For years, people have scratched their heads about the Whole Foods Market on Kensington High Street.
It’s huge, it’s on three floors and it’s frequently relatively quiet. Now at last this is changing and Whole Foods has a central London location that not only looks the part in terms of visual merchandising but is probably the right size for its neighbourhood.
The store is the Whole Foods Market on Glasshouse Street – just around the corner from Piccadilly Circus. And while it has two floors, the great bulk of the shopping action takes place on the well laid out ground floor, which looks out onto a newly pedestrianised shopping street that used to be little more than a cut-through to Regent Street.
The fact that there are no cars means that that this branch, which has relocated from nearby Brewer Street, has chairs and tables for shoppers to indulge in a little al fresco dining. For those in a hurry, however, this cross between a New York deli and an outsize convenience store offers real top-up shops for Soho workers and ‘meals to go’ for the lunchtime crowd.
The store’s upper level is, for the most part, a cafe, fronted by a balcony, which affords views out through the large glazed frontage and will probably encourage a spot of people-watching. Overall, this looks and feels like a US Whole Foods, rather than the somewhat odd versions of the retailer’s stores that have characterised the brand’s presence in this country, and this location is the better for it.
It also gives those in and around the Piccadilly area a real alternative to the fast food culture in the area.