The two stands — Cheu selling Asian-inspired noodles and Wiz Kid selling vegan sandwiches — opened with the store last October. Stands run by Severino Pasta Co., serving Italian specialties, and Dizengoff, specializing in hummus, will remain at the store’s “restaurant row.”
A Whole Foods spokeswoman said replacement vendors have been signed and will be announced soon.
Cheu co-owner Shawn Darragh said Cheu’s issue was not one of slow business and emphasized that there was no “bad blood” between the vendors and the retailer.
“It was definitely an operations issue,” Darragh said. “The setup there has been rough from the day we opened.” Ingredients must be brought into the back of the supermarket, prepped in a room shared with the other vendors, and then transported through the crowded aisles to the kiosks in the front of the store, he said.
Additionally, it became a labor problem. Line cooks and a chef had to wash their own dishes and pans. “I like to keep my people happy,” he said. “Someone is working a 12-hour day and then has to stay to wash dishes.”
Darragh and his business partner, Ben Puchowitz, have Cheu locations in Washington Square West and Fishtown and own Bing Bing Dim Sum in South Philadelphia. He said most employees at the Whole Foods location would find jobs elsewhere in the organization.
Rich Landau, who with his wife, Kate Jacoby, owns Wiz Kid, a spinoff of their Vedge/V Street operation, said he also had no issues with Whole Foods. “It was just not the right fit,” he said.
Meanwhile, Landau and Jacoby are working with Whole Foods on offering a V Street-branded Thanksgiving meal-to-go at every Whole Foods store nationwide.