DUBLIN -- Whole Foods has decided to open new stores in Dublin and Walnut Creek, part of an expansion of the healthy and natural foods grocer in the East Bay.
"We have been looking to expand in the East Bay, and we will definitely be creating jobs with these new stores," said Beth Krauss, a spokeswoman for Whole Foods.
The new Dublin store will be located on Hacienda Drive near Dublin Boulevard in a new retail center to be built on vacant land. The 40,000-square-foot store would be the first Whole Foods in Dublin.
The new Walnut Creek location will be on Ygnacio Valley Road near Oak Grove Road. It will be roughly 38,000 square feet and in the Encina Grande shopping center, now anchored by Safeway. It would be the second Whole Foods in Walnut Creek. It is expected Whole Foods would take over the existing space now occupied by Safeway, which intends to build a larger store across the street on a vacant lot.
"We are ecstatic about getting Whole Foods," Dublin Mayor Tim Sbranti said. "This will be good for the city and will be a great anchor for that new shopping center."
Texas-based Whole Foods said the new stores would open during its 2014 fiscal year or later. The Walnut Creek and Dublin markets are among 12 new stores the grocery chain is opening between now and the end of 2015.
Both of the stores are expected to have about 175 jobs.
"We always try to hire from the community," Krauss said. "When we hire people from that area, that helps with good customer relations."
In recent years, Whole Foods has been busy with a strong push to expand in the Bay Area. The retailer opened a South San Jose store in 2010. Later this month, it will break ground on another San Jose store, on The Alameda. It opened a San Francisco store on Ocean Avenue in 2012 and will open a store in San Francisco's Castro District in November.
In late September, Fremont will gain its first Whole Foods store. In 2014, the grocer will open a second store in Berkeley.
"Whole Foods is seen as a great tenant and great for a community," said Anna Winters, an agent with Colliers International, a commercial realty firm. "They have healthy food, it is convenient, they have a good dairy and deli section. They have all kinds of vitamins."
The stores are opening at a time when Whole Foods faces more competition in its health foods sector, said John Cumbelich, principal executive with Walnut Creek-based commercial realty brokerage Cumbelich & Associates.
"You have Sprouts Farmers Market, Fresh & Easy, and big retailers like Safeway are adding more healthy foods to their stores," Cumbelich said.
Contact George Avalos at 408-859-5167 or 408-373-3556. Follow him at Twitter.com/george_avalos.