A supermarket opening doesn’t usually garner the breathless excitement of the District’s first (ever!) Wegmans—especially in grocery-heavy Upper Northwest, home to the Social Safeway and Just-Walk-Out Whole Foods, among many others. Still, Wegmans massive market in Tenleytown’s City Ridge development is drawing tons of hype in advance of the grand opening on Wednesday, July 13. Mayor Bowser strolled the aisles. Local news crews camped outdoors. Popville dubbed it an “84,000 square foot Shangri-La.” There’s even a Women of Wegmans fans club that will show up, dressed to the nines, for the 9 AM opening.
So what’s with all the fuss?
Wegmans novices like myself may be skeptical. How great can a 107-store chain possibly be? Turns out, pretty great.
The DC Wegmans’ biggest draw is it’s a literal and rare one-stop-shop. Patrons can pick up liquor or wine, necessities like dog food and paper towels, non-necessities like fancy cheese or custom poke bowls, and seemingly everything in between. The store boasts 70,000 grocery items, specialty departments for fresh-cut flowers and home entertaining, a pharmacy, and Burger Bar. Hours are also extensive—6 AM to midnight—and there’s parking for 750 below the market in addition to online shopping options, delivery, and curbside pickup.
Unlike most other DC supermarkets, Wegmans sells 500 varieties of global spirits, vermouths, and sakes. That’s on top of an equally lengthy selection of beers and ciders (including DIY six-packs). A huge offering of wines ranges from budget bottles to a a $1,200 Chateau Lafite Rothschild in the temperature-controlled fancy wine cave. Match the booze with abundant cheese and charcuterie sections, and the party is planned.
The market offers indoor and outdoor seating for 160 with lots of in-store dining options: a family-friendly Burger Bar and Pizza Shop; stations for customizable salads and sandwiches; self-serve buffets with soups or Asian dishes; a raw bar with poke bowls and sushi (including cooked and vegetarian options); a bakery loaded with homemade pastries and doughnuts; and a Buzz coffee shop.
Ambitious home cooks can snag live lobsters, whole racks of ribs, and delicacies like caviar or foie gras. But there are also approachable family packs. Seafood and meat items come in various phases of preparation—raw, ready-to-cook trays of chicken marsala or shrimp scampi, ready-heat meals such as Peruvian-style chicken, and grab-and-go hot items. The same is true for meatless options, such as ready-made veggie burger patties. A lush produce department mixes fresh fruits and vegetables from local farms as well as national producers and items from Wegmans Organic Farm & Orchard in Canandaigua, New York.
To the uninitiated, Wegmans has the allure of a Costco when it comes to size and prices on bulk items; Whole Foods for specialty ingredients and organic finds; and Giant for approachability and convenience. But as one staff member of the shop’s 450 employees pointed out to us: “It’s just Wegmans, there’s nothing else really like it.”
Wegmans DC. 41 Ridge Sq., NW.