A crowd of people gathered on the sidewalk of Channelside Drive and Water Street Thursday morning as Mayor Jane Castor welcomed them to Tampa’s only Publix GreenWise Market.
Castor stood next to store manager Scott Guira as he held giant scissors to cut the ribbon and mark the occasion. Masked employees lined the entrance and clapped for each customer as they entered the store for the first time. Other workers handed out free samples of chocolate chip cookies, bacon and crackers with brie and tangerine spread from the Dalmatian coast in Croatia.
The GreenWise store is the latest addition to Water Street Tampa, the downtown development by Strategic Property Partners, a real estate firm backed by Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik and Bill Gates’ Cascade Investment. The store is part of Heron, the first apartment tower to open as part of the 50-plus acre project. Along with apartments, there’s a parking garage above the store for customers to use.
The 26,000-square-foot store offers a longer list of organic and specialty food products than your average Publix. It fits in with the “holistic lifestyle” and vision for Water Street Tampa, according to SPP. The Publix store was identified as a “critical anchor” of the overall project from the beginning, real estate officials said. It also fills a shopping void for downtown Tampa residents, and with more to come with condominiums and apartments under construction.
From the inside, the new GreenWise store looks a lot like a traditional Publix but with more bells and whistles. There’s a fridge filled with rows of kombucha in the produce section, a jar of bee pollen priced around $12 next to the honey and cans of collagen sparkling tea. Shoppers can have a machine grind Jim’s organic coffee beans from coarse to espresso-fine.
“There’s a lot of GreenWise brand products,” said Laurie Yoho, a resident of the nearby Harbour Island in Tampa. “My husband really liked the coffee bar.”
Yoho said she came for the celebration and to compare what a GreenWise Market has to a regular Publix store. She said there was a wider variety of organic items and more in the grab-and-go buffet.
Some aisles have self-serve options, where shoppers can get rice, quinoa, nuts or dried fruits by the pound. There’s also a pour-your-own virgin coconut oil, honey, agave or liquid aminos seasoning (which is similar to soy sauce) station.
“Our curated mix of high-quality specialty make-at-home and grab and go items will add a level of convenience for residents and visitors looking for easy meal solutions as they enjoy the events and activities available in the surrounding area,” said Publix President Kevin Murphy in a statement.
The Tampa store is Publix’s ninth GreenWise Market, but not the first in Tampa. One of the first in the chain operated in South Tampa’s Hyde Park for nearly 10 years before it was rebranded into a regular Publix store in 2019. A 10th GreenWise Market is set to open in St. Augustine. Another opened last year in Odessa.
“It looks very convenient and clean. There’s a lot of items for such a small space,” said Karen Benson, a South Tampa resident who came to the opening.
At the deli, Pub sub loyalists will find their favorites and more speciality offerings, including smoked pork loin Cuban sandwiches and Boar’s Head cuts. The counter also include fresh popcorn popped daily and 13 flavors of chicken wings. It’s hard to miss the large display with dozens of gourmet cheeses.
The GreenWise Market also has a “Pours” station, a bar concept offering coffee, tea, smoothies, wine, craft beer on tap and more kombucha, which shoppers can sip while they shop.