Publix takes on Wegmans, Whole Foods, in key category customers will love

One of the greatest things about American culture, besides our early 2000s-era romantic comedies, insistence on predicting weather patterns via an unwitting groundhog, and supersized SUVs is our grocery stores. 

Sure, most countries have some kind of grocery store experience, but in many parts of the world they tend to be smaller and packed mostly with the conveniences. 

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In the U.S., however, going to the grocery store can be something like a weekend’s main event. 

Some of our most popular grocery stores are more like adult amusement parks rather than a place to simply pick up milk and eggs. Costco  (COST) – Get Free Report for example, offers far more than just produce and canned goods. The members-only warehouse sells everything from diamonds to greenhouses, and includes a cult-favorite food court with reasonably-priced indulgences for an after-shopping treat. 

Wegmans and Whole Foods take a different tack. While you might not find a 3 carat near-flawless diamond ring at either retailer, the two do offer things like happy hour, beer and wine on tap, live music, and other attractions to make the shopping experience enjoyable. 

It’s no wonder, then, that these are two of the most beloved stores and destinations for a weekly shopping run. 

Publix tries a popular store concept

It’s also no surprise, then, that other grocery stores might try to get in on such a popular concept. 

Publix, the most popular and plentiful grocery store in Florida, has a good reputation for how it treats its employees. With over 800 locations around the Sunshine State, the grocery store is the largest employee-owned company in the country, meaning each worker has some skin in the game and genuinely cares about the customer experience. 

Vilano Beach Florida, Publix grocery store employee pushing shopping carts. (Photo by: Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

Image source: Jeff Greenberg/Getty Images

But Publix isn’t just stopping there. The grocery store recently opened a new store concept in Wesley Chapel, Fla. which offers customers a variety of new experiences, including: 

Upstairs seatingBurrito barOlive, hummus, and antipasto barFull-service and drive-thru pharmacyOver 200 artisanal cheesesPizza, sushi, and ramen barFull-service deliLarger bakeryBouquet and flower departmentWine, beer, and kombucha on tapSalad barHot food buffetLocal coffeeAcai bowlsNext door Publix Liquor store

Most of these features are usually reserved for more upscale grocery stores. Whole Foods, for example, has a popular olive and antipasto bar and many Wegmans offer freshly rolled sushi and wine on tap. But this Publix “prototype,” as it’s being called, is the company’s third — it has two other large-scale stores in Tampa, Fla. and Louisville, Ky. that were both only just opened in 2023.

As for how many more could be expected to roll out, Publix isn’t commenting on that. 

“We don’t have a complete listing of future stores of this format. It’s one of our store prototypes and will be used as space and opportunities allow,” a Publix spokesperson said.

Currently, Publix runs about 1,300 stores across the country.

The store, which is being called Innovation Springs, opened on January 25 and is already generating traction and excitement.

“We are excited to open our doors today at Innovation Springs,” Publix media relations manager Hannah Herring said of the over 55,000-square-foot store. “We look forward to introducing customers to an array of new offerings and providing them with the service and quality products they know and love.”

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