Happy chilly Friday to you loyal readers! I hope you are all doing well and managing to stay warm, as power comes back on around the state. This post is coming a bit late due to technical difficulties between myself and the power grid, but I don’t need to tell you about that. So far in February we’ve had a decent amount of retail proceedings develop. First off what seems to have been a quiet deal between RaceTrac and Realty Income Corp. has left us with no more Raceway gas stations but has netted us some new 7-Eleven locations. Which is great new if you’ve been following the ever developing drama of their return to Houston! Next, the dissolution of Luby’s starts to get real as multiple locations are put on the real estate market. Finally, Randall’s leaves a Bellaire grocery store with more than 60 years of history with Weingartens planning on going vertical.
Raceway Speeds Out, 7-Eleven Zooms In
RaceTrac opened their first stores in Houston in the mid 90s. At the time the chain was known for low priced non-branded gasoline, which was not widely available in the Houston market outside of independent stations. They also brought along streamed line stores that all had similar offerings no matter what part of the city you were in. With selection in local stores varying based on how big or tiny they were. The locations they chose were mostly along highways in the suburbs, areas of proven growth, and were initially popular. RaceTrac even had a plan to deal with less popular locations by selling them off to independent operators who would franchise them under the “Raceway” brand. Many locations turned to Raceways over the years and some were sold to other brands. RaceTrac continued to build out stores in Houston into the 2010s however, within the last 10 years they have lost some prominence in a now overly saturated market. The streamlined stores, and unbranded gas that made the chain so desirable is now quite common in the Houston area. Throughout 2020 RaceTrac sold their existing properties to Realty Income Corporation, who lease thousands of different parcels to different chains all across the U.S.
Luby’s puts locations up for sale
Earlier this month Houston based Luby’s revealed their planned timeline to dissolve their company by the end of August. This came as little surprise as Luby’s and Fuddruckers had barely been limping along before the pandemic started. U As of February 13th multiple former and operating Luby’s and Fuddruckers locations were put up for sale. As reported by Houston Business Journal there are 13 locations for sale around the Houston area, along with one in Lake Jackson and Port Arthur each. Some of the locations are still operating but will be closed by the time they’re sold. The Houston area locations are as follows.
1201 W Baker Rd, Baytown, TX 77521 – Luby’s
4709 Center St Deer Park, TX 77536 – Luby’s
1600 NASA Road 1 Houston, TX 77058 – Luby’s
4525 North Freeway , Houston, TX 77022 Undeveloped Lot
2730 Fondren Rd Houston, TX 77063 – Luby’s
6704 Hwy 6 S Houston, TX 77083 – Luby’s
11950 Kurland Dr Houston, TX 77034 – Fuddruckers
7511 FM 1960 W Houston, TX 77070 – Fuddruckers
24033 Cinco Ranch Blvd Katy, TX 77494 – Luby’s and Fuddruckers
25407 Bell Patna Dr Katy, TX 77492 – Fuddruckers
125 West Way Lake Jackson, TX 77566 – Luby’s
8680 Memorial Blvd Port Arthur, TX 77642 – Luby’s
2290 Buckthorne Place The Woodlands, TX 77380 – Fuddruckers
Randall’s leaves a Bellaire location with 62 years of history
5130 Bellaire opened their doors as a Weingartens grocery location in 1959 in an odd location within the Bellaire Triangle. From 1959-1984 the store became a hub of activity and by far one of the nicest grocery stores in the area. In 1984 Weingratens left the grocery business and sold their remaining stores to Safeway. As part of the AppleTree fiasco the store served under that banner from 1989-1994 when it was acquired by Randall’s. Of course, when Safeway acquired Randall’s in 1999 they were once again leasing the building from Weingartens! This little store also has a special place in my heart as it is one of the Randall’s locations that I worked at during high school. It was only a few times filling in for shifts from my home store, but this location played great music on the radio, and had a fun little shared kitchen between the deli and bakery, plus lots of other interesting Weingarten and Safeway decor remnants. The location was given an Albertsons remodel when HEB opened their new location across the street but has not been able to keep up. While development plans have not been announced, Weingarten did mention they intended to transform this space into a multi-story mixed used development. HAIF Thread
Less than a year ago, I did write an entire page on the Randalls supermarket there (click my name, it links there), which has a bit on the store itself since the 1950s.
And speaking as a former employee of this store, the shared kitchen between the deli and bakery sucked. It was always crowded, continuously filthy (neither department took responsibility for cleaning all of it), and was dangerous with a number of holes in the ground filled with grease.
I know 7-Eleven has been in the Houston market before, but they disappeared when I was very young so it seems weird to me to have the chain as a major player in c-stores in the region rather than something you encounter in other cities. At least Circle-K also came back, that’s a brand I can get nostalgic about.
I was at that Randall’s not too long ago in search of some Dr. Brown’s cream soda for less than the 2 bucks a can it is at the bagel shop. No luck. It used to be a common sight at grocers that sold specialty sodas (and at Jason’s Deli). I wound up finding some of the diet variety at the HEB across the street… in the kosher section, which is appropriately silly.
I don’t have any connection to 7-Eleven’s time here, and most of my connection to Circle K are the independent “Kompetitors” that stuck around after they closed. I’m glad we’re getting some variety back in the market though. It seems like Timewise has gobbled up lots of smaller chains and their prices are generally much higher than their competition.
As for the Randall’s it’s a shame to see it go due to the history of the building, but it’s to be expected and won’t be a great loss in terms of food choice. We’ve seen multiple grocers pop up in the bottom levels of multi-story developments over the past few years. I wouldn’t be surprised if Whole Foods, or possibly even Kroger parks themselves over here.