Costco’s Business Center doesn’t quite snap into place in Stafford’s Grid
If you’ve been paying attention to any local business news lately you know that Houston’s hottest new mixed-use development “The Grid“, has turned slightly more commercial with the announcement a new Costco location. The Grid was originally envisioned as a mixed used center with a focus on mostly entertainment and multi-family housing. The only retail in the center were some small shops, and a fair number of restaurants. Plans called for a Movie Theater (Cinépolis) and driving range (Drive Shack) to open around the of 2019 to beginning of 2020 according to a Swamplot post from 2019. Developers went so far as to draft letters of intent for the aforementioned swanky entertainment venues. If you’re wondering how a Costco fits into what was once a medium sized office campus, now stuffed to the brim with entertainment venues you have good cause for question. The land purchased by Costco was originally set to be used for the driving range. Although I can’t find an exact point when Drive Shack pulled out of the project, I’m guessing the pandemic didn’t help.
While the exact location of the new Costco has not been disclosed, according to Fort Bend County Appraisal District records the Drive Shack property is the only undeveloped portion of the Grid that would be able to fit the new membership warehouse. The lot comes in at just above 12 acres, and Costco’s announcement specified a 13 acre space for the new store. The new Costco will be directly across the freeway from a long-standing Sam’s Club location. Costco currently operates 18 Business Center locations, with the newest store opening in 2019 in a former Sam’s in Dallas. The locations are different in both selection and mission from the Sam’s Club Business Center concept location that Wal-Mart tested for 2 years in Houston. The Sam’s business centers dropped departments like fresh grocery and soft lines for increased business services, such as copying and office centers. Costco’s methodology is also a little bit different, While the Sam’s concept was tailored more towards convivence stores and smaller specialty operators, Costco aims for medium sized businesses of all varieties, with departments that resemble a standard Costco but with 70% of the merchandise exclusive to the new store.
My Fit Foods officially returns to Houston
My Fit Foods caused quite the stir when the company unexpectedly shutdown in 2017, and they seem to be turning just as many heads with their return to Houston. Their new location off 59 and Buffalo Speedway only takes up a modest amount of space in the former hibachi restaurant they replaced, but as of my visit last weekend business was doing well. Upon entering the door you’re immediately greeted by a row of refrigerators holding prepared meals, and stylish checkouts, but not a whole lot more. The stores do a good job of resembling the original chain but feel a bit emptier by comparison. In addition to the meal prepping solutions, My Fit Foods also offers some bulk grocery supplies. While their locations have never had much in terms of “dine-in” options are truly limited here, with only two microwaves shoved in the corner.
Upon walking into My Fit Foods, I was immediately greeted by a helpful and peppy employee who was kind enough to share some of the history of how MFF ended back up in Houston. The company shut their doors in 2017 with less than a days’ notice given for front line workers across Texas and Oklahoma. This action spurred lots of outrage towards My Fit Foods, leaving an unhealed wound that was somewhat agitated when their new sign rose up earlier this year. Employees associated with the current incarnation of My Fit Foods insist that the stores are around to stay this time. The current batch of stores features the original founders from Austin, where the company has again established their new headquarters. From the employee I spoke with issues from the old chain were placed solely on the shoulders of the private equity firm who purchased them. It is unclear at this time if My Fit Foods has any further expansion plans within the state.
Interesting that the former driving range turned Costco site does not have direct major road access in the development. I would argue that could be an issue, but I’m not sure doubting Costco is ever a good bet.