Make us your home page
Instagram

Publix takes fresh approach with GreenWise Market

TAMPA

For $6.99, there's a Peruvian quinoa salad or a vegan black bean burger on organic bread. The stuffed pepper laced with tofu and barley goes for $7.49. A pound of edamame caviar salad fetches $7.49.

But Publix deli fried chicken was banished in favor of a baked alternative that seems healthier — until you learn the crispy coating is soaked in buttermilk.

Publix GreenWise Market is nothing like the 1,000 traditional stores run by the nation's fourth-largest supermarket chain.

The Lakeland company's first bay area take on a natural/organic supermarket opens Thursday in Hyde Park at Armenia Avenue and W Azeele Street. It's the third of the chain's experimental GreenWise chain after Boca Raton and Palm Beach Gardens and the first built from the ground up. Two more will take over former Albertsons locations in Tallahassee and Winter Park. A hybrid will be branded as a Publix in Naples.

The curious should bring an appetite. And extra cash. That's unless they can withstand the temptations of over-the-top displays, flashy exhibition cooking and tantalizing scents of an array of freshly prepared foods made to be eaten at a 45-seat patio or more likely taken home and microwaved for five minutes.

"This store is all about the shopping experience and the food," said Shannon Patten, Publix spokeswoman.

Publix pulled out all the stops. There's an open-flame broiler and wood-fired pizza oven. The men's room has waterless urinals and an LED message board on the mirror flashing the date and time. Stainless-steel elevators and escalators ferry carts and shoppers to the roof-top garage.

All that restaurant-quality food requires seven trained chefs and a staff of 190 — 50 more than a traditional Publix a third larger.

Each employee has a pager so there aren't any PA interruptions for "cleanup on Aisle 6." Lottery tickets and Western Union services, Publix decided, don't fit the theme, either.

While GreenWise stocks top-selling basics like Cheese-Its and Colgate, the brown shelf tags for natural/organic foods dominate.

If this seems a bad time to unveil a supermarket stuffed with premium-priced organics, natural foods and top-of-the-line gourmet fare, welcome to the club. After all, studies show that most Americans hold the line on food spending as a percentage of their income even in this time of soaring prices. Whether those committed to foods made without artificial color, preservatives, pesticides or antibiotics stick to their guns as the economy and their discretionary income goes south remains to be seen. Already, sales and profit at chains like Whole Foods Natural Markets have softened dramatically.

GreenWise Market, however, is Publix's competitive answer to Whole Foods and others like Fresh Market that moved into its home state to skim the cream in top-income neighborhoods.

That's why the GreenWise food court and bakery is twice the size of what's found in Whole Foods. The prices are a tad lower. And the high-end selection goes higher. For instance, free-range chicken is only the starting point in a meat department that leaps above Whole Foods to 20 styles of fresh sausage, USDA prime beef and $64-a-pound Kobe steaks.

Initially, Publix toed the purist line, offering only natural and organics. But it found at the first store that organic fans have indulgences, too. So Coke and Pepsi appeared.

Appealing to all tastes sticks out in a wine section stocked with both $800 Bordeaux and Franzia in a box. The top-selling wine at the Palm Beach Gardens store: $21 Evolution.

Publix runs GreenWise stores separately with their own advertising, coupons and products that cannot be special-ordered from other Publix stores.

And for dieters wondering just what's in those tasty restaurant-quality meals, Publix is working up nutritional labels.

Mark Albright can be reached at albright@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8252.

GreenWise Markets

Where they are: Boca Raton, Palm Beach Gardens

Where they will be: Tampa (opens Thursday),
Tallahassee, Winter Park

Publix takes fresh approach with GreenWise Market 11/03/08 [Last modified: Friday, November 7, 2008 12:28pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Report slams Pinellas construction licensing agency and leaders

    Local Government

    LARGO — The Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board mismanaged its finances, lacked accountability and disregarded its own rules, according to a scathing report released Wednesday by the county's inspector general.

    Rodney Fischer, the executive director of the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board, resigned in January.  [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]
  2. A meatless burger that tastes like meat? Ciccio Restaurants will serve the Impossible Burger.

    Food & Dining

    TAMPA — The most red-hot hamburger in the nation right now contains no meat.

    Ciccio executive chef Luis Flores prepares an Impossible Burger Wednesday at the Epicurean Hotel Food Theatre in Tampa.
  3. Construction starts on USF medical school, the first piece of Tampa's Water Street project

    Health

    TAMPA — Dozens of workers in hard hats and boots were busy at work at the corner of South Meridian Avenue and Channelside Drive Wednesday morning, signaling the start of construction on the University of South Florida's new Morsani College of Medicine and Heart Institute.

    Construction is underway for the new Morsani College of Medicine and USF Health Heart Institute in downtown Tampa. This view is from atop Amalie Arena, where local officials gathered Wednesday to celebrate the first piece of what will be the new Water Street District. The USF building is expected to open in late 2019. [ALESSANDRA DA PRA  |   Times]
  4. Tampa Bay among top 25 metro areas with fastest growing economies

    Economic Development

    Tampa Bay had the 24th fastest growing economy among 382 metro areas in the country for 2016. According to an analysis by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, Tampa Bay's gross domestic product, or GDP, increased 4.2 percent from 2015 to 2016 to hit $126.2 billion.

    Tampa Bay had the 24th fastest growing economy in the country for 2016. Rentals were one of the areas that contributed to Tampa Bay's GDP growth. Pictured is attorney David Eaton in front of his rental home. 
[SCOTT KEELER | Times]
  5. Tampa Bay cools down to more moderate home price increases

    Real Estate

    The increase in home prices throughout much of the Tampa Bay area is definitely slowing from the torrid rate a year ago.

    This home close to Bayshore Boulevard in Tampa sold for $3.055 million in August, making it Hillsborough County's top sale of the month. [Courtesy of Bredt Cobitz]