Thursday, April 11, 2013

Hoover's Market- Altamonte's 40yr-old secret?

So, why haven’t I heard about this alternative to Whole Food’s? Maybe because it’s smaller, more local, and non-franchised?

Plus, it’s not really evident from SR436- even though it’s just a block north on Academy Drive. In fact, it’s very plausible that most people will drive right past this spot without noticing that they are missing out on a part of history.

Hoover’s has been around for 40 years and they still have that mom-n-pop feel to their store. Yes, they have a similar Whole Foods layout to an extent but it’s way smaller. The key difference being the food bar aka the ‘Sunflower Market’ (tucked at the end of the fresh produce section) which just specializes in sandwiches, wraps, juices, soups and a few select homemade items.

The sandwiches are simple and come in an assortment of different bread choices (7-grain, sour dough, and wheat among others) but it’s just a standard slice of bread (nothing gourmet) with any organic toppings that you want (a standard selection of spinach, sprouts, cucumbers, tomatoes, lettuce, etc). They even have vegan cheese. The juices are freshly prepared in front of your eyes. Chicken and pasta salads are also available from time to time while supplies last. I recommend the wraps over the sandwiches because for a dollar more (about $5 and change), you get a lot more bang for your buck (compared to about $4 for a sandwich). The sizes of the wraps are also run bigger and the attendant behind the counter will add ingredients as you wish and bill you accordingly. Well, at least he should. Read on…

Apparently the guy in front of me ordering his food at the counter had gone too far- adding too many vegetables in heaping quantities and extra hummus when he perfectly knew that his wrap would be charged just the same if it had half the ingredients in it. So the attendant bounced back and told him enough is enough. I somehow got caught in the fiasco when the client started throwing a fit aloud that the attendant was out of line. Personally, it’s rare to be caught in a verbal mêlée, so in an attempt to diffuse the situation I politely reminded the client that it is, after all, only a wrap. Arguments and wars have been had over more serious things than extra hummus on a flour tortilla. 

The client didn’t heed to any of my advice and started complaining to everyone and anyone who wanted to hear him. He even stopped Jordan, the assistant manager (who coincidently is the owner’s son) and started complaining over his $5 grievance and using me as a key 'witness' to prove his case. I managed to pry myself out of the dramatic cross-fire and find a spot outside to sit and eat.

And here’s where it got real sweet- the client followed me out and apologized for dragging me into the situation. Moreover, the manager even came over a little bit later and offered me coupons towards my next purchase! He said that he didn’t want that that situation ruin ‘my experience at Hoover’s’- something that I thought was a shining example of what lengths the proprietors here go to ensure customer satisfaction.

IN A NUTSHELL: Crawl behind any whiny, dramatic, and vociferous client that may cause a scene so you may score a discount. Just kidding. Check this place out though for a healthy snack- the Sunflower Market has very modest selections so don’t keep your hopes up for an extravagant Michelin-star meal. Be prepared to wait a little while (especially if the person in front of you has an elaborate saga of an order that comes straight out of telenovela) since things are mostly made-to-order. Smile and thank Dr. Hoover that he raised a good son like Jordan who is ensuring that good business practices are in place for a least another generation.
Hoover's Market - Sunflower Café on Urbanspoon

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