Tenants at Kahala Mall welcomed the opening of another grocery store at the mall, and said it should fit in well with the neighborhood -- one of the wealthiest zip codes on Oahu.
Whole Foods Market, founded in 1980 in Austin, Texas, employs about 39,000 in total and has nearly 200 locations in North America and the United Kingdom.
Whole Foods chairman and CEO John Mackey said the company has opened 15 stores over the last year and that the company is still on track to open more stores than ever this fiscal year.