Howdy folks, and welcome back to Houston Historic Retail! Today we’re taking a look at 5665 Beechnut St, Houston, TX 77096. A Foodarama store with a somewhat unique history. The store initially opened on January 28, 1965, as Weingarten’s Store #66. Construction of this store had started early the year prior alongside the adjacent Maplewood Shopping Center. The center was located right next to the boundaries of the greater Meyerland area, a part of Houston on which Weingarten’s had a stronghold, making it a no-brainer for them to open there. While the store made sense, Weingarten’s aimed to get more out of the location. The adjacent shopping center was being planned by a Dallas-based firm and was to “include a mall.” The “mall” would consist of an air-conditioned sidewalk and an expanded corridor in the center to allow for vendors and activities. At the time, Weingarten’s was attempting to expand their retail holdings, somewhat unsuccessfully. While they had been able to lease adjacent spaces to their stores and work on a few small-scale shopping centers, the company was having trouble expanding the concept. Unfortunately for the Maplewood Mall, within only about four years, Weingarten’s had learned all they seemed to need to announce their own similar project just about a mile away, Braeswood Square, which was recently covered on HHR.
The Weingarten’s in Maplewood Mall was never a “fancy” store. While not cheaply constructed, this store was not as flashy as most and was likely never intended to be super permanent. At the edge of Meyerland, the Weingarten’s had trouble attracting customers, as well as dealing with brazen shoplifters. When the Maplewood Weingarten’s opened, only one other Weingarten’s was within two miles, and by 1970, multiple grocers were now competing in the area. This competition came from Randall’s, Piggly Wiggly, Rice, and four other Weingarten locations within two miles. As such, the decision was made in 1973 to “downgrade” this store to a Valu-King location. While mainly used in the Golden Triangle area, this was a banner that Weingarten’s would convert their poorly performing stores to, usually before closing. By the end of 1974, Weingarten’s would close, and Carrol Cox would choose this store for his second Foodarama location. For the past 48 years, Foodarama has proved its success in this location. In 2004 the shopping center was demalled, and at some point, the store was expanded into the former laundry service next door. Foodarana continues to operate the original Weingarten’s service departments. It is a well put together store, with lots of selection, and polite customer service. In operation, it largely resembles Foodarama’s newest acquisition, another former Weingarten, most recently operating as Food King, which reopened as Foodarama yesterday!