Whole Foods is for business on the South Fork.
On a rainy Tuesday morning, the gourmet grocery store unlocked the doors to its first-ever , at the western edge of the Town of East Hampton, right in time for Memorial Day weekend.
The 7,000-square-foot pop-up shop, inside the former Plitt Ford dealership and garage at 368 Montauk Highway, is the grocery giant's store furthest east on Long Island.
While shoppers have long been pleading for a Whole Foods, or a Trader Joe's, to set up shop on the East End, there wasn't exactly a line around the block waiting for the doors to open at 8 a.m. No one could make use of the picnic tables in the parking lot due to the heavy rain. There were, however, dozens of local and corporate employees putting the finishing touches on everything from the canopy outside to setting up the vegetables.
"I'm very excited," said a local woman who was the first customer, but declined to give her name. "I just wish I knew it was here year-round," she told the cashier, later adding that the local grocery stores carry "the worst produce" in the winter.
The woman, who said she lived around the corner, had never been in a Whole Foods before, so she wasn't sure what to expect. "I'm overwhelmed," she said about the selection.
Featuring Whole Foods' expected products of high-quality, least-processed, natural foods, the FARM Stand also sells some local goods, like Southampton's Tate's Bake Shop cookies, Hamptons Honey, and North Fork vegetables and fruit.
"These will change as the season comes into play," said Michael Sinatra, a Whole Foods spokesman who was at the store on Tuesday morning, as he pointed out chalkboard signs naming the local farms; Satur Farms (North Fork) for salad greens, micro greens and Heirloom lettuces, Flora Farms (Mattituck) for Heirloom and Beefsteak tomatoes, Lenny Bruno Farms (Manorville) for leeks, Joe Casa Farm (North Fork) for radishes, arugala, spinach, and strawberries.
In addition to both local and non-local fruits and vegetables, there's pre-packaged prepared foods that will come in fresh daily from the nearest location in Lake Gove. There's a coffee counter by the front door and the breakfast and baked goods section for those who want to get in and get out.
Other options include gluten-free, organic, and whole and freed trade options. There's pre-packed meats, chicken and seafood, a small frozen section with shrimp, pastas, veggie burgers, and more. The store also sells flowers, from orchids to mini-bouquets, bagged charcoal, kitchen and grilling accessories, and has a small body care section.
Treats for dogs were a little bit harder to find — they are over by the baby and childcare section, if you're looking.
"Local" cheese is actually from New Jersey, but there's also Steve's Ice Cream by the pint which comes from Holbrook.
Shoppers have long-hoped a gourmet grocery store would open on the East End.
Gregg Saunders, a retail and shopping center developer who lives in Sagaponack, owns the property the FARM Stand occupies and he has plans for a 17,500-square-foot retail store there, in between and . Since Plitt Ford sold the property several years ago, it has sat mostly vacant, but Saunders has hopes of the gourmet store sticking around the past the summer.
What the affect on traffic will be remains to be seen.
The store is still hiring. See store manager for details.
The store is located at 368 Montauk Highway, Wainscott, and the phone number is 631-527-7120. Hours are Monday through Wednesday 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Thursday through Sunday, 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Sunday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.