Whole Foods "Fromagerie"

I wouldn't have guessed it, but Whole Foods is taking New York City by storm. With three stores already firmly established (the lines are insane), three more under development, and one set to open tomorrow on the Bowery in New York's Lower East Side, the Austin, Texas company is poised to have a great impact on the NYC food scene. The Bowery store will be of particular interest to curd nerds everywhere, as it represents the first Whole Foods store to incorporate a full-fledged fromagerie.

As reported today by Florence Fabricant, the fromagerie sports temperature and humidity-controlled aging rooms as well as a pickle bar (an homage to the pickle tradition of the Lower East Side). Aaron Foster, an alumnus of Artisanal, will be running the operation, working with Neal's Yard Dairy and Hervé Mons to procure a great lineup of cheeses.

I have mixed feelings about this. One the one hand, a Whole Foods with a good cheese counter is sorely needed. I generally enjoy shopping at Whole Foods, yet the cheese counters at the other Whole Foods locations in Manhattan are badly managed and poorly staffed (I once asked one of the employees if they carried Hudson Valley Camembert, and she responded that they carried Camembert but she was pretty sure it wasn't from the Hudson Valley). On the other hand, the Lower East Side doesn't need another huge chain coming in to compete with the smaller mom-and-pop style boutiques, homogenizing the culture and the feel of the neighborhood. I am very curious to check out the new store and to see what effect it might on the cheese world in New York as well as the greater food scene.