Howdy folks, and welcome back to Houston Historic Retail. If you’re one of our more recent fans and have yet to check out a Randallsarama, consider giving my 2021 visit to one a look. I’ll be making some references to it in this post, and it’s also the birth of the HHR Dictionary, with other entries like Krogerstons popping up more recently. Foodarama is no stranger to former Randall’s locations, they seem to flock to them, compared to some other grocers who rarely operate out of them. Many of the former Randall’s that Foodarama has taken over are not bad stores per se. Most were closed early on by Randall’s as they were underperforming in a division that was hemorrhaging money. It wasn’t that these stores were losing money in sales, more so in operating costs, and would likely still be Randall’s locations if they weren’t losing the battle against HEB in Houston. Today’s store at 7320 Antoine Dr, Houston, TX 77088 started out as a Randalls, holding their grand opening in mid-1985. The store was built in a previously undeveloped section of land. It operated up until the 2005 round of closures when it and many other underperforming stores were shuttered. This location, which was built in the heart of Inwood, had drifted from its key demographic over the years. Inwood, has generally always been a working-class neighborhood, and as such when Randall’s became all “uppity” in their Flagship days, they began to lose business to other stores in the neighborhood. Namely, a Gerland’s Food Fair, operating out of an old Weingarten nearby.
In late 2005, Randall’s announced their plans to close 16 underperforming stores. 7320 Antoine was included in this list of stores, with Foodarama recognizing that this store was closed due to a demographic shift rather than true underperformance, their plans to turn it around were quickly set into motion. The Wells Fargo bank inside of Randall’s would close prior to the store, with Foodarama renting out the space on a continual basis since then, to many different small businesses such as phone repair shops, and insurance bureaus. During this 2005 round of closures, one other store would later be picked up by Foodarama, 11021 Fuqua St Houston, TX 77089, which has since unceremoniously closed during the pandemic. Which, unfortunately, seems to have really taken its toll on Foodarama, with them closing two stores since 2020 after 15 years of not closing any locations. The conversion of this location involved the removal of some key service components. The deli and pharmacy were obvious gonners, however, the bakery was able to stick around thanks to a third party renting out the space and stocking a relatively normal assortment of bakery goods. The pharmacy was replaced by a soda section as is common in both Foodarama and Food Town when taking over old Randall’s stores. It’s bulky and vendor-supplied so they don’t have to pay for the backstock. The decor would receive the standard Foodarama update: a skin-deep coat of paint and wooden accouterments.
Thankfully, Foodarama didn’t have much need to go crazy on the new decor. Lots of Randall’s was able to be kept, including most of the flooring, some of the wall coverings, and doors. There’s no doubt Randall’s built good stores, and they took care of them too. One of the odder decor updates, is the printing of food all over vertical surfaces, including walls, coolers, shelving, etc… I’ve seen photos of it in other locations and it always seemed a little hokey. In real life though, it comes off pretty well done, there are some obviously outdated graphics, but nothing egregious. Another change from Randall’s to Foodarama was the reduction of the Meat and Seafood department. While there is still a butcher’s counter, they do not sell fresh seafood to order, only meat. The selection of the butcher is also a bit more limited than what you’d find at Randall’s. While the bakery is near equivalent, the butcher is not, limited to mostly staple meats, and none of the fancy pre-prepared meats you can often find at chain stores. However, none of these issues seemed to directly affect the store’s popularity. It was relatively busy when I visited, while not as much of a traffic draw as the original Randallsarama seems to be, this store is the only one in Inwood with a butcher counter and bakery.
This Randallsarama was a neat little store. It shows that Foodarama is still interested in serving the community. This store obviously isn’t the busiest in this part of town, a prize that would go to the aforementioned Food Town. However, this one is easily the nicest grocery store in this part of Houston. There are plenty of throwbacks to the Randall’s days, but admittedly the decor isn’t as spectacular as the Missouri City Randallasarama. If you’re in the area, then I’d recommend stopping by to check it out, also grab something out of the bakery case, it was all really tasty!