BEDFORD, Mass. -- Nature's Heartland, a new entry into the natural foods supermarket arena, opened here last week with a larger than typical footprint and an emphasis on fresh foods.
The 41,000-square-foot store, opened in a former Purity Supreme site in this northwest suburb of Boston, was conceived by Leo Kahn, who co-founded the Fresh Fields natural supermarket chain and was the former head of the Purity Supreme supermarket chain.
Kahn, now chief executive officer of Nature's Heartland, opened the new store in partnership with its president, Richard Kleinberg, a lawyer who had worked for Grand Union as a real estate executive and was most recently a corporate officer for BJ's Wholesale Club.
Fresh Fields' and other natural foods supermarket units have tended to fall in the range of 20,000 to 30,000 square feet, so the size of the Nature's Heartland format allows the store to offer "the widest variety of ultra-fresh perishables and natural food products compared to local competitors" such as Bread & Circus and Stop & Shop, said a company official.
Kahn's previous foray into natural foods retailing, Rockville, Md.-based Fresh Fields, was sold to Whole Foods Market, Austin, Texas, in July. Whole Foods also owns the Bread & Circus natural food supermarkets that could be considered Nature's Heartland's most direct competition in the Boston area.
Like other stores in this segment of the retail food business, Nature's Heartland has a full complement of supermarket-like fresh food departments, dry grocery and health and beauty care; but all the food -- fresh or otherwise -- must conform to a set of "quality standards" intended to promote a healthier lifestyle.
The quality standards at Nature's Heartland include selling items with no artificial additives, fresh baked goods free of bleached or bromated flours, meat and poultry with no added hormones or chemicals, the "widest possible assortment" of organic fresh foods, and fresh seafood never dipped in or treated with chemicals.
The company official said the store will feature fresh dishes prepared on-premise, focusing on cuisine "from around the world" such as Mexican, Thai, Indian, Chinese and Japanese. The international flavor also extends to an olive bar with 20 types of olives from Greece and other products like artichoke hearts and roasted peppers. The store uses four chefs on-site, and offers dining area seating for 45 people.
A Trattoria department includes a juice bar, a coffee bar and a brick-oven pizzeria. The bakery is a scratch operation, using European stone ovens. An artisan bread program churns out more than 30 varieties baked fresh each day, the company said.
A cheese department offers 250 varieties, and fresh pasta will be cooked at the store daily.
Both the 100-item fresh meat department and 47-item seafood department feature "oven-ready" value-added items prepared at the store.