In 2015, Randall’s wasn’t doing exceptionally well, but the chain was about to get a bit of a boost with the impending Albertson’s Acquisition, which had been in the works for at least a year prior. Most of Randall’s problems stemmed from parent company Safeway, and those in charge at Albertson’s, who had previously operated in Houston, seemed eager to give our market another try. One of the first Randall’s in Houston to receive an update was the Midtown location at 2225 Louisiana St, Houston, TX 77002. When the location originally opened in 2002 it was part of an expansion push undertaken by Safeway who had only become owner of the chain 3 years prior. This Midtown store stood out from the other Randall’s locations built that year, which were spread throughout the suburbs. While it seemed like an odd location for a new store, Midtown was already relatively gentrified in certain areas by the 90s. Despite the large presence of both single and multi-family housings in addition to a few residential towers in the area, there was little grocery presence in either downtown or midtown options were limited. Over the last 20 years, Randall’s has been able to capitalize on this lack of competition quite well. When Albertsons decided to return to town, giving this store a refresh was high on the priority list, taking place in 2016 less than a year after the purchase. Prior to this, the last large scale renovation completed in Houston was the Lifestyle Implementation over 10 years prior!
The Midtown location is far from the most recent Randall’s remodel in Houston, it is the only one that I know not using Lifestyle decor. Although a few DFW stores have received the decor package. Most remodels since then have used the Albertsons Colorful V3 Lifestyle Decor (Is that the correct name?) such as seen in the recently closed Bellaire Randall’s. With Albertsons consolidating stores, custom branded bags have been replaced by generic brown bags using Randalls/Tom Thumb colors (although it’s worth noting the bags are in use at all three chains also thanks to AIH for the photo!). While the future of Randall’s has been quite murky, with far more emphasis being given to the Austin stores, where a new location opened in 2017, and the DFW Tom Thumb stores, where in addition to new locations, an Albertsons has recently been converted to a Tom Thumb. While Houston has had more closures than reassurances, one thing that seems to be consistent is the Midtown Randall’s. Even with the opening of Whole Foods a few blocks South, Randall’s still proves to be busy. With Fiesta taking on a new life as part of Rice University, main stream grocers are difficult to find in the area, and Randall’s fits the bill. Save for an H-E-B invasion, I think we’re safe for now, but I personally wouldn’t knock on those wooden sign panels.
Yes, about a month before COVID-19 I took a trip to Houston and bought a few drumsticks at the deli to eat them above the rest of the store. It was really nice, I enjoy places that let you see the whole store like that.
Must be kinda neat to look out across the store from the second floor. I had the opportunity to do that many years ago in the North Shepherd Fiesta, but never since.
What’s interesting is that Randall’s has named the mezzanine cafe as ‘The Hermann Cafe.’ I suppose this is some extension of Randall’s naming strategy with the aisles. Actually, that’s a pretty common aspect of the Safeway Modern decor package it seems, but some areas with Safeway Modern don’t have the named aisles. I’m not sure why not, but at least we do get the names with Randall’s and Tom Thumb stores in Texas.
Although I think the Safeway Modern decor package looks pretty good, I think it looks better with actual floor covering. As far as I know, this is also the only Randall’s in Houston with concrete floors. All the Lifestyle Randall’s stores in Houston have flooring cover. This Midtown Randall’s also had flooring covering when it had the Lifestyle v2 decor package. Although Randall’s didn’t do as bad of a job exposing the concrete here as some hideous HEB and Kroger concrete floor jobs we’ve seen, I still prefer seeing flooring covering and so I prefer the look of the Lifestyle stores. I think the recently remodeled Randall’s with Colorful Lifestyle v2 and Lifestyle v3 look quite nice.