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Sneak Peek of Whole Foods Market

With bated breath, the masses have awaited the opening of the new Whole Foods on Broad Street. The opening is happening Thursday morning at 9 AM but we’ve got a preview of what everyone will find.

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The official opening of the newest Whole Foods Market is at 9 AM on Thursday, January 30th. Opening day celebrations include complimentary coffee from Blanchard’s Coffee Roasting Co., breakfast bites from Brekkie and music before the store opens. Additionally, the first 200 customers will receive a custom Whole Foods Market Richmond reusable tote bag, as well as a savings card with a mystery value ranging between $5 and $100.

This afternoon we were allowed in for a sneak peek. The store was busy but calm as last-minute touches were put in place.

Fruits and vegetables with clear signage letting you know which came from local growers.

Everything falls under the Whole Foods Market’s Whole Trade Guarantee which is committed to ethical trade, working conditions, and the environment.

Ever wonder what 150lbs of cheese looked like? After 16 hours the carving will be done.

Over 150 bulk items available.

Information about the local vendors on display.

The bakery was busy baking.

Pizza is one of the many prepared foods that will be available. Others include a salad bar, soups, rotisserie chicken, sushi, and mezze bowls.

Upstairs is where you’ll find some of the seating for over 150 people, self-serve beer and wine, as well as self-serve items such as wings.

The self-serve beer taps.

View from the mezzanine.

Kombucha by Blue Ridge downstairs at the RVA Cafe.

Self-checkout as well as your regular checkout lanes.

Official Press Release:

Whole Foods Market in Richmond opens its doors to the public at 9 a.m. on Thursday, Jan. 30. Located at 2024 West Broad Street, the former location of Pleasants Hardware, the new 47,000 square-foot store incorporates the original brick façade, wooden beams and other historic elements of the Kaufman building. Opening day celebrations include complimentary coffee from Blanchard’s Coffee Roasting Co., breakfast bites from Brekkie and music before the store opens. Additionally, the first 200 customers will receive a custom Whole Foods Market Richmond reusable tote bag, as well as a savings card with a mystery value ranging between $5 and $100.

“We are thrilled to open our second store in the Richmond area,” said Bill Balderson, Store Team Leader. “We look forward to providing the RVA community with an expansive selection of fresh, high-quality and innovative products, hundreds of locally sourced items, as well as a self-serve eatery and taproom where shoppers can gather to enjoy a beverage or grab a bite to eat.”

Offering a selection of locally sourced options, grab-and-go prepared foods and natural and organic grocery items, all food at Whole Foods Market must meet the company’s rigorous quality standards, which prohibit hydrogenated fats, high-fructose corn syrup and artificial sweeteners, as well as over 100 colors, flavors and preservatives commonly found in food. In addition, all beauty and body care products must meet the company’s body care standards, which ban more than 100 commonly used ingredients, including phthalates, parabens and microbeads.

Special features of the store include:

  • Fresh produce department offering a wide array of fresh fruits and vegetables, including offerings from local growers and a range of items with Whole Foods Market’s Whole Trade® Guarantee, which supports suppliers that are committed to ethical trade, working conditions and the environment.
  • Full-service butcher featuring made-in-house sausages, dry-aged offerings and bone broth-making kits, as well as lamb and beef selections from Virginia-based suppliers like Grayson Natural Farms.
  • Seafood department featuring a variety of fresh and frozen seafood, all Responsibly Farmed or sustainable wild-caught, with fresh options from suppliers in the area like smoked fish from Ivy City Smokehouse, oysters from True Chesapeake Oyster Co., shucked oysters from Harris Seafood, clams from HM Terry Co., crab meat from JM Clayton Seafood Co. and headfish from George’s Seafood Distributors and Southern Connection Seafood.
  • Specialty foods section featuring a variety of cheeses, with options from 10 local suppliers, including Meadowcreek Dairy, Shenandoah Family Farms and Mountain View Farm; department’s cheese selection is overseen by an in-store American Cheese Society Certified Cheese Professional who can offer expertise and recommendations for any request or occasion.
  • Hundreds of beer and wine options, many from local producers such as Stone Brewing, Three Notch’d Brewing Company, Early Mountain Vineyards, Old Westminster Winery, Rosemont of Virginia Winery, Lightwell Survey Wines and Breaux Vineyards.
  • In-house bakery offering an array of freshly baked breads, cakes and pastries as well as items for special diets and options from local suppliers including Antbear Bakery and Smart Cookie Kitchen.
  • Variety of prepared foods including a salad bar, soups, pizza, rotisserie chickens, Kikka sushi as well as build-your-own mezze bowls featuring a variety of Mediterranean flavors and toppings
  • Bulk section offering more than 150 items including nuts, seeds, granola, grains, dried fruit and candy.
  • Beauty, body care and home goods section offering products from five local suppliers, including goats milk bar soap from Naked Goat Soap Co., coffee body polish from Mac’s Smack and shave soap from Regiment.
  • Nearly 1,000 products throughout the store from about 150 local suppliers, some of which are new to Whole Foods Market or are recipients of Whole Foods Market’s Local Producer Loan Program, which provides low-interest loans to local producers to help grow their businesses.

