Walking the halls of a grocery store where robots brew your tea and an electronic sommelier recommends wine pairings might soon be more than a sci-fi fantasy.
According to a New York Times report, both amenities are included in plans for 365, the new grocery store concept that Whole Foods Markets is scheduled to debut in Los Angeles in late May.
After a tour of the facilities led by 365's president, Jeff Turnas, the Times described the venture as a "foodie playroom" adorned with bright primary colors and "electronic terminals" to place orders.
The teaBot that the company will allegedly commission is described on the teaBot website as "robotic kiosks [that] allow you to order a custom cup of loose-leaf tea and share your blends at the touch of a button." The electronic sommelier is Banquet, a wine-pairing app developed by Delectable.
Turnas rejected the idea that 365 will be a "cheaper" version of Whole Foods, telling the Times rather that 365 would pursue innovative solutions in order to offer lower-priced items.
"At Whole Foods, we love big, round apples," he said. "At 365, we love apples too, and get them from the same suppliers, but they may be smaller, less beautiful."
Gone too will be some of the frills that has so far defined the Whole Foods shopping experience. Produce will be sold "straight out of the boxes and crates in which it is delivered," rather than in the aesthetically pleasing pyramids found at other grocery stores.
"We did everything to make that store about convenience for the customer, and a lot of that is what we're doing here," Turnas said.