Two Westside Kroger Stores With Unique Safeway and AppleTree Designs

Editor’s Note: Today’s post is a guest submission from HHR’s good friend Anonymous in Houston with the photos taken by Mike

This month’s The Year of Kroger post will be a bit unique for a couple of reasons. For one, this post will be about two different, but similar Houston-area Krogers. Also, a unique aspect of this post is that we will be looking at stores which both started out as Safeway stores, then became AppleTree stores, and then ended up as Kroger stores. Here at Houston Historic Retail, we refer to such stores as Krogways. Long-time readers of Houston Historic Retail will know that Mike has covered a Krogway before, the one located on W. 20th Street. In that case, the Krogway is actually a Krogweinway, or Krogwaygarten, as that store started out as a Weingarten before Safeway and later AppleTree took it over.

The two Krogways we will be looking at this month are the Kroger of the Villages, Kroger HO-600, located at 9325 Katy Fwy, Houston, TX 77024, and the Hammerly Plaza Kroger HO-607 located at 2300 Gessner Rd, Houston, TX 77080. The Kroger of the Villages is so named because it resides in the incorporated city of Hedwig Village which is part of the Memorial Villages area with a handful of other small incorporated areas. The neighborhoods around the Memorial Villages are mostly somewhat older and upper middle-class/upper class. This community sits just south of Interstate 10 and is located near the very successful Memorial City Mall., a friend of the blog, has a profile of Memorial City Mall.

The Hammerly Plaza Kroger is only 3.2 miles away from the Kroger of the Villages. It sits just north of Interstate 10 in the Spring Branch District. While Spring Branch is about the same age as Hedwig Village, Spring Branch has traditionally been more lower/middle middle-class than their neighbors to the south. Nonetheless, like the Kroger of the Villages, Spring Branch is very much located near Memorial City Mall.

The Story of the Hammerly Plaza Kroger, HO-607 (Formerly Safeway #905 & AppleTree Markets #1057)

We will begin our tour of the two Westside Houston Krogways by starting with the store that is currently Kroger HO-607, the Hammerly & Gessner store located within Hammerly Plaza in Spring Branch. We will start with this store because this is the older of the two locations at least in terms of when Safeway originally opened this location. Safeway #905, which originally had an address of 10140 Hammerly Blvd Houston, TX 77080, opened in 1970 as one of the first Safeway stores to open after Safeway officially entered the Houston market in 1969-70. This Safeway was located where Planet Fitness is today. Safeway ultimately elected to replace their 1970 location with a brand new store located in a different part of the same Hammerly Plaza shopping center in the mid-1980s. The new Safeway #905 opened on February 19, 1987 and was one of the last Safeways to open in the Houston area before Safeway sold their Houston operations to what would later go on to become AppleTree Markets just a handful of months later. For an extensive history of Safeway’s years in Houston, I recommend Mike’s Safeway in Houston history guide and also Mike’s AppleTree Markets history guide.

Although the original Safeway #905 was only around 15 years old at the time it was replaced, Safeway had transitioned from smaller supermarkets to food and drug Super Stores during that era and so it made sense for Safeway to replace the store. The new Safeway #905 featured a very unique layout which Safeway was experimenting with at the time. The store has a diamond shape of sorts with a center service department island. This layout, which the store still has as a Kroger, is a very strange store to navigate as you can surely tell from the photos!

This store retained the Safeway name for a couple of years after Safeway exited the Houston market. Once the AppleTree Markets name was selected by the new owners, the store received that name. As stated by Mike in the aforementioned AppleTree history guide, things were not going well for the chain in the early 1990s and most of their stores were sold off to other operators. Kroger purchased a number of locations, including the Spring Branch location, and that is how Kroger HO-607 came to be in 1994. Kroger HO-607 was designated as a Signature store before Kroger phased out the Signature designation. Kroger Signature stores were discussed in February and March’s The Year of Kroger posts. Unlike the bespoke Kroger Signature stores and extensively remodeled and expanded older Kroger Signature stores like the Texas City Kroger, however, the Spring Branch store was a bit on the small side as the store is only around 52,000 sq. ft. in size. Nonetheless, the store still has some of the features one would expect from a Signature store such as an in-store bank. In current times, the store has a First Convenience Bank branch.

