For those in Wesley Chapel who are not wowed by new restaurants, fast food chains, big retail outlets or fancy new intersections, this one might just be for you:
Say hello to the area’s first green grocer – Earth Fare.
The popular and quickly-growing organic food franchise will open its doors to Wesley Chapel on Wednesday, February 20, just before 7 a.m., and if the grocer’s previous grand openings are any indication, folks will be lining up long before the sun rises at the new store’s location at 25535 Sierra Center Blvd., across S.R. 56 from Tampa Premium Outlets and behind the Ford’s Garage..
Virtually everything new that opens in Wesley Chapel gets Hope Allen, the CEO of the North Tampa Bay Chamber of Commerce, excited. But this, she says, is a different kind of buzz. An all-natural organic buzz, perhaps?
“It’s our first one, the first organic grocery store to land in Wesley Chapel,” Allen says. “There’s been a big demand for it. It’s going to be pretty exciting.”
Wesley Chapel does have Publix and Winn Dixie supermarkets offering organic selections, as well as the Nutrition Smart on Bruce B. Downs, which currently offers the area’s widest range of organic foods, vitamins
But, Earth Fare is bringing 24,000 sq. ft. worth of the stuff — and roughly 100 jobs — to its new location in the Cypress Creek Town Center on S.R. 56 (at 25535 Sierra Center Blvd., across from the Tampa Premium Outlets).
The Wesley Chapel location will be Earth Fare’s third in the Tampa Bay area, joining stores in Oldsmar and Seminole.
Overall, ours will be the 12th Earth Fare in Florida.
The most recent Florida opening took place in Viera, FL on Jan. 9, and there are more to come, the company says, as it pursues aggressive expansion into Florida.
“We’ve made a concerted effort in recent years to help Tampa-area shoppers have more convenient access to cleaner, healthier foods— the kind of food that will help them live a longer, happier, healthier life,” said Frank Scorpiniti, president/CEO of Earth Fare, in a statement.
Earth Fare holds grand openings in the same way popular new businesses like Chick-Fil-A do, with long lines of early arrivers hoping to grab some free swag.
Last month, nearly 800 people showed up for the 6:45 a.m. opening of the 11th store in Viera, and the first 500 received a mystery gift card worth as much as $1,000, followed by other giveaways, food samples and contests.
Those who show up at the Wesley Chapel opening can expect more of the same thing.
Each person who signs up with the Wesley Chapel/Lutz store’s Healthy Rewards program will receive a free re-usable bag, while supplies last.
“I think we’ll see a lot of people (at the opening), because eating healthier foods has wide appeal,” Allen says. “I think that will add an extra layer of excitement to this opening.”
Earth Fare touts a selection of items that specifically do not contain things like high-fructose corn syrup, artificial fats, colors, sweeteners, or preservatives, or meats that were bred with antibiotics or growth hormones.
The chain has a “boot list” — a long list of banned ingredients it does not allow in anything sold in any Earth Fare store.
Founded in 1975 and based in Asheville, NC, Earth Fare’s tagline is “healthy food for everyone,” as the green grocer claims to offer “clean” food at prices every shoppers can afford.
The company’s 50th store opened last month in Steel Creek, NC, and Scorpiniti has said there could be as many as 100 locations in a few years.
Like most green grocers, Earth Fare offers some distinct goodies to shoppers. The Wesley Chapel store will have an Heirloom Café & Juice Bar, where shoppers can buy smoothies and coffee, and lunch and dinner are offered from selections that include a salad bar, hot food bar, pizza station and sandwich counter.
Earth Fare also offers a small seating area with free Wi-Fi for those who want to sit and enjoy their purchase. Painted on the wall is: “Have A Seat, Stay Awhile.”
Staying awhile is something you may just end up doing at Earth Fare. The store will carry a substantial selection of craft beers, one of its more popular characteristics, and also offers more than 1,000 private brand food products. There also will be a large offering of Wellness & Beauty products, like self-serve, scoop-your-own body scrubs.
“We are passionate about helping our community make the connection between clean food and living longer, healthier, happier lives,” Scorpiniti said in a statement. “We’re thrilled to become the newest member of the growing Wesley Chapel community and to continue to bring the leanest, healthiest options for years to come.”
Earth Fare will open in Wesley Chapel first, but construction of a Sprouts Farmer’s Market in New Tampa is under way across Bruce B. Downs Blvd. from Hunter’s Green and will be the second large green grocer to hit the area.