EDGEWATER — Hundreds of Edgewater residents flocked to Whole Foods Market's newest store Wednesday, lining up well before the doors opened at 9 a.m.
First in line were Houston Woolery, 28, and fiancee Christine Hughes, 29, who live down the block from the former Dominick's store, at 6009 N. Broadway.
"We actually asked if we could camp out [overnight]," Woolery said, "but they said no. We were hoping they would give us free food."
The couples said they changed their camping plans and got up early instead to still be first in line at 6:15 a.m.
Hundreds of other people — many hoping to be among the first 500 shoppers to get a gift card worth between $5 and $50 (with one lucky shopper getting a $500 card) — soon joined them.
Edgewater Whole Foods first shoppers (c.) broke bread to mark the store's opening Wednesday. (DNAinfo/Ben Woodard)
Woolery and Hughes said Whole Foods was their go-to grocery store and typically travel by train to get to a store.
"It's nice to not have to go to Lakeview or Evanston anymore," Woolery said.
Before the doors slid open, Ald. Harry Osterman (48th) and a Whole Foods official offered a few remarks.
"Did anyone else think there would be sunshine?," Osterman said to applause as the morning sun beat down on those gathered. "I feel like it's getting warmer here because of Whole Foods opening."
Osterman has said the 54,000-square-foot Whole Foods should attract more businesses to North Broadway.
"Today Whole Foods becomes a part of the community," he said. "We have to welcome them with open arms."
Whole Foods regional president Michael Bashaw said the Edgewater store was the 30th he'd opened with the company.
"I think this is one of the most beautiful stores we've ever done," he said, while offering an assurance to those worried the store would follow in Dominick's footsteps. "I can tell you this store is going to be here for a very long time. We are committed."
The store features the Broadway and Norwood Cafe, which includes seating and serves pasta, grilled cheese sandwiches and wine by the glass near the west side of the store. On the east side, customers will find the Red Star Diner with 24 beers on tap, including Edgewater Ale — an American Pale Ale brewed exclusively for the store by Ravenswood's Begyle Brewing Co.
On the south wall of the store, customers will find lots of food ready to order, including seafood, cheese, and smoked meat from one of its commercial, indoor smokers.
There's also a wood-fired barbecue grill, ramen and stir-fry station and a store-made naan and pita station.
Chicago artist Aaron Wooten completed a mural of Edgewater above the coolers for dairy and juice.
The Edgewater location is the fourth of seven Whole Foods Markets that are planned to open in the Chicago area this year.