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Houston's incredible new Whole Foods: Beercycle in the aisles, souvlaki grill and parking spaces with stoplights

Inside incredible new Whole Foods: Ready for Beercycle in the aisles?

For once, The Galleria area's hottest shopping destination isn't in a mall. The new Whole Foods Market Post Oak in BLVD Place, which will open to the public on Thursday, is loaded with features to separate itself from other gourmet grocers. 

At 55,000 square feet, this flagship is the second largest Whole Foods in Houston, just behind the Sugar Land location. The company is using the extra space to provide more than 500 locally sourced offerings and more than 300 organic items. Gluten-free and other specialty items are always clearly identified.

 The biggest highlight is the store's in-house brewery. 

The biggest highlight is the store's in-house brewery. Known as the Whole Foods Market Brewing Co., the store will featuring a rotating selection of four to eight beers brewed onsite that follow a variety of styles. Brewmaster Dave Ohmer, who moved to Houston from Knoxville to take the job, plans to keep things fresh by incorporating fresh items from the market into some of the beers.

Shoppers can consume their brews in the store's brewpub, upstairs in a posh lounge overlooking the store, or purchased from a tricycle outfitted with two taps that will roll throughout the store. 

Plenty of food options are available to pair with the beer.

The Soulvaki Grill features Greek specialties prepared on a wood-fired grill. A new taco stand and sandwich shop offers a wide variety of build-your-own choices. Barbecue that's smoked in the store, pizzas made in an Italian oven with a rotating deck, and, of course, freshly rolled sushi are also available. Even the juice bar has been upgraded with a cold-press option that's the first of its kind at a Whole Foods in Houston.

 Even the juice bar has been upgraded with a cold-press option that's the first of its kind at a Whole Foods in Houston. 

As you can see in the video, the pizza looks the part. Having tried a slice, it tastes as good as it looks. 

Beyond food, the Greenhouse features clothing, accessories and retail items made with natural products, a complement to the full selection to health and beauty items. 

Even with all of those choices, the company has worked hard to shed the "Whole Paycheck" moniker.

"When you look at the value of our items compared to some of our retail competitors, we show a great value," Micahel Mead, store team leader, tells CultureMap. "We always want our guests to know we don't live up to that stigma anymore."

The company is excited about finally being part of The Galleria.

 The store has a dedicated garage entrance and a system of red and green lights that directs drivers to empty parking spaces. 

"This is the one section of Houston that I think we were really missing out on," Mead notes. "We wanted to be part of it. Obviously, this is a great location."

The Galleria area may be known for lots of traffic, but Whole Foods has worked hard to help shoppers find parking. The store has a dedicated garage entrance from Post Oak Boulevard and a system of red and green lights that directs drivers to empty parking spaces. A magnetic escalator ramp holds carts in place for the ride down. 

Expect big crowds throughout the opening weekend as people come to check out the special deals and tastings, but at least the madness will have a lasting impact in the community. Credit for that goes to a program that will donate one-percent of sales to a different charity for each of the first five days, including Star of Hope, the Houston Police Foundation, Buffalo Bayou Partnership, Recipe for Success and Fresh Arts

The opening festivities kick off 7:30 a.m. Thursday with a bread-breaking ceremony. The first 500 shoppers through the door will receive a reusable shopping bag.

Whole Foods Post Oak video tour
The new Whole Foods will open on Thursday. Photo by Joel Luks
Whole Foods Post Oak video tour
Look out over shoppers in the upstairs lounge.  Photo by Joel Luks
Whole Foods Post Oak video tour
Visit the brewpub to sample the beers brewed in the store.  Photo by Joel Luks
Whole Foods Post Oak video tour
Brewmaster Dave Ohmer shows off the tricycle that will wheel two slim kegs around the store.  Photo by Joel Luks
Whole Foods Post Oak video tour
Whole Foods Post Oak video tour
Whole Foods Post Oak video tour
Whole Foods Post Oak video tour