Whole Foods Playa Vista is equal to the sum of its parts, which were largely influenced by locals

By Michael Aushenker

Whole Foods crowd-sourced ideas for the design  of its Playa Vista location Photo by Michael Aushenker

Whole Foods crowd-sourced ideas for the design
of its Playa Vista location
Photo by Michael Aushenker

Walk into the brand new Whole Foods Market in Playa Vista, and you’ll see things that you won’t see at any other Whole Foods Market: a stand-alone juice bar with a custom açaí bowl counter; phrases such as “Cultivate and Elevate” and “Watch the Clouds” integrated into the décor; and the family-friendly Astro Pub, an indoor/outdoor dining space with views of a colorful-yet-dystopian mural taking aim at, of all things, overdevelopment and loss of green space.

That’s because many of these nuances are the result of an “envisioning” — ideas arrived upon after the planners of this supermarket consulted with the community, says Janette Rizk, vice president of social media at Phelps Agency and a Whole Foods spokesperson.

The retail core of the $260-million Runway at Playa Vista development, Whole Foods Playa Vista (or store #422, as it is known within the national chain’s Austin headquarters) officially opened to the public on June 17. And at 35,000 square feet, the store is well-poised to handle the tech-crowd lunch rush and serve the 13,000 residents who will inhabit Playa Vista when construction is complete.

Two years ago, Whole Foods, in true focus group fashion, held community meetings to canvass the input of Playa Vista residents. The resulting store represents “a mix of community input, and the design group wanted to incorporate the history of aerospace and aviation,” Rizk says.

Built on the former grounds of the Hughes Aircraft Company, the market’s interior design reflects Playa Vista’s storied past as well as its preset Silicon Beach occupants and the family-friendly residential community beside it. Nowhere do the echoes of Howard Hughes, James McDonnell and Donald Douglas seem more apparent than at the Astro Pub — a Space Shuttle-esque dining area that offers wine and spirits to adults as well as grilled cheese and chicken fingers for the tots.

The crowd-sourcing of ideas have produced many other unique elements to the story, including the first-ever Whole Foods stand-alone juice station, run by Jeremy Black’s Sambazon. It is also the first Whole Foods to offer home delivery via InstaCart while its parking structure has a bike lock-up area.

There are also first-ever poké bars, a bulk protein powder section, self-serve pizza station, kids section and even a kids club offering activities. The bakery, which includes an in-house cake decorator ready to customize desserts for any occasion, also vends filled kouignettes.

“Unique too about this store is that it opened with about 150 local products,” Rizk says.

Another interesting area connection: Whole Foods regional wine buyer Ryan Frick, who tends to Playa Vista’s expansive wine, beer and cheese section, used to work at Whole Foods Venice on Lincoln Boulevard, as did the Playa Vista store’s specialty section manager.

Moreover, Whole Foods Playa Vista has already begun participating in events benefiting its host neighborhood. The store partnered with Ballona Wetlands for pre-opening carnival and raised money earmarked toward Friends of Ballona Wetlands.

On July 8, about 5% of all purchases will go toward ourfoods.org, dedicated to urban agricultural education.

“It’s just another example of how they are partnering with the community,” Rizk says.



Featuring limited-edition designer goods and on-the-spot 3-D printer maker experiences, the new brand 5 POINTS has opened a pop-up shop at 1306 Abbot Kinney Blvd. in Venice.

The 5 POINTS pop-up store hosts frequent creative happenings

The 5 POINTS pop-up store hosts frequent creative happenings

5 POINTS offers apparel, home furnishings, poster prints, leather goods and other items — all of it crafted by a team of artists and artisans.

The location also invites shoppers to participate in creative activities such as contributing to a wall-sized mural painting or typing postcards on a 1930s typewriter or simply watching goods being crafted in-store on a 3-D printer and laser cutter.

“We appeal to a creative-minded shopper,” co-founder Johnny Dawbarn said.

For more information, visit weare5points.com.


After 33 years as the Santa Monica Convention & Visitors Bureau, the nonprofit responsible for promoting Santa Monica as a business- and leisure-travel destination has changed its name to Santa Monica Travel & Tourism.

“The general consensus was that our former name confused visitors and clients with the impression that Santa Monica is home to a convention center, which is not the case,” SMTT President Misti Kerns said.

The name change follows the organization’s May 14 “brand refresh” unveiling during its sixth annual Travel & Tourism Summit, which included a revamped santamonica.com website, a redesigned logo and the launch of a new visitors guide and visitors map.

Chamber Events

July 10: The Venice Chamber of Commerce launches Fitness Fridays, an eight-week series of free one-hour exercise sessions intended for chamber members of all fitness levels and led by personal trainers, yoga instructors and other fitness pros. Chamber members meet at noon at the corner or Rose and Penmar avenues. Kate Wilson of Exhale Venice will be guest instructor for the inaugural July 10 session, and snacks will come courtesy of Brittany Cook from Allstate Insurance Company/BNC Insurance. venicechamber.net

July 17: The LAX Coastal Chamber of Commerce hosts
its monthly Lunch ‘N’ Learn gathering, this time featuring Vincent Dignan, founder of Magnific, who will give a talk titled “Growth Hacking Live: Boost your Startup in Real Time.” Bring your own lunch
or buy a sandwich, chips and drink for $10. Lunch starts at 11:30 a.m., and Dignan speaks
at noon. LAX Coworking,
9100 S. Sepulveda Blvd.,
Ste. 208, Westchester. Call
(310) 645-5151 or visit lax-