PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. — Publix Super Markets' first freestanding Greenwise Market here is an upscale twist on the company's traditional supermarkets, with additional epicurean flair and eco-friendly features.
The 39,000-square-foot store in the new Legacy Park Shopping Center, near PGA National Resort, features a futuristic circular design. Customers shop the fresh perimeter departments of the store in a circular pattern, and each section has a rounded design with metal signage and tiles in muted greens.
“We knew we wanted a traditional grocery store meets a traditional natural store meets a culinary experience,” said Maria Brous, director of media and community relations for Publix. “It is pleasant and convenient for traditional shoppers, and for foodies, it is going to offer the best of both worlds,” she added.
SN was given a preview tour of the inaugural Greenwise store last week during a test of the prepared-foods area ahead of the store's scheduled opening to the public this week.
The Palm Beach Gardens location, in an area with a median annual household income of about $63,800, is the first of five Greenwise Markets that Publix plans to open in Florida by late 2008 or early 2009. The other stores are planned for Boca Raton, Vero Beach, Tampa and Coral Springs.
Competitor Whole Foods Market is about a mile away, as is a traditional Publix store.
“If they can't get items at our spinoff banner, we wanted to make sure there was another store close by that would meet their needs,” Brous said.
Publix took a few years to open its first freestanding Greenwise store in order to work out the kinks involved in forming a new natural and epicurean brand.
In addition, Publix took about two years to hire and train the right people — including some former health food store owners.
Publix is also working to obtain the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED certification for the location. The store's features include skylights and automatic controls that trigger compact fluorescent lights to operate at one-third, one-half or full capacity.
Many natural materials were used in construction, such as wall panels made of sugar cane and corrugated metal. The roof features a soy-based coating designed to reduce heat loads on the building. All fresh waste is composted.
Meanwhile, the organic and natural focus of the Greenwise brand — a label Publix uses in the organic sections of its traditional stores — is quietly woven into this store. Natural and organic products are integrated with traditional products, and there are no large “organic” and “natural” signs that identify those products or call attention to the fact that the store recently received organic certification.
However, organic and natural products are included in every dry grocery and frozen aisle and in most fresh sections. In the frozen foods section, for example, Boca Burger and Gardenburger selections are a couple of doors away from Stouffer's frozen dinners.
The mix of organic vs. traditional products varies by department, but produce and bakery feature the highest percentage of organic items — about 70%, depending on the time of year and other factors.
In addition, color-coded tags in the bakery and other fresh areas let customers know how organic the products are. All-brown tags with the USDA Organic seal signify that the product is 100% certified organic, and two other tags that are brown and white signify products that are “made with organic ingredients” and products that are “all natural.” If the tag is white with no brown, the item is conventional.
Greenwise does not look like a traditional health food store, except in certain departments, such as the store's bulk aisle and its organic cafe and smoothie bar. The HBC area, featuring organic skin care products and supplements, most closely resembles a natural food store with its low wooden shelving and blue signage identifying “skin care” and other product categories.
Instead, the store presents an old-world European open market feel, featuring upscale cheeses and a cheese ager, breads and tarts made in front of customers, and meats, pizzas and sandwiches made to order.
The open-air deli section includes food stations similar to the food court-type store that Publix opened in Lake Mary, Fla., earlier this year. The Carvery includes meats and entrees; The Grill features upscale hamburgers and breakfast items; the Mediterranean Oven includes wood-fired pizzas, lasagna and other Italian entrees; and the Sandwich station features traditional Publix subs along with other specialty sandwiches, made with Boar's Head meats.
Customers can also have salads made to order, or select specialty salads, including an upscale Cedar Plank Salmon Salad for $10.29.
The prepared foods section of the deli features 40 different entrees and sides, made fresh daily.
Bakery items — including organic flax sunflower bread and bran-oat muffins — are all made from scratch. In most other Publix stores, many bakery items are shipped from distribution centers. And, with Greenwise's open layout, customers see employees baking items behind the counters.
“We think it's more aesthetically pleasing, and it is a more authentic look, like old-world bakeries,” said Dwaine Stevens, a spokesman for Publix.
The “Gelato, Coffee, Juice” bar features smoothies for an average of $4.99 each, along with several organic coffee and latte options.
After customers buy their latte or meal, they can sit upstairs in the 6,800-square-foot mezzanine seating area. It features wireless access, tables and stuffed chairs, plus a separate meeting room.