OK, I’ll admit that this one took me by surprise. Leave it to my good friend Megan Torrance of TorranceLearning to teach me something new. We met this morning for coffee at the grocery store — Whole Foods Market. OK, it’s a high-end grocery store, but it’s still a grocery store.

So, what did I think? Here’s the review:

Name: Whole Foods Market
Type: Grocery Store/Coffee Shop
Pros: Remarkably quiet. Wide variety of foods from which to choose. Lots of parking. Free wi-fi. You can do your shopping after your one-to-one — convenient!
Cons: During lunch, after work, and on weekends the noise levels are likely to be appreciably higher. Waiting behind people who are buying a shopping cart full of food in order to pay for your coffee would be a pain.

When Megan suggested it, I thought, “Networking at a grocery store? Really?” Let me tell you, though, this is a great place to meet someone. We met at 8:30 in the morning, but even by the time I left at 10:30 (I did a little grocery shopping after Megan left), the tables were still only sparsely populated.

I’m not a coffee or tea drinker, but it appeared that they had a fairly wide selection at the coffee bar. Of course, you could also get lunch at the deli case or at their pizza counter. I think the only downside of the whole thing would be having to wait in line behind the grocery shoppers to pay for your coffee. My experience in the past, though, is that Whole Foods does a pretty good job of maintaining enough open cashier lines to prevent there from being too much of a wait.

Now, of course, I was in the store during non-shopping hours. I’m guessing things pick up around lunchtime and after work. Still, I can’t imagine the lunch crowds being any worse than any other restaurant in the area. While we were there it was pretty quiet with the exception of the occasional announcement going over the PA system.

So, for me anyway, the upshot is that Whole Foods Market is a great place to meet for coffee or lunch. I guess the ironic thing about it is that in ages past, the market was the center of the social community. It’s where people would go to meet and get the latest gossip. Looks like Whole Foods decided to take a step back to yesteryear so we can make the connections to secure our futures.