History: Whole Food Company

I will be posting a series of notes for each major entry for the timeline. If you have info to share, please let me know.

1975: Opening of Whole Food Company at Adams @ Cohn

From Robert Thompson, longtime activist:
We belonged to the Robert Street Coop 1972. Liz and I worked cash register each week. The residents of the house included our friend Steve Samuels and Rick Moss (Tulane students). A buyer went to French Market and bought seasonal stuff. Food was arranged like a store. Buyers circulated around and bought what they wanted. Afterwards a guy from the Marengo St commune would come and buy up all the remaining food. This coop functioned during school year. Summertime the student members left, and those of us who lived here would combine efforts at coop on Cohn Street. The serious player there was an acquaintance named Armand Jonte. He was later a chef at Gautreaux’s I think. Seems like there were a couple of roommates with him on Cohn, I’ll try to figure who. But Armond was in my mind the soul of the Cohn St Coop. There was always talk of a storefront and I think by the second summer they made the move from Cohn Street to the Coop store building by the cemetery. –

October 1974:  Whole Food Company (WFC) opened its doors in New Orleans in Its mission was to be a grocery store featuring good, wholesome food. Sales doubled each year for the first four years. By 1978, the store (only 1100 square feet) was doing more than $1 million per year. (From WFM corporate history)

1981: Opening of Whole Food Company, Esplanade Avenue.
In 1981, WFC opened a larger store on Esplanade Avenue in New Orleans. WFC became the largest outside customer of Texas Health Distributors, the wholesale division of Whole Foods Market. (From WFM corporate history)

From Linda Van Aman, founder of Eve’s Market who (along with Claudia Dumestre took over the original WFC location before moving to Freret):

I worked at Whole Foods Company from 1981-1987, mostly at the Esplanade store, first as a grocery stocker, then as department manager, then in upper management.  Somewhere in there, WFC opened a deli & grocery outlet in the Riverwalk mall, which was unsuccessful and closed fairly quickly (not sure about the timeline on that). In early 1987,Whole Foods Market was positioning itself to expand into Louisiana (their first foray outside of TX), and Peter Roy was going to sell them the Esplanade store and close the one on Cohn St.

1988: Purchase of Whole Food Company by Whole Foods Market.
(From WFM corporate history) In May of 1988, the Esplanade store became the sixth Whole Foods Market.

(From Charleston Magazine, SEPTEMBER 2006) Peter Roy, who grew up with four sisters in a fifth-generation New Orleans family. In 1975, Roy began working at his sister’s new natural food store, Whole Food Company becoming its president in 1978. In 1988, Roy merged it with Whole Foods Market and moved to the West Coast to become president of the new California region for Whole Foods Market. In 1993, was promoted to president of the Company. “Basically, I bought my sister out and woke up 25 years later.”


2002: Whole Foods Market opens Arabella Station location.

Author: DW

New Orleans resident, writer, activist. Public market consultant.

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