The Hammerly Plaza Kroger was remodeled in around 2019 from Kroger’s Bountiful/2012 décor package to Kroger’s Fresh & Local/Neighborhood décor package. The Fresh & Local/Neighborhood décor package was previously seen in August’s The Year of Kroger post about the Memorial & Dairy Ashford Krogertsons. Retail Retell of the Mid-South Retail Blog, a friend of HHR, has an excellent guide profiling both the Fresh & Local/Neighborhood and Bountiful/2012 décor packages. Unfortunately, Kroger also removed the vinyl flooring from this location during last remodel. The concrete floor does not look presentable, in my opinion, but that is what Kroger is using nonetheless. This store could benefit from the fake wood vinyl flooring used at locations such as the Texas City Kroger we saw in April’s The Year of Kroger post.

Aside from the bizarre layout of this store, the most striking feature of this store is the entryway. It features two security catwalks, the traditional Safeway one facing the registers and also one facing the customer service/bank counters. The hanging red light fixtures are original Safeway fixtures from 1987. The arch window provides natural light into the front end of the store. It’s quite a strange layout and it most certainly has a late 1980s feel to it.

The Story of the Kroger of the Villages, HO-600 (Formerly Safeway #934 & AppleTree Markets #934)

The Hedwig Village Safeway opened in 1974 in a new shopping center co-anchored by Sav-On Drugs and the new Kids’ Kounty toy store chain. The history of Kids’ Kounty was documented on Houston Historic Retail back in 2021. As mentioned in the Kids’ Kounty post, the Safeway was originally 27,700 sq. ft. in size. Like with the Hammerly Safeway mentioned earlier, this Safeway did not meet the Super Store standard and, given that Hedwig Village is a higher-income area, Safeway was eager to renovate and the store and make it larger. Safeway had anticipated giving this store a Food Emporium-like design. Food Emporium was a concept Safeway was experimenting with in the 1980s which sold more gourmet foods in higher-end areas. This video from Dallas includes some scenes from inside a Food Emporium store.

Unfortunately, Safeway left the Houston market before they could renovate the Hedwig Village store. AppleTree, however, realized the potential of this location and made it the first, and only, Houston Safeway store that they significantly expanded and remodeled. They added nearly 20,000 sq. ft. of sales space by expanding the front of the store and by taking over some space that was previously part of the shopping center. The exterior of the store resembles the arch window-centered design used by Safeway at the Hammerly Plaza location, but the Kroger of the Villages retained a fairly standard interior layout used by the existing Safeway store. The store received AppleTree’s signature Broadway typeface décor package (photos of this décor package exist in the aforementioned HHR AppleTree history guide) and was, in a way, the flagship AppleTree location in Houston.

However, as previously mentioned, AppleTree ultimately failed in Houston and this location was sold to Kroger just like the Hammerly Plaza location. In a rather rare move, Kroger christened this store as the ‘Kroger of the Villages’ and even gave them a sign with that name. Although this store is in a more upscale location, Kroger never gave this ~48,000 sq. ft. store Signature status. In fact, it does not even have a pharmacy! The aforementioned W 20th Krogweinway and the Kroger at 4000 Polk, which was profiled in May’s The Year of Kroger post, are the only other Houston Kroger stores in current times which do not have a pharmacy. While the Kroger of the Villages does not have a pharmacy, it does have an extensive wine and beer selection. In fact, it even has a dedicated wine room at the front of the store!

On the décor front, the Kroger of the Villages is both a bit more dated and a bit more upscale looking than the Hammerly Plaza Kroger. The Kroger of the Villages is still wearing Kroger’s Bountiful décor package from the early 2010s, but in my opinion, the Bountiful décor looks good at this location. Unlike many Houston Krogers we’ve seen in earlier editions of The Year of Kroger, the Kroger of the Villages uses the full-sized implementation of the décor and they also have more photo squares on the soffits. In some ways, this makes Bountiful look a bit like Safeway’s Lifestyle v2 and v3 décor packages. At least in my opinion, that is not a bad thing! Also, unlike the Hammerly Kroger, the Kroger of the Villages has a vinyl floor, probably from the Script décor era, which gives the store a bright, clean look. Unfortunately, as the photos show, there are some areas where the floor is showing considerable wear. Like with Hammerly Plaza, I suggest that Kroger updates this floor with the fake wood vinyl flooring used at the Texas City Kroger. Given that the bulk of this store dates back to 1974, and that there are expansion areas, converting this store to have a concrete floor would be an even worse decision than it normally is to switch to a concrete floor since the concrete will be extremely patchy looking!

Like the Hammerly Plaza Kroger, The Kroger of the Villages does not have a fuel station or an in-store Starbucks. The Kroger of the Villages once had a café called The Villages Café, which is still advertised on the outside of the store on the green AppleTree-era departmental banner, but that no longer exists. At least as of the writing of this post, neither store has pickup for online orders. This omission is not uncommon at older and/or smaller Kroger stores in the Houston area.

