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Whole Foods in Jamaica Plain Seeks to Add Indoor and Outdoor Seating

The grocer hopes to add a "common victualer" license.

A trip to wouldn't have to be just for carry out, if the grocer's plans to add indoor and outdoor seating for food service are approved.

The grocer aims to put 22 indoor seats and 16 outdoor seats at its 415 Centre St. location, said JP Neighborhood Council member Michael Reiskind at a Tuesday night meeting of the volunteer advisory board.

A is set for April 3 at 7 p.m. in the Cheverus Building, which is next to the old Blessed Sacrament Church and home to programs of the Hyde Square Task Force.

Whole Foods will be seeking a "common victualer" license, which allows service of food. The grocer is not seeking to serve beer and wine, Reiskind said.

"The indoor/outdoor seating will give customers a comfortable space to enjoy the fresh and delicious items from our prepared foods and bakery departments, as well as from the coffee bar," said Heather McCready in an email.

The license will require approval by city bureaucracy, something the grocer was careful to avoid in the months leading up to its October opening. That lack of "leverage" was cited by some JP Neighborhood Council members as a reason it failed to broker a formal "" with the chain store.

The bureaucratic process begins with the April 3 Neighborhood Council meeting. Recommendations for the Neighborhood Council are usually, but not always, followed by city boards such as the Planning Board and Board of Zoning Appeals.

[Editor's note: This post has been updated with a statement from Whole Foods.]

