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Bloomberg reports that John Mackey, the founder-CEO of Whole Foods who will retire next month from the company, now owned by Amazon, later this year, plans to build "a chain of plant-based restaurants and wellness centers that offer fitness and spa services."

The report says that various job posting for the company describe the concept as offering "a broad spectrum of eclectic plant-based dining options, ranging from the most health-promoting to a balanced indulgence,” in addition to being “rooted in lifestyle medicine,” featuring “the best of Western and Eastern medicine, alongside wellness, educational and fitness and spa services.”

According to the story, "Corporate records list Mackey, 68, as a partner in Healthy America LLC, a startup that raised about $31 million from investors earlier this year and aims to launch a 'national network' of medical wellness centers and vegetarian restaurants."

It also appears that to some degree, Mackey is getting the Whole Foods band back together:  "Incorporated in 2020, Healthy America is based in Austin, Texas, like Whole Foods and staffed by veterans of the high-end grocer. Its chief executive officer is Betsy Foster, a longtime executive who left Whole Foods in 2020. Walter Robb, Whole Foods’ co-CEO when he departed in 2017, is listed alongside Mackey as a partner. Former executives from Whole Foods’ store development, finance and human-resources departments have also joined the startup, according to their LinkedIn profiles."

The first location, which is expected to operate under the brand name Love Life!, is expected to open sometime next year.

Amazon acquired Whole Foods in 2017 for $13.6 billion.

Some context from Bloomberg about Mackey and Whole Foods:

"Mackey is credited with helping popularize organic foods in the US. He co-founded a natural foods store in 1978 and merged with a rival to form the first Whole Foods two years later. The store grew into a national chain, largely through acquisitions of regional competitors … A longtime vegetarian who went vegan in the 2000s, Mackey has advocated healthy eating with an almost religious devotion and blended that mission into his company’s culture. A libertarian, he has long portrayed health and diet largely as matters of personal choice."

KC's View:

Anyone who expected Mackey to simply retire to some farm where he could grow his own food and stay off the grid was inevitably going to be disappointed.  It always has struck me that Mackey is a combination of entrepreneur and evangelist, which can be a pretty restless combination.  Add to that a personal net worth reportedly in the neighborhood of $85 million, and you have the overwhelming likelihood that Mackey was going to open something.