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The first HEB in Houston


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When did H-E-B open in Houston proper? The Fountainview H-E-B opened in 2001 according to Yelp and was the first one according to them, but on the bayou (Braes Bayou?) there's a tiny store that was almost certainly an H-E-B Pantry (facade similar), and it IS in Houston.

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  • 10 months later...

I think the Pantry stores came in 1991 or 1992 (I'll have to check the Chron archives). Not sure about Houston, but a professor of mine told me that they were going to open a full line store in BCS but were spooked by a new Randall's and opened a Pantry store instead (there was a full store in Brenham by then). A full HEB did not open in CS until 2002.

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I remember there was a HEB Pantry on Queens and Shaver in Pasadena, and I want to say there was one on Southmore and Burke. Wasn't there a store on Center St. in Deer Park too? Not sure if that one is still open.  The HEB on Fairmont Parkway & Space Center Blvd has been expanded and remodeled.

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I moved into my present home in Aug, 1992. It wasn't long afterwards that I started getting flyers about a new HEB Pantry opening near me at the corner of BIssonnet and S. Gessner but I can't remember for sure when it opened.  I was glad to have another grocery store option in the area but I was familiar with HEB from Austin and didn't regard it as a very good option.  There was an HEB just 5 blocks from the last place I lived in Austin and I only went in it once, preferring to go to Kash Karry (sp?) or Handy Andy.  The latter had a few stores here in the 70s and I regularly went all the way to the one on Voss that later became a Randall's Flagship.

 

HEB also put a store into an existing space at S. Braeswood at Chimney Rock in Meyerland.  That store was slightly bigger than the newly constructed one but still small by standards of the day.  Since I was new to the neighborhood I'm not sure what was in that space previously.  I wouldn't claim that either store was the first in Houston but I think HEB opened multiple stores about the same time.

 

The stores had banners strung across the front proclaiming the slogan H.E.L.P. which stood for Honest Extra Low Prices.  They also promised to open a new check-out line anytime there were more than 3 people in line and they were very good about that.  They stunted the first few weeks with very good specials on Blue Bell ice cream.

 

I liked the new store; it was a better option than the small, run down Kroger at S. Gessner and S. Braeswood.  It was very small with narrow aisles, reminiscent of grocery stores from decades earlier.  It carried all the basics but it could be tough to get around in the store when it was crowded because of the narrow aisles and the produce department, the most important part of a grocery store to me, was very small.

 

At about the same time, a Food Lion opened on S. Gessner at Creekbend with much less hoopla and I shopped there too.  I read in the Chron at the time that HEB had planned to enter the Houston market but moved up their plans to try to block Food Lions' entry into the market.  Both chains were positioned as low price, I think.  The FL was a much larger store with wider aisles.  FL offered a few items that were new to Houston including Vidalia onions, which I had heard of but never seen, and a Vidalia onion relish.  These days you can find the relish products at lots of places but I think at the time no one was carrying them. 

 

All of the stores carried only select grade beef.  I thought the FL beef was a little better than HEB but they sliced their steaks very thin. 

 

One product I really liked at FL was their knockoffs of Pepperidge Farm cookies which were very good and much cheaper than the name brand product.  I became addicted to the Chocolate Chunk Macadamia Nut cookies.

 

I had a problem with HEB.  I was constantly getting over charged at the checkout, mostly by 'operator error' rather than the wrong information entered in the computer resulting in the wrong price showing up on a scan.  This happened at both stores with different checkers and I came to the conclusion it was a company policy to try to do this.  One example involved being charged 3 times for the same item.  I always caught it but got po'd and gave up shopping at HEB until the FL closed and I had to go back.  I hardly ever shop at HEB anymore.  The small pantry on Bissonnett is now a private school and the FL is now Valley View Elementary (HISD).  The Meyerland HEB is still open but I refuse to go there after repeated frustrations at the checkout.

Edited by brucesw
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  • 4 weeks later...
  • 2 weeks later...

Now I know The Woodlands isn't Houston (unless they eventually annex it, which I guess this will count retroactively), but I've been doing research on 130 Sawdust Road. There's an H-E-B facing Interstate 45. In 2003, this was rebuilt from a Pantry, and was opened in April 1992 according to the Chronicle (article is from October 1992):

H.E.B . has edged slowly toward Houston since December 1988, when it opened stores in nearby Cleveland and Columbus. In February, H.E.B . opened a Pantry store in The Woodlands , and the company opened its first Houston store in April. H.E.B .'s expansion plan calls for 65 Pantry stores in the Houston area, and possibly building a few full-sized stores here in the future.

The original store ("Woodlands 1" according to H-E-B's site) opened facing Sawdust Road. However, the store was around in 1989 (Google Earth) but it wasn't open yet. It looks like H-E-B may have taken the store's carcass from another retailer. Was there a Safeway there that closed prior to the chain becoming AppleTree?

