Hey, I visited the world’s first outlet for “365.” This is Whole Foods new spin off meant for the younger poorer hipsters, vegans and foodies who can’t afford the real Whole Foods. What was it like?
Well, it was in ultra cool Silver Lake in what had been a nice mid-sized Ralph’s market. How cool and hip? In the crowded parking lot as I waited for a car to pull out, an intense looking young woman with odd hair and long dangling ear rings cut me off and snatched the space. She had a Bernie bumper strip on her Prius, so she was for peace, love and vegetables on the outside but she was a greedy cut throat egomaniac who grab the space I was waiting for. At least she wasn’t texting while she did the deed.
When you walk into the large open space it is almost Costco spartan. Concrete floor, open rafters with wires and ducts in full view. On the left was a very large produce area, on the back wall was meat to the left and dairy to the right. The far wall on the right was beer and beverages. In the center were cold and hot ready to eat items: salad bars, soup bars, Asian food tables, hip vegan and vegetarian tables and a long unit of olives and marinated veg. However the first thing you saw was a YUGE pile of Pabst Blue Ribbon 12 can half cases — tipping you off that 365 was aiming at bright young hip people. PBR is the brand of choice among the young in case you didn’t know. It is like the “animal” beers were for us in the 1980’s. (Admit it, back then we all drank cool suds like Moosehead, Elephant Malt, and other up scale brews.) There also was a small display of blanc, rosé & rouge bottles of Le Vielle Ferme, which is very good quality mass produced French plonk favored by older wiser patrons. The bottles have a prancing goat logo.
Looking at the ready to eat cold and hot tables I thought is was nice looking faux ethnic chow at not that bad prices. Going over to the produce area I was pleased to see that the selection of organic fruit and vegetables was wide ranging and good looking. It was far bigger and better than Trader Joe’s and about the same as the major supermarkets with a modest bump in price. This area was worth it and well done. The meat area was new to me and everything was ever so specially grown and slaughtered. I am not familiar with the producers and their brands so I take it they well known to regular Whole Foods shoppers. One thing that struck me as interesting were four pound boned lamb shoulders (American grass fed, not Aussie or Kiwi sheep) that were available plain or marinated in Latin American rubs or Greek style herb rubs. The one product I liked on my previous visits to Whole Foods was the black plastic boxes that sold for about $20 that offered meals ready to prepare in your crock pot. These were pot roasts, beef stew, beef goulash, and so on with the meat, vegetables, sauces and seasonings that guaranteed a good healthy and hearty meal for two three or four when you got home. I imagine 365 is aimed at singles or couples and not working parents who like loading the crock pot in the morning and having a good meal waiting them, their spouse and children when they get home.
Over all I found 365 interesting and much of the stuff of good or very good quality and for the most part reasonably fair in price. It is much more approachable than most Whole Foods stores where you feel you must very thin, very well to do, casually dress in designer duds and having parked a Tesla, BMW or just a Prius in the lot out front. I should point out that I visited 365 in mid-afternoon and half the shoppers were on Medicare like me. Outside working hours I was told it is jammed with single 20 somethings who are looking for organic kale and goats milk yogurt and maybe hooking up with another 20 something they meet in Produce or over at the cold table with twenty kinds of olives and marinated veg. It must be a modern day update Omar Khayyam’s promise:
A Book of Verses underneath the Bough,
A Jug of Wine, a Loaf of Bread–and Thou,Beside me singing in the Wilderness–Oh, Wilderness were Paradise enow!!
In Silver Lake today, it’s an I-pad, a dozen Pabst Blue Ribbon, a plastic tray of orzo salad and you babe. The one thing that irritated me big time was that all the under 35 dudes and chicks were leaning against the display cases texting up a storm. In a better world I would expect them to be flirting over the organic nectarines and the four colors of organic Swiss Chard.