While The Kroger of the Villages does not have a pharmacy, it does have a Walgreens in the shopping center. While the Walgreens is not as big as the Sav-On which proceeded it, there are not an abundance of Walgreens locations in shopping centers left in the Houston area. Most of the remaining ones are, like the Hedwig Village store, in older, wealthier areas.

Kroger’s history in the Spring Branch/Hedwig Village area

Given how close the Hammerly Plaza Kroger and the Kroger of the Villages are to one another, it is worth looking at Kroger’s history in the area. After all, as we’ve seen throughout The Year of Kroger series, today’s Kroger stores are often replacements for older Kroger locations. When the Hammerly Plaza Kroger and the Kroger of the Villages opened in 1994, the store Kroger probably intended to replace with these two locations was likely Kroger HP-257, a Superstore II Greenhouse style store located at 1099 Gessner Rd., Houston, TX 77055. In modern times, Kroger HP-257 and the entire shopping center it was located in have been demolished and replaced with newer and mostly non-retail developments. For a while after Kroger left, an international supermarket named Komart, which had a logo very similar to the modern Kmart logo, operated out of the old Kroger. Kroger HP-257 opened in 1979 and closed in 1997. Kroger HP-257 was close enough to Interstate 10 that it served shoppers in both Hedwig Village and in Spring Branch.

Another Kroger store which served shoppers in Spring Branch was Kroger HP-155 located at 9427 Kempwood Dr., Houston, TX 77080. This store operated between 1974 and 1984. While this store closed long before the Hammerly Plaza Kroger and the Kroger of the Villages opened in 1994, it is fair to say that Kroger HP-257 helped replace the Kempwood Kroger. Another Spring Branch Kroger which helped replace the Kempwood Kroger was Kroger HP-239 located at 8120 Long Point Rd., Houston, TX 77055 in the eastern part of Spring Branch. This store was a replacement for an older Kroger that operated on Long Point Road.  Kroger HP-239 opened in 1980 and closed around the turn of the millennium when it was replaced by Kroger HO-346, a currently-operating Kroger located at 1505 Wirt Rd., Houston, TX 77055. The Wirt Kroger, which is across the street from an old Safeway which is now the Trini Mendenhall Community Center, recently received a renovation with the Kroger Remix décor package. The combination of the removal of the vinyl floor which left behind a lot of tile scar, the cheaply done Remix renovation which applied Remix décor over old Bountiful elements in some places, and the cheapness of the Remix décor itself has, in my opinion, made the Wirt Kroger one the worst looking semi-modern Krogers in the Houston area. This is unfortunate since, in my opinion, the store looked perfectly fine with Bountiful.

In terms of competition, the Hammerly Plaza Kroger most closely competes with an Aldi just north of the Kroger on Gessner and, just north of that, a HEBertsons which has been profiled on Houston Historic Retail. Given that the HEBertsons is not HEB’s best effort, many in the area head to the infamous Bunker Hill HEB which is located close to the Kroger of the Villages, but on the northside of Interstate 10. I say the Bunker Hill HEB is infamous because there is perhaps no other HEB location in Houston which seems to draw as many people as the Bunker Hill HEB. People in other parts of Houston talk about the Bunker Hill HEB as if it is The Galleria when, in fact, it really is not any different than any other larger late 2000s HEB location. That said, the packed crowds at the Bunker Hill HEB seems to attract even bigger crowds.

Those wanting a more peaceful alternative, especially those who wish to shop at a modern-day Safeway, might head to the Town & Country area and shop at the Randall’s located at 12850 Memorial Dr, Houston, TX 77024. While this might be a more peaceful alternative to the Bunker Hill HEB, the ‘Rock Music Randall’s’, as some of the locals call it due to the Randall’s playing rock music over the sound system, is one of the busier Randall’s locations in town. South of Hedwig Village, shoppers can also head to the Kroger and Randall’s locations located on Westheimer near S. Gessner and the Kroger located at San Felipe and S. Voss. There are also a number of ethnic supermarkets in the area such as the 99 Ranch Market in the old Fiesta Mart on Interstate 10 and the H Mart on Blalock & Westview.

I hope you have enjoyed this look inside two Westside Krogways! If you have any thoughts or memories about these two Safeway/AppleTree/Kroger stores, please feel free to share them in the comments section below. We love to hear from our readers!


  1. Was somebody drunk when they designed that first Krogway? That layout makes absolutely no sense to me, and the map doesn’t even help! That, in addition to the fact that it is a Kroger, probably means that I would not frequent the store if I lived nearby. Those concrete floors are terrible too!

