Whole Foods expanding in-store dining

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The bar area inside a Whole Foods store in California. | Whole Foods

Whole Foods’ new stores in the Chicago area will feature restaurant and bar areas.

In addition, the company’s Streeterville store will include a Raw Foods-branded area serving up raw foods and vegan dishes. The partnership with Raw Foods is the grocery chain’s first third-party deal in the market, according to Crain’s.

“Simply put, we’re looking for ways to make the places more appealing,” Michael Bashaw, president of Whole Foods’ Midwest region, told Crain’s. “If bricks-and-mortar (grocers) are going to survive, they must offer a compelling experience to customers.”

The natural and organic grocer, based in Austin, Texas, has full-service bar areas in about a quarter of its 406 stores.

Whole Foods plans to open new stores in six former Dominick’s this year and relocate a store in suburban Willowbrook to another vacant Dominick’s.

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