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New 2-Story Whole Foods in Pasadena: WOW

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We've driven by the Whole-Foods-to-be site for months now. Waiting. Wishing. While we don't shop at Whole Foods all the time (we love you Whole Foods, but your prices on many common items are just short of outrageous) there are a few grocery items we're partial to that we just can't get anywhere else. When we run out of these particular food items, the trek to the really far-away Pasadena or Glendale Whole Foods is a painful one, and we always put it off as long as possible.

So imagine our delight now that you (and we feel we can address you directly, Whole Foods, because we've waited for you so very long) are open. All two stories of you are open and wide-eyed and smiling and ready for business.

At 8pm last night, you were half-full of awe-struck customers, wandering the aisles in amazement. Running their hands along products, sampling your samples, soaking in your just-opened vibe. Most of them were smiling to themselves and to complete strangers, sharing knowing glances that said "can you believe this magical place we've stumbled into?" While we recognized some of your signature sections from the other stores (which now pale in comparison), part of you seems like a grocery-store Disneyland. A nut roaster? A massage parlor? A wine and tapas bar with daily wine tastings? Really? Are these things necessary?

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1st Floor...

Just as you enter, there's a juice bar.

And vegetables so gorgeous you want to dream up new ways to cook them just so you can try them all. (Also, they must have someone who stacks the veggies full time. Look how perfect they are!)

The seafood section had fish we've never heard of, never seen.

Customers asked many questions about the selection and, of course, wanted to try the pre-cooked samples.

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We've seen many things at Whole Foods, but never entire tables of handmade soap (a la Lather). We thought it was a bit odd, sitting there across from the wall of tea, but customers couldn't get enough. People shopped the handmade soap table throughout the night.

Hard to imagine, but true! The new Whole Foods offers massages daily from 8am - 9:30pm.

$6 for 5 min
$12 for 10 min
$18 for 15 min
$24 for 20 min
$30 for 25 min
$36 for 30 min
$42 for 35 min
$45 for 40 min
$54 for 45 min
$60 for 50 min
$66 for 55 min
$72 for 60 min

Going Up...

The magical 2nd floor...

At 9pm, the Wine & Tapas bar was still full of people deep in conversation and people-watching. We're not quite sure how you'd be able to relax as shoppers swarm all about you (we'd prefer to spend time at a real wine & tapas joint) but these folks seemed to be enjoying it.

All the meat your heart desires...

...and all the cheese we love.

Cheese lane...

Juice bar, nut bar, pizza bar, bread bar, tapas bar and wine bar not enough for you? Why not try the coffee bar?

Hand-tossed, oven-baked pizzas were yours to nibble while you shop, to eat in the Cucina, or to take home and devour. They have bar-style seating and cafe-style seating, depending on what height you prefer when you sit down to eat. There were so many choices, some customers had a hard time deciding what to order. They switched back and forth between counters, bars and cases. Should I get this? Or what about this? Maybe this? One young man seemed so overwhelmed with the range of choices, he simply stood next to the hot food takeaway bar, eyes glazed over, and waited for his girlfriend to take charge.

Bread, glorious bread...

What's that you say? A Chocolate & Gelato Bar? Um, yeah. Upon discovering this section of the store, all else faded away.

With three levels of underground parking and miles of yummy things to buy, we see the attraction of you Whole Foods, we do. You just seem...excessive, in the most eco-friendly way possible. (Is such a thing possible?) There was so much of you to take in, so many new things around every turn, we half-expected a ride or two. Seriously.

But for all your almost-too-muchness, we give you infinte props for the chocolate portion of the store. You had us at gelato...

Whole Foods Market
465 South Arroyo Parkway
(South Arroyo Parkway and Bellevue Drive)
Pasadena, CA 91105

All pictures by Callie Miller for LAist

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