Howdy folks, and welcome back to Houston Historic Retail. Today we’re taking a look at a former Randalls in Katy, now known as Katy Supermarket. Since closing in early 2017, this former Randalls has held four three different grocery concepts, with none really seeming to take off. Before we talk about what’s there now, let’s start off with some history. The Katy Randalls was one of the last locations to open and likely the last to have direct involvement from the Onstead family. The store first opened its doors on October 10, 1998. Upon opening, the store operated 24 hours a day and, at the time, was the most advanced store in the chain, with many new appointments and special features to attract suburban shoppers. The store was meant to serve as a replacement for a 1980s location up Mason Road. The choice of location was entirely intentional; beyond the growing Katy suburbs, newcomer HEB had recently opened a Pantry Foods outlet across the street. This new store would be Randall’s attempt to prove that they could easily quash this new competitor with superior service. Over the next few years, things at this store would seem to go swimmingly. While Randalls didn’t exactly quash HEB, they did provide good competition. In 2001, HEB chose their Mason Road store to be one of the first in Houston to move from a Pantry Foods to a new full-size location to help keep up with Randalls. This cordial but somewhat fierce relationship would continue for the next 15 years.In 2016, Albertsons, which had recently purchased Safeway, including Randalls and Tom Thumb, began taking stock of their operations. Albertsons only knew the Houston market briefly, entering in the mid-90s, and leaving by 2003. While they had seen success in other parts of Texas, they knew our market was tough and began closing stores and, eventually, our distribution center.
When this location ended up on the chopping block, this upset some folks in the area. Some chose to shop at Randalls because they preferred it, and others chose it simply to avoid the madhouse that can often be HEB. With their choices now limited, it didn’t take for another grocer to become interested in the spot. The first proposed use was for “EZ Mart.” An Asian grocery store and food court. However, with competition like 99 Ranch Market up the street, the idea pivoted for the former Randalls to open as the second z.Tao location, an already established Asian grocery store in Plano. Almost everything from Randalls was removed as part of the renovations, save for the butcher counter, which was reused. The rest of the store had spaces and sections cordoned off to create leasable spots, including both the food court and general tenants. During the grand opening, many praised z.Tao as a grocery store, but felt its food court and other retail opportunities, a staple of Asian grocery stores, were quite lacking. Unfortuantely z.Tao would only make it about a year before shutting down in late 2019. Middle Eastern Grocery retailer Souq lept at the chance to reopen the newly renovated store. Souq, which at the time had only one store in Georgia, planned to expand from its traditional core and make this new location a true international store, carrying Hispanic, Asian, and Middle Eastern products in addition to traditional American groceries. The owners even started plans for a second location on Westheimer. However, opening in the midst of a pandemic proved to be a large burden on the company, which would only make it a few months before shutting down, and eventually relocating. In 2021 a Katy local would take control of the building, walling off about two-thirds of the former Randalls, leaving only the very basic remains of an Asian grocery store. Katy Supermarket seems to be doing quite well, still using the fixtures installed by the never opened Easy Mart, although it seems to have been sold recently; indications from visiting the store are that it will likely be around for a bit. So for anyone counting, the answer to how many tries it takes to get a Randalls running again, it’s four.