The Richmond store also features a self-serve eatery and taproom on the mezzanine level that is open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. With indoor and outdoor seating for more than 150 guests, it offers a variety of pub-style fare such as buffalo wings, crispy brussels sprouts, arancini and Sicilian-style pizza, as well as self-serve wine and beer that customers are invited to drink while shopping in the store.

Amazon Prime members who shop at Whole Foods Market have access to a number of benefits year-round, like deep discounts on dozens of select popular products each week and an additional 10% off hundreds of in-store sale items. In addition, eligible Prime members receive 5% back on Whole Foods Market purchases when using the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Card.

Whole Foods Market Richmond will employ approximately 165 full and part-time team members. Following the grand opening, the store will be open from 7 a.m. – 10 p.m. daily.

Whole Foods Market has one other store in the area, with the first being its Short Pump location in Glen Allen, Va.

For more information visit https://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/stores/westbroadstreet.

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Richard Hayes is the co-founder of RVAHub. When he isn't rounding up neighborhood news, he's likely watching soccer or chasing down the latest and greatest board game.

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Department of Public Utilities encourages reopening businesses to flush water before use

As businesses prepare to reopen on Friday, the utility encourages the flushing of internal pipes before any water use resumes.

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The City of Richmond Department of Public Utilities (DPU) has been providing safe drinking water during the COVID-19 pandemic and it remains a priority. As businesses prepare to reopen on Friday, the utility encourages the flushing of internal pipes before any water use resumes.

With non-essential business being closed due to COVID-19 since March, water has been sitting in pipes. This water can lose the benefits of necessary disinfection, which could lead to bacteria growth and thus unsuitable for drinking, hand washing, or other uses. Additionally, turning on water after prolonged closures could disrupt plumbing materials and release contaminants into the water.

“To ensure fresh water is being used by newly reopening businesses, we strongly encourage them to flush the water in their systems. This is important to maintain the public health and safety of all residents and visitors,” says DPU Director Calvin D. Farr, Jr.

This process includes running water through all faucets, fountains, and other water treatment/enhancement systems with both hot and cold water for several minutes before using.

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Stoney: City to “cautiously move” into Phase 1 of reopening plan on Friday, May 29th

On Thursday, Mayor Stoney announced that the City of Richmond will cautiously move into Phase 1 of Forward Virginia, the state’s reopening plan. Masks will be required in all indoor spaces and restaurants will be asked to voluntarily connect patrons’ information for contact tracing purposes.

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On Thursday, Mayor Stoney announced that the City of Richmond will cautiously move into Phase 1 of Forward Virginia, the state’s reopening plan.

“When I look at the picture in totality, given the added tools at our disposal, the current trends in our local data and my faith in Richmonders to look out for one another, I believe that Richmond can cautiously move into Phase 1 on Friday, May 29,” said Mayor Stoney at Thursday’s press conference.

During the first delay that the City of Richmond requested, the Stoney administration and Richmond City Health District expanded testing efforts, implemented a contact tracing effort, ensured every COVID-19 positive Richmonder will be able to isolate safely and securely with supported isolation, and advocated for a statewide mask requirement.

The city initially requested a modified Phase 1 reopening that maintained restrictions on places of worship and personal care and grooming services, as mass gatherings and close personal contact for extended periods of time both significantly increase chance of community spread.

Because the governor denied the city’s modified plan for reopening, Richmond will move into Phase 1 of Forward Virginia, the state’s reopening plan, with strong recommendations reflecting the mayor’s proposed modifications. Local guidance and helpful links to state guidance are available here. The state has yet to provide guidance on what Phases 2 and 3 will include.

The mayor detailed a number of best practices for residents and business owners to ensure that the city moves into Phase 1 cautiously. The best practices emerged from conversations between the Stoney administration and members of the business community, faith leadership, and health professionals.