    The second Krogway looks much more presentable, and it helps that the store still has it’s Fresh Fare (?) vinyl flooring. This store also has some Bountiful stock photos that I’ve never seen before. I do have to ask, why in the world would Kroger put boxed wine in the wine cellar?! I’m not a wine dinker, but I know that is giving Franzia much more prestige than it deserves. The “of the Villages” part of the exterior signage is also unique.

    I was looking back though my photos from Atlanta’s Disco Kroger and noticed it received the same beer category signs between my 2021 and 2022 visits. Despite you having not seen them elsewhere, they seem to be a modern décor element. You can see them in the background of this image if you zoom in. Also related to Disco Kroger, yesterday I found pictures of the inside of the store from back in 2005 and they are quite the sight! I’ll just say that they confirmed some of my theories, but I’ll let you check them out for yourself in the updated post.

    1. Ha, it is correct to say that the Hammerly Plaza Krogway has a confusing layout even with a map! This was certainly one case where I knew I had to post a map of the store before I got into the photo tour or else everyone would be totally confused. Even with the map, everyone is still mostly confused, lol.

      While Safeway is probably to blame for a lot of this store’s oddities, I’m sure Kroger could have done something to make this store a bit less confusing. Certainly Kroger could have put in a nicer floor! I did shop at this Safeway’s sister store, the one we discussed on your blog which only lasted three months (the Highway 6 & FM 529 store in the Copperfield area of Houston), but that store was in a normal shopping center spot and not one which required a diamond-shaped layout. Given the very brief life of that store 35+ years ago, I can’t remember much about it, but I think it had the service department island like this Krogway has.

      The Kroger of the Villages is the nicer, more conventional store. Perhaps Retail Retell or NW Retail would know for sure, but I think Kroger Script and Fresh Fare used the same flooring design. I think Fresh Fare was only used in Houston at our former Disco Kroger, so I don’t have much experience with Fresh Fare, but the Script decor was pretty common here. I’m guessing those beer/wine hanger signs then are probably from the Fresh Fare/Script era as well. They certainly aren’t commonly used around here. It really doesn’t make any sense to me why they’d keep boxed wines in the wine cellar, that seems like the last thing they should feature so prominently in that space! Maybe the people in The Villages love their boxed wines, but I’m sure they’ll never admit to it, lol.

      Wow, that Atlanta Disco Kroger decor is really something. It looks like the For Goodness Sake/Olympic Spirit decor package which was seemingly an Atlanta Division special. Certainly we never saw anything like that, we went straight from Kroger Neon to Millennium. You better hide that corrugated metal decor from NW Retail, he’ll hate seeing that!

      1. Yeah, I think you’re right that the flooring design is shared between Script and Fresh FAre. As for the beer/wine category signs, the ones you see in this post were installed in Atlanta’s Disco Kroger between 2021 and 2022 so they are part of Kroger’s current design. Based on Disco Kroger (Fresh Fare) and the Olympic Spirit store I covered, both of those packages originally used Art Nouveau-style signs.

        The thing that is strange about the Atlanta Division’s Olympic Spirit package is how it was used simultaneously with Millennium. It almost looks like Olympic Spirit was reserved for higher end stores or new construction locations but I could be wrong. Based on the Art Deco façade detailing, I had theorized that Disco Kroger remodeled to Olympic Spirit when it was expanded in 2001 and I suppose these pictures prove I was right.

  2. Not a fan of that white exterior at all! The store looked much classier in its original color, I hate it when retailers paint their brick exteriors.

    1. Yes, I agree with you, Anon. I generally don’t like it when stores and developers paint their brick facades and I really don’t like it in the case of the Hedwig Village store because the brick color looked very nice. It is certainly nicer than the all-white look we see here.

  3. We get 2-for-1 for the penultimate Year of Kroger post! Nice!

    I’d expect a corner entrance layout from Sam’s Club or Costco, but not Safeway or Kroger! Very strange!

    Does the produce décor extend along the wall thru the HBA aisles over to the pharmacy? If so, that’s strange as well! Good to see fresh and local, though. And thanks as always for the link.

    The bread and rolls wall with the same blue color as the bakery is interesting to see. I’ve only seen bread and rolls décor in one or two other fresh and local stores, so I don’t have much of a basis for comparison, but I haven’t seen that pairing before — I do like it, though.

    Crazy that the restrooms are within the deli/bakery island — this store is full of unusual stuff! And even though it was only briefly mentioned, the former McDonald’s Express in the parking lot is something unusual as well! The one in Memphis that I did a post on a few years ago has since closed. They relocated across the street to a full-time restaurant built on the lot of a closed Rite Aid, which I think I even predicted would happen in my post, lol. Still, glad I got to see it before it was gone!

