Whole Foods Market Queen celebrated its grand opening on Wednesday, May 9, 2018. The 72,000 square feet, 2-level store is the largest of now four locations in Hawaii. The three other stores are in Kailua and Kahala Mall (first in the state) on Oahu, and in Kahului, Maui. Aptly named, Whole Foods Market Queen is located on the corner of Queen & Kamake’e Street in Kaka’ako, right behind Ward Theaters. The new Anaha condominium tower flanks it on the Diamond Head side of Kamake’e.
Along with 2 levels that include retail, food stations and 2 bars, there’s also 6 levels of free parking available within the same structure above the first level, extending its overall height.
Here’s all the facts about Whole Foods Market Queen:
- Whole Foods Market Queen is the 4th and largest location in Hawaii.
- At 72,000 square feet and spanning two floors, it has created over 300 new jobs locally.
- Whole Foods Market features foods that are free from preservatives, flavors, colors and sweeteners, and contain no high fructose corn syrup or hydrogenated fats.
- Shoppers can find over 900 unique locally-made, grown or raised in Hawaii products.
- There are over 60 local suppliers in produce, including fresh squeezed heirloom Hawaiian sugarcane juice from Ko Hana that is juiced and bottled in-store.
- The produce department will carry only non-GMO papaya and corn.
- The seafood department features a large selection of local fish purchased daily less than three miles away at the Honolulu Fish Mart.
- All wild-caught seafood offered are from fisheries certified sustainable by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) or rated either yellow or green by Monterey Bay Aquarium and The Safina Center.
- All farmed seafood, fresh or frozen, is responsibly farmed and backed by third-party audits with rigorous standards that prevent antibiotics, growth hormones and use of synthetic parasiticides on farms.
- Talented, trained fishmongers will debone, fillet or devein shrimp and fish at the seafood counter for customers at no charge.
- All fresh beef, pork and chicken in the meat case come from farms that are third-party audited, adhering to the Global Animal Partnership 5-step Animal Welfare Rating.
- In-store dry-aged beef steaks are cut and trimmed fresh daily, and aged for 14 to 21 days.
- The store carries more than 400 natural and organic products from Whole Foods Market’s private label 365 Everyday Value.
- The store has over 100 bins in the extensive bulk section, where shoppers can save by getting only what they need, without the added cost of packaging.
- The Queen location is the first whole Foods Market store with fresh scratch-made bread, baked daily in-house.
- An in-store bar named Two Tides (located on both floors!) offers delicious food such as tempura, yakitori and burgers, along with 24 beers on tap, including exclusives from Waikiki Brewing Company.
- The prepared foods department features Mac & Cheese bar with pork belly mac, roasted tomato and spinach mac, jalapeno mac, brisket mac and vegan option.
- The coffee bar features three Nitro teas on tap and two milk tea options with Boba add-on options.
- Local favorite Lanikai Juice has an in-store venue, providing fresh cold-pressed juices, smoothies and bowls.
- Local supplier La Tour Cafe will offer hearty banh mi sandwiches on the second floor.
- Shoppers can make their own fresh ground nut butters using the store’s six grinders.
- The store has an in-house ceviche program.
- The Whole Body department features a large selection of body care from local favorites like Hawaiian Bath & Body, Kula Herbs, Moku Pua and Maui Honey.
- Shoppers can choose from a wide selection of chilled Sake.
- Self-serve desserts include mochi ice cream and macarons.
- A poke bar featuring seven to fifteen varieties of poke daily with options to customize by adding toppings such as fresh fruit, veggies, nuts and seasonings.
- The Queen store is the first to feature a dedicated retail brand shop selling Whole Foods market-branded reusable bags, beach towels, mugs, postcards, hats and more.
I must say, this is the most impressive supermarket on the island yet. In a word, it’s epic! I can’t say they’ve topped Foodland Farms Ala Moana, because that store has its own merits and a more local feel, because it is truly local. I’m also a huge Costco fan, so there’s that. However Whole Foods Market Queen has set the bar of “mega grocery store” to a whole new level, no pun intended.
I wasn’t in “Price is right” mode, so wasn’t comparing prices tit for tat. Most items seemed priced “fair”, where some were really good deals and some that looked like “whoah, that’s a wallet-buster”. Many of the health and environment-friendly products they carry are unique to Whole Foods that you simply can’t find at other grocery stores, so it’s difficult to compare, price-wise. If you pay more here, think of it as an investment in your health, is the best way I look at it. If you save some kala (money), great, because there’s definitely some deals here.
Speaking of prices, their point-of-sale signage and shelf labels are very informative not only on prices, but also what is organic or “conventional”, while also letting you know what’s on sale or are regular everyday priced items. I didn’t have any problems figuring out what anything costs or described as. Their aisle markers and store layout also makes it very easy to find what you’re looking for throughout the store on both levels. There’s also easy-to-find escalators and handicap-accessible elevators, with the latter having direct access to the 6-level parking structure. Lots of checkouts, including an extended express checkout means you’ll be out of there in no time if you’re in a hurry.
As for the prepared foods, I tried the smoked brisket, falafel and other mediterranean sides from the hot foods station, and it was absolutely onolicious! Their in-house sourdough bread is on-point as well, tasting as good as any from San Fran’. They have a poke bar in the seafood section that lets you sample each poke style yourself with toothpicks, which for free, no “Whole Paycheck” need apply, they were all good in my book!
There’s also a poke bowl station on the second floor, along with Mary’s Chicken Wings and La Tour Cafe, for made-to-order Wings and Banh Mi. Up there you’ll also find the second of two Two Tides bars and a generous food court seating area with window views of Kaka’ako.
The great selection of unique, healthy, quality food products, plethora of prepared food stations, quick checkouts, easy-to-navigate layout, ample free parking, friendly staff and overall “cool” vibe, make Whole Foods Queen the queen of supermarkets in Hawaii!
Whole Foods Market Queen
388 Kamakee Street
Honolulu, HI 96814
Hours: 7:00am – 10:00pm daily
Following is the Tasty Island’s photo coverage of Whole Foods Market Queen on grand opening day. Enjoy. ;-)