  1. All residents who are medically able to should wear a face-covering that covers the mouth and nose when in public spaces. The wearing of a face covering does not negate the need for 6-foot social distancing.
  2. Faith communities should continue to meet virtually if possible. If in-person meetings are absolutely necessary, the mayor strongly recommends faith groups meet outside while practicing strict social distancing and enforcing the face-covering requirement.
  3. Food and drink establishments that choose to offer outdoor service at half capacity are asked to request a name and contact information of patrons who dine in for contact tracing purposes. This practice is voluntary for both patrons and restaurants. However, collecting this small amount of information for each dine-in party will go far in assisting the Richmond City Health District in tracing and containing outbreaks. Guidance on this practice is available here.

The mayor made two requests of the state: to continue to assist the city in further expanding testing capacity and in providing adequate face-coverings and hand sanitizer throughout the capital city.

“Quite frankly, we’re going to need more support from the state for our residents and our businesses to reopen safely and sustainably,” the mayor noted in his appeal. “I make these recommendations and requests of the state because, as has been my mantra this entire pandemic. Reopening should be slow and steady.”

“When public health is on the line, blindly pushing forward is not an option. Decisions must be thoughtful, and they must be based in our collective knowledge of and love for our city.”

See more reopening guidance for local businesses here: www.rvastrong.org/reopeningguidance.

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Health Innovation Consortium, Lighthouse Labs partner on health-focused startup accelerator

Richmond-based Lighthouse Labs, a nationally-recognized, top 25 seed-stage accelerator, will partner with the Health Innovation Consortium (HIC), a collaborative alliance working to make the Commonwealth of Virginia a hub for health innovation, to launch Virginia’s only health-focused accelerator program.

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Richmond-based Lighthouse Labs, a nationally-recognized, top 25 seed-stage accelerator, will partner with the Health Innovation Consortium (HIC), a collaborative alliance working to make the Commonwealth of Virginia a hub for health innovation, to launch Virginia’s only health-focused accelerator program.

Founding partners Virginia Commonwealth University, VCU Health, and Activation Capital, launched HIC in 2019 to help bring health innovations to market. HIC and Lighthouse Labs will leverage the new accelerator this fall to cultivate a pipeline of health-related technologies through a three-month immersive learning experience, capital opportunities, and potential for funding.

Making the Commonwealth’s only health-focused accelerator program possible is Activation Capital, a nonprofit organization that focuses on early-stage ideas to foster the area’s growing entrepreneurial ecosystem. A grant by Activation Capital to Lighthouse Labs, along with the contributions of HIC, will support the health-focused programming by Lighthouse Labs in addition to VCU’s efforts to develop new innovations in healthcare.

The new initiative, including expertise, grants, and funding by Health Innovation Consortium, will be offered alongside an industry-agnostic vertical that will also operate as part of the 2020 fall cohort by Lighthouse Labs. Selected companies in both verticals will participate in the accelerator from August 24 to November 13, 2020, in Richmond. During the fall program, the health-focused startups and the industry-agnostic companies selected will work with top-tier mentors as they participate in targeted and adaptive programs.

“Health systems, particularly academic health systems like VCU, are looking for innovative solutions involving every aspect of health care—its delivery to consumers, its technology, and its business models,” said Peter Buckley, M.D., interim CEO, VCU Health System, and interim senior vice president, VCU Health Sciences. “The Health Innovation Consortium was designed to facilitate, support, and scale health innovation. By partnering with Lighthouse Labs, a nationally ranked start-up accelerator, we have the opportunity to attract and engage with the most promising new technologies in the country that can improve the health of our community.”

The companies selected to participate in the health-focused accelerator will use the three-month programming as a springboard to develop digital health and medical device technologies, amongst others. Founders participating in the fall cohort will also have an opportunity to tap into HIC resources, including access to an exclusive network of industry experts, early-stage venture funding, and support, after the cohort has ended.

In addition to equity-free funding, programming, and mentorship, all selected companies will have access to $1 million in advisory services and benefits from partners such as Global Accelerator Network (GAN), Kaleo Legal, Startup Virginia, and other service providers. In addition, companies accepted will participate in Demo Day(s) designed to demonstrate each selected startup to investors, alumni groups, potential customers, and peers.

“Innovation is needed now more than ever,” said Erin Powell, executive director of Lighthouse Labs. “The fall cohort by Health Innovation Consortium and Lighthouse Labs will provide traction for the most promising, high-potential startups to begin making an immediate impact in health-related industries.”

“Beyond the three-month immersive experience this fall, the post-program opportunities, and access to the Health Innovation Consortium network and connection to capital, makes this new offering the most transformative platform for those who have identified the biggest challenges in human health and healthcare and are ready to accelerate quickly to provide solutions,” said Powell.

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