Is San Francisco ready for Whole Foods Market? You bet, according to David Lannon, manager of the 17,000-square-foot natural and organic foods store on Franklin (at California) that will open its doors next March, complete with a separate bakery/cafe and parking garage with 120 spaces. "There's nobody like us" in town, Lannon told Dish. Real Foods Co. (with stores on Polk, 24th Street, and Stanyan, plus two in Marin) is "so much smaller," Lannon says, adding, "We consider regular supermarkets our real competition." Whole Foods has come a long way since its first store opened in Texas in 1980. There are now 42 stores nationwide. San Francisco will be the flagship store in Northern California, where Whole Foods Markets are located in Mill Valley, Berkeley, Los Gatos, Palo Alto, Campbell, and Cupertino. Whole Foods went public two years ago, and shoppers with a little extra cash are advised at the cash register that they can purchase stock on the NASDAQ.
One guy who's not thrilled about the coming of Whole Foods is Kamron Beikzadeh, owner of Village Market on California at Eighth Avenue. "They're a big business who could care less about natural foods. They're just looking to make money," says Beikzadeh. Whole Foods carries commercially grown grapes -- "the biggest sin" because the pesticides used to grow them have resulted in birth defects among workers, he explains, adding that they "carry a number of products you'd find in 7-Eleven, like Pepperidge Farm cookies." Beikzadeh expects the new Whole Foods will hurt existing natural foods stores in the city initially, but the customers will come back. "People come in knowing I'm the owner and I'm here to provide a quality service."
Lannon says Whole Foods' "goal is to be always organic," but when organic produce is not available, the stores fill in with commercially grown. "We're a supermarket, and we have to carry bananas," he says. During the winter months, the store is 50 percent organic; the ratio goes up to 95 percent in the summer, according to Lannon.
Corn Dog Heaven
Dish made her annual trip to Santa Cruz last week, ostensibly to introduce her small son to the thrills of the boardwalk. If the truth be told, the journey was a thinly disguised summer corn-dog pilgrimage. Where else but the boardwalk can one consume an extra-long hot dog on a stick coated in deep-fried cornmeal? A corn dog a day for three days, a couple of rides on the Giant Dipper, and Dish was more than ready to return north to the land of rare duck and wild mushrooms. But next July's corn-dog extravaganza is already booked.