The pumpkins were stacked, the parking lot fast filling in Massapequa on Wednesday morning, as Long Island’s newest Whole Foods (and first on the South Shore) opened its doors after months of preparation.
The 38,500-square-foot store, located in the former Babies R’ Us on Sunrise Highway, is the grocer’s sixth Long Island location (joining stores in Garden City, Commack, Jericho, Manhasset and Deer Park).
Near the entry, the produce department showcases fruits and veggies in lush displays; look for the "local" labels scattered throughout, which highlight items sourced from Long Island, New York, and the greater northeast.
As at all Whole Foods Markets, all of the meats and animal products in the Massapequa store adhere to the company’s cascade of ethical standards, which outline protocols for animal welfare, workplace best practices, and the environment.
A fishmonger’s case offers wild-caught fish, harvested according to Whole Foods’ sustainability guidelines, which aim to protect fish populations and conserve overall ocean health. Find glistening whole red snappers and branzini, along with Blue Point oysters and little neck clams, along with shrimp, skewered into kebabs; crab cakes and salt cod fritter.
Steps from the fish counter, the butcher shop features chops (lamb and pork), steaks (fresh, custom-cut, dry-aged or otherwise), roasts and semi-prepared things like chicken breasts stuffed with tomato and basil or à la cordon bleu. Any cut can be sliced or marinated to order, and for those seeking a window into how it’s made, there’s a fishbowl-style cutting station, where visitors can watch as workers break down sides of pork or beef into individual cuts.
In every aisle, the Massapequa store puts an emphasis on local products. In the dairy department, Greek yogurt from West Babylon’s Nuonós Creamery is displayed alongside cups of Chobani; the frozen section includes pies from Seaford’s Brooklyn Square Pizza placed among the national brands. Near the produce section, a case holds 10 fresh handmade pastas from Severino Pasta Company in Westmont, New Jersey.
On the west side of the building, the store devotes extensive square footage to prepared foods. Visitors swinging by for a quick lunch can pursue the hot and cold bars, which feature plates such as spicy Thai pasta salad, orzo with spinach and feta, and baked mac and cheese.
Salads, to eat now or later, can be built with greens and grilled veggies, plant- and animal-based proteins, fresh fruits and a long list of dressings and condiments, while an end bar offers handcrafted Mediterranean mezze. A cooler holds dozens of grab-and-go items (cranberry couscous; curried chicken salad, beef burritos, Buffalo cauliflower, devilled eggs,) many of which are also available by the pound in the deli.
Other busy-weeknight dinner fixes include a pizza station, where customers can grab fresh pizzas to re-warm at home, or build a custom pie to bake while they shop.
At the "Market Plate" counter, visitors can select packed-to-order entrées such as seasoned strip roast, teriyaki salmon, rotisserie chicken and vegan loaf with mushroom gravy were on the menu today. Customers can choose from nine sides — on opening day, these included maple-glazed Brussels sprouts with bacon and apple, mac and cheese, and truffled fingerlings.
And, on the way out, a full line of baked goods runs the gamut from occasion cakes, ready for your kid’s "Happy birthday" inscription, to breads and pastries, any of which can be toasted in the store’s full-service onsite coffee bar.
Head spinning yet? Grab a coffee on the way out — it’s pumpkin spice season, after all … And if that’s not your thing, there’s always the seasonally changing café special — right now, it’s the butterscotch white mocha.