SCHERERVILLE| The new Schererville Whole Foods will have a large sit-down restaurant serving breakfast, and "bar food done really well" for lunch and dinner, with local favorite Three Floyds on tap.
More than a thousand people turned out Saturday to learn more about the eagerly awaited organic grocery store, which opens on Sept. 23. They came for a chance to try free samples and meet vendors like MightyVine, a farm in Illinois that grows premium tomatoes in a 7-acre greenhouse and will ship them to Schererville within a day of when they ripen on the vine.
Whole Foods team members from across Chicagoland will be on hand to help out with the expected crush of customers when the 40,000-square-foot supermarket opens later this month.
The new store will feature more than 200 varieties of local, seasonal and organic produce. True Blue Farms, for instance, grows blueberries about 100 miles north in South Haven, Mich., on bushes that are up to 80 years old. It can send blueberries to Whole Foods' Munster warehouse within a day of when they're harvested.
About 25 to 30 percent of the produce at the Schererville store will be locally grown, said Brent Strayer, store team leader.
"They can expect an awesome store," he said. "We tailored the store to this community and selected a lot of local products. They can expect a lot of fun and great all-natural products."
A sit-down restaurant will seat 100 to 150 people, and serve items like burgers, wings and salads. It will be open from around 8 a.m. or 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. with last call at around 9:30 p.m., Strayer said. The restaurant will feature a full bar that will initially have a range of Three Floyds beers on draft.
The supermarket at 199 U.S. 41 in the Shops on Main shopping center in Schererville also will have a seating area up front where people could enjoy offerings from the salad bar, coffee bar and juice bar, such as mochas, lattes or fresh-squeezed orange juice. Juices will be made to order, and made-in-house cold-pressed juices will be available in bottles.
Daily sales are planned when the store first opens, and vendors will be on hand. MightyVine came out Saturday to show its Robino and Roterno tomatoes, which are grown year-round in a greenhouse.
"They're grown year-round and local, supplying the Chicago, Indiana and Milwaukee markets, canceling the transportation time during the harsh winters when most of our tomatoes come from Mexico and California," said Daniel Murphy, who handles business development for the farm. "If it ripens today, we can have it on your plate tomorrow. We can keep them on the vine for longer and have them ripen fully. When tomatoes come from Mexico or California, they're gassed in transport. That's why they look ripe when you get them but don't taste very good."
Through December, customers who shop at the Schererville Whole Foods with their own reusable bags will save 10 cents on every bag, which they can keep or donate to Lake County-based Planting Possibilities through the One Dime at a Time Partner.
Planting Possibilities teaches young adults with autism or development disabilities horticulture, so they can gain job skills. They're hoping to buy a property, and the Whole Foods promotion should help greatly, founder and president Mary Anne Neiner said.
"This is so wonderful," she said. "It's such great exposure for us. You can donate money to us and it's not going to some executive in New York. It will say in the local community and it benefits people right here."