Steve Garfield March 28, 2012 at 10:54 AM
Glad to hear they are adding seating. It was one of the things that they had promised in the beginning. That would truly make Whole Foods a meeting place. Hope they add free WiFi along with it.
susan burns March 28, 2012 at 11:03 AM
I think it's a great idea, but where on earth are they going to find the space inside the store?
gretchen van ness March 28, 2012 at 11:36 AM
This is great news! It will make the market even more of a neighborhood meeting place, which was one of the concerns when Hi Lo closed.
Maura March 28, 2012 at 12:14 PM
I'm excited for this addition. It's nice to have a place to sit and have a cup of joe with a pal before doing my shopping.
Guy Pondside March 28, 2012 at 12:55 PM
I'm not opposed to the idea - but why eat in a grocery store when you have access to all those fantastic restaurants up and down Centre Street?
Paul iantosca March 28, 2012 at 01:23 PM
Great for anyone who is hungry and just wants to put together a meal or snack without all the hassle of going somewhere else. Great for moms ,dads and friends with children as well. Quality food with ease, that's what we need. I am all for it. I think it would serve as an affordable way for folks to get together and just" catch up" over a bite to eat.
Rich P March 28, 2012 at 03:06 PM
Yay! I am thrilled. When I grab a coffee/snack, or a little mini meal at the food bar, I eat on the window sill across from the bathrooms - ewww. I cannot wait for them to have seating in that big open space in the window zone. Given the liklihood of our less than representative neighborhood council, I'd suggest we rally normal JPers to call city hall directly VS letting the neighborhood council throw it's anti whole foods wrench in yet another brilliant idea that 99.198% of of 37,458 residents WANT. So here is the number to call to support this directly with the governing authority at city hall: Mayor's office neighborhood services: Julieanne Doherty 617 635 3485 [ fax 617 635 3498 ] she said e mailing her will make a big difference as she can bring those e mailed letters to city review meetings E: Jullieanne.Doherty@cityofboston.gov; Licensing board; 617 635 4170 [fax 617 635 4742]
Chris Child March 28, 2012 at 03:17 PM
Great idea, it will be great place to grab a quick bite!
gretchen van ness March 28, 2012 at 03:30 PM
Rich is right, but let's also attend next week's meeting of the JPNC's Public Services Committee. Caffee Aromi is also seeking a 7-day CV license and its application will be discussed at Tuesday's meeting, so folks who support the continuing revitalization of Hyde Square should take the time to attend and speak up on behalf of both businesses. In related news, another new business just opened its doors in Hyde Square: the JP Dollar Hut. Check it out!
Pat Roberts March 29, 2012 at 09:25 PM
Rich, thanks for the contact information. I will be sure to send an email with my support. I also think we should not attend the neighborhood council meetings on this or any other subject. Our presence there just helps those folks continue with their delusion that they have a role in the life of JP, and that they represent us. Neither of those is true, and the kindest thing is to just let them fade into the oblivion they deserve.
Alice Phoenix March 30, 2012 at 05:09 PM
Despite my best efforts, I'm sometimes very hungry when I show up to shop. It's great to grab a bite before I start and it'll be even greater to have a place to sit and eat it.
Maura March 30, 2012 at 10:57 PM
So true Alice. It's very dangerous to SWH (shop while hungry.) You buy way too much stuff. So to be able to buy a little sumthin' and eat it while sitting down at a table like a civilized human being....and then doing your shopping...works out better that way.
Terrell Gibbs April 04, 2012 at 01:48 AM
Well, the committee split 4-4, so no decision was reached. I was a bit surprised to see how much opposition there was from local restaurants terrified of competition. It seems to me that a restaurant that can't manage to compete with a grocery store without table service, where customers are seated behind the checkout registers with shopping carts trundling by, or breathing auto exhaust at the edge of a parking lot, probably *deserves* to go out of business. I'll be astonished if a fine local shop like El Oriental de Cuba sees any impact. After all, the neighborhood formerly supported a much larger restaurant right next door to the Whole Foods site (until the landlord got too greedy and lost what was probably the best tenant he'll ever have). But I suppose that the fear is understandable in a distressed economy.
gretchen van ness April 04, 2012 at 02:24 AM
The baffling thing is that the applicant before Whole Foods was Caffe Aromi, which will have more seats and longer hours than Whole Foods, and actually IS direct competition for the sit-down restaurants in Hyde Square. There was no objection by anyone at the meeting, unanimous approval by the Committee, and a big "Welcome!" from the neighboring businesses. If Caffe Aromi isn't a problem for Hyde Square, tables at Whole Foods isn't a problem either.
Bob from JP April 04, 2012 at 03:39 AM
Of course it's not a problem. Anyone that thinks a sit down food court at an already cramped supermarket is going to compete with legitimate restaurants is absolutely out of their mind. Not to mention that in comparison with other WF stores, the prepared foods at the JP location are resoundingly terrrible. This is just another example of the Whose Foods Morons trying to push their lunatic left agenda and hiding behind the WF protest facade.
Bob from JP April 04, 2012 at 03:41 AM
Oh and by the way Chris, where is that WF saga retrospective? Does the fact that exactly ZERO of the things these whackjobs were screaming about last year actually materialized preclude you from running a piece?
Rick S April 04, 2012 at 11:23 AM
If Chris does do a retrospective he should include photos of many of the Whose Fooders and JPNC "not a good fit" crowd that I have seen shopping at Whole Foods.
Derryl April 04, 2012 at 12:09 PM
Many people requested that Whole Foods add seating. They need to show up downtown when the city licensing board meets. Chris, when is that? Some points: In the 25 years I have lived here, there have NEVER been empty parking spots in Hyde Square. In fact, there used to be a lot more double parking than there is now. Parking will always be a problem. I do hope that Whole Foods employees are redirected to the paid for spaces at the MSPCA, if they are parking on city streets. Sorry to say but some people need to direct their energy to corporations who pollute, have no customer service, don't donate to anyone, are not healthy thinkers or absolutely not well meaning in any way. Whole Foods is not one of them. Not all corporations are the same and the U.S. will never be a country without them. They will be invading "your area" forever so get used to it. Targeting truly bad ones would be more helpful to the public. And, while I love eating out (though we seldom do), I routinely get our lunch at Whole Foods. I buy a salad at the salad bar or one of the very small boxed ones. That salad and a piece of toast at home costs us $2 or $2.50 each, a good price for a meal. I always bring them home to eat. If there were tables in front of the store, maybe my husband would come with me so we could eat next to the parking lot and watch the world go by instead of eating in our house.
Rick S April 04, 2012 at 12:20 PM
In addition to attending the city licensing meeting people can also send letters of support. If anyone is interested in doing so please email rstockwood@jpforall.org
gretchen van ness April 04, 2012 at 01:12 PM
Despite receiving petitions signed by over 1,000 people who support adding seating at the market, the Public Services Committee was persuaded by a small handful of aggressive opponents that there is a lot of opposition to this application, which is why several members voted against the application. If you are one of the thousand who signed the petition and you want seating at Whole Foods, now is the time to speak up. Emails can also be sent to Michael Reiskind, the committee chair, at psc.jpnc@gmail.com.
Chris Helms (Editor) April 04, 2012 at 03:01 PM
Hi Derryl, No date for the licensing board has been set, since Whole Foods hasn't formally applied yet. If and when they do, I'll publicize it here on Patch.
Chris Helms (Editor) April 04, 2012 at 04:46 PM
Hi everyone, I've just added a follow-up story about the deadlock at the Public Service Committee on Whole Foods' request for seating: http://patch.com/A-skNm

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