We’re learning there had been a fatal overdose in September at the Whole Foods at Eighth and Market Street that was closed down early this week, with someone who had OD’ed on fentanyl and methamphetamine while in the grocery store’s restroom.
When the highly touted, $12 million “flagship” Whole Foods at Eighth and Market Street’s Trinity Place announced its sudden closure on Monday, a mere 13 months after its celebrated opening, a Whole Foods spokesperson said the closure was “To ensure the safety of our team members.” And that is likely true, though there could be business concers at play as well.
But now just three days after the abrupt and shocking closure, we’re getting a little more backstory on how chaotic things really were at that Whole Foods location.
The Chronicle reports there was a fatal overdose in the Whole Foods bathroom in September, a development we are just learning now, seven months later.
Seven months before Whole Foods abruptly closed at Trinity Place in San Francisco’s troubled Mid-Market neighborhood, a man overdosed from fentanyl and methamphetamine and died in the grocery store’s bathroom, The Chronicle has learned. https://t.co/avsGiFaGMu— San Francisco Chronicle (@sfchronicle) April 13, 2023
“A man overdosed from fentanyl and methamphetamine and died in the grocery store’s bathroom,” the Chronicle reported Wednesday night. “The 30-year-old man died on the evening of Sept. 20, 2022, from the lethal combination of drugs, according to the San Francisco Medical Examiner’s office.”
The name of the victim has not been made public. But the Chronicle spoke to a regular Whole Foods customer, Sebastian Luke, whom they say “witnessed a body in a sheet being transported out of the bathroom on Sept. 20.” According to the Chronicle, among the many other disturbing incidents he recalled was “About a month ago, Luke said a man began urinating in the store, alarming a staff member who told him to leave.”
“The man replied that he wasn’t finished, Luke said.”
The Whole Foods Market location in downtown San Francisco is set to close just a year after opening. The grocery store chain had called the Mid-Market location SF's “flagship store.” https://t.co/5hIHYXcPr9— KRON4 News (@kron4news) April 10, 2023
The closure of that Whole Foods in particular is a gut punch, both financially because of the staggering investment made in the historically beleaguered Civic Center area, and just a morale perspective, because it was part of the hoped-for "Mid-Market revival" in a downtown San Francisco struggling to bring back foot traffic.
The revelation of this fatal overdose connects a few dots. We learned last November that this particular Whole Foods was requiring a store receipt to use their bathroom (which by the way, they apparently do this in other cities too). This would have been about two months after the overdose incident, and it’s fair to guess there’s some correlation there. Additionally, the store had just cut back its evening hours in October, closing at 7 p.m. instead of 9 p.m., about a month after the overdose incident.
Whole Foods did say in their statement about the closure that it was "for the time being,” and that “If we feel we can ensure the safety of our team members in the store, we will evaluate a reopening of our Trinity location.” That indicates at least some possibility the store will reopen at a future point.
Today, I’m waiving privilege to publicly announce a drafting request I’m working on with @Stefani4CA for a Charter Amendment entitled the “San Francisco Police Department Full Staffing Act,” which will get San Francisco to a fully staffed police department within 5 years. (3/7)— Matt Dorsey (@mattdorsey) April 10, 2023
The district’s supervisor Matt Dorsey quickly introduced a San Francisco Police Department Full Staffing Act proposal the very next day after the Whole Foods closure (he was on CNN that morning talking about it). It’s not clear whether this was to any degree at Whole Foods’ behest, or whether if passed, Dorsey’s measure would succeeed in getting the store to reopen. But there seems to be something of a full-court press to persuade Whole Foods to someday reopen the store, and the fatal overdose revelation illustrates the challenges they would consider before doing so.
Image: Jason F. via Yelp