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Now I know The Woodlands isn't Houston (unless they eventually annex it, which I guess this will count retroactively), but I've been doing research on 130 Sawdust Road. There's an H-E-B facing Interstate 45. In 2003, this was rebuilt from a Pantry, and was opened in April 1992 according to the Chronicle (article is from October 1992):

The original store ("Woodlands 1" according to H-E-B's site) opened facing Sawdust Road. However, the store was around in 1989 (Google Earth) but it wasn't open yet. It looks like H-E-B may have taken the store's carcass from another retailer. Was there a Safeway there that closed prior to the chain becoming AppleTree?

 

I've done some research on this in the past and according to Montgomery County's CAD these are the sales dates and sellers

Date:             Seller

09/27/1991    SUNWEST DEVELOPMENT CO

08/30/1989    Unknown

 

The record that list those dates has a build year of 2003.

 

There are records that reflect the previous Pantry store notably referring to the property as HEB Pantry Foods #595 There was also a tax reference to HEB BEVERAGE COMPANY LLC. Leading me to wonder if HEB ever had a separate building for Liquor sales similar to what Fiesta does.

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Incredible! I took a hunch and ran with it, and my efforts were handsomely rewarded. I knew that Galveston's H-E-B Pantry (shuttered 2008 under that name) used to be a Safeway, and I was right!

 

7 Safeways to be shut here; 9 more possible

Houston Chronicle - Wednesday, June 10, 1987

Safeway Stores Inc. will close seven supermarkets in its Houston division, and the head of the union local representing Safeway workers here says as many as nine more store closings are possible. 

Safeway , which has closed nine stores so far this year in the Houston area, will close another seven on Saturday. The company said the closings are part of its ongoing program to eliminate stores that are not performing well. 

The stores slated for closing in Houston are at 10902 Scarsdale, 11502 S. Wilcrest and 15440 FM 529 at Highway 6. Two are closing in Spring: 7310 Louetta and 130 Sawdust Road. In addition, Safeway will close one store each in Cleveland and Clute. 

The stores ranged in size from 27,000 square feet to 51,000 square feet, the largest being at FM 529 and Highway 6. That one was opened within the past year but was closed because the location did not turn out to be as good for business as it looked, said Pamela Morris, public relations manager for Safeway 's Houston division. 

The closing leaves 104 stores remaining in the Houston division, which covers eastern Texas and extends as far west as Killeen, Morris said. She said there are no other closings the company is ready to announce, but it evaluates all of its stores regularly with an eye on eliminating unprofitable outlets.

Neat, huh?

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  • 1 year later...

I always thought the Pantry stores were downright nasty looking, smelling etc inside. When they closed the one in Porter and removed the freezers on the back wall, there was a lot of mold behind where they stood.

Might explain the rumor that the Woodlands (Sawdust) store closed because of the "smell of death" or something (seen elsewhere on HAIF)

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  • 5 months later...
15 hours ago, IronTiger said:

Did the Braeswood H-E-B close again? :(

 

I heard that it had most of the same decor when it reopened, but now with the flooding I fear it's shut again.

 

No idea if the flooding got that high again. However and educated guess would say yes.

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3 minutes ago, IronTiger said:

I heard that South Braeswood got flooded pretty bad. I wonder if H-E-B might just give it up and close it for good, like they did with the H-E-B in Galveston.

 

I don't think it got flooded this time. Flooding in Meyerland was bad this time, but not as bad as it was on Memorial Day. I know a couple who lives on N. Braeswood between Chimney Rock and S. Rice Ave. who got flooded on Memorial Day, but didn't get flooded this time.

Edited by JLWM8609
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8 minutes ago, JLWM8609 said:

 

I don't think it got flooded this time. Flooding in Meyerland was bad this time, but not as bad as it was on Memorial Day. I know a couple who lives on N. Braeswood between Chimney Rock and S. Rice Ave. who got flooded on Memorial Day, but didn't get flooded this time.

Huh. I know I watched a bit on the news today of some parts of town still flooded (near Aldine, I think?) where cars were still almost completely submerged. I do know that the I-10/I-45 area had also been closed for a while, too, though the depressed part of I-10 near Yale was dry and open yesterday morning.

Edited by IronTiger
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4 minutes ago, IronTiger said:

 

Huh. I know I watched a bit on the news today of some parts of town still flooded (near Aldine, I think?) where cars were still almost completely submerged.

 

Brays Bayou receded for the most part by the 19th. NW Harris County received much more rain and that water is moving slowly toward Lake Houston and that's why cars are still submerged there. NW Harris County received about 18 inches, but Meyerland got about 9 inches.

Edited by JLWM8609
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