    As for the other location — I think I like this one better of the two. The other one has the more unique layout, but there’s more fun stuff in here! Those wine department “image squares” are a first for me, so it’s especially awesome to see those!! (Side note, I have struggled with what to call those in the past, but “image squares” work nicely, haha!)

    The sentence-case “Ground Turkey” gooseneck is an interesting find as well, as are the goosenecks in the beer aisle — I’ve never seen those in person before (to my knowledge), but they do look familiar… perhaps they were in a store Northwest Retail featured at some point?

    On the topic of Smart Way, Kroger seems to introduce a “bargain”/price conscious store brand every few years or so… I remember around 2016/2017 or so, they had the brand “Psst…”, with an owl mascot. All of my spices in my spice drawer are from that brand since they were purchased during college, lol.

    I’m surprised neither of these stores has Pickup! Seems like every Kroger I know of in the Delta Division has that by now. Of course, I can’t possibly know about every single store, but I’m pretty certain it’s been in every store I’ve gone inside in recent years.

    Anyway, another great post! Looking forward to the finale next month!

    1. The funny thing is that we weren’t planning on making this a 2-for-1 post. I was a bit hesitant at first to even include the Hammerly Kroger in TYOK because of how ugly the store is after the floor was removed. I was also a bit concerned that this would be a very hard store to explain due to the very odd layout, but Mike was rightly convinced that this store needed to be covered and him finding a map of the store really helps making the ‘stour’ less confusing! Besides, the two stores share the same overall area and history so it made sense to combine them. There are just too many oddities with Hammerly for it to not be covered.

      The green produce wall does extend all the way to the pharmacy, but there are actually health foods located along that wall in between produce and the pharmacy/HBA so maybe it isn’t completely ill-fitting. The floating HBA aisles have blue toppers on the shelves so there is at least a little bit of a departmental atmosphere with them.

      I actually went to this McDonald’s Express when it was an Express in the 1990s. The idea of a Checkers-like McDonald’s certainly generated a buzz in the area and we had to check it out! It is kind of funny that the Express was replaced with a downsized full McDonald’s!

      I agree, I find the Hedwig Village store to be the nicer of the two stores even if it wasn’t a Signature store. It is amazing that there are still Bountiful oddities out there like what this store has given how well explored Bountiful has been over the years! The capitalization on those meat hangers did catch my attention and I do think NW Retail has shown this before, but I honestly can’t remember where. It sounds like a QFC kind of thing!

      That whole ‘Psst’ brand seemed rather bizarre to me when it came out. I wonder what made Kroger think ‘Psst’ would make for a good brand name! Maybe Smart Way will stick around for a while like Cost Cutter did back in the day, but it might just be the case that Kroger needs to cycle through new names on the lowest end items just to erase bad memories people may have of products which didn’t meet expectations. That said, in the few cases where I bought ‘Psst’ stuff, it was more or less what I expected it to be so I can’t say I was left disappointed by them.

      December’s TYOK post should be a lot of fun! I think a lot of people will be excited to see that particular Kroger store so it should be a grand way to close the series!

  4. Man, I really think the Villages store looks terrible in white! Bring back the brick, bring back the CHARACTER…lol

    1. Yes, I agree, I don’t like the new white paint on the outside of the Kroger of the Villages. I generally don’t like it when retailers paint brick buildings. It usually looks worse than it did before and, in some cases, it is just completely tacky. I wouldn’t consider this to be tacky, but it is a downgrade. The Wirt & Westview Kroger was also somewhat recently painted on the outside covering the brick finish, but the bigger tragedy there is the absolutely horrendous interior ‘renovation’ that store received.

  5. I like the unusual layout of the Hammerly Kroger. I don’t love it, but it’s interesting. The store has such a small parking lot but it’s still never full, at least when I go. The number of cars typically in the lot at the HEB up Gessner would never fit there. And that Kempwood/Gessner HEB is a ghost town compared to the Bunker Hill HEB.
    I shop mostly at the Kempwood/Gessner HEB, and I’m happy that it seems to have settled down from its recent mild remodel.

    1. With the Hammerly Krogway being wedged in between the HEBertsons in one direction and Sam’s Club, Costco, and the Bunker Hill HEB (Price Club would have been an option around the time the Krogway first opened as a Kroger), not to mention the other Krogers in the area including Hedwig Village, the Hammerly Krogway certainly has the feel of and fits the part of being a neighborhood store for quick shopping trips versus being a place to do major grocery shopping. It’s not that someone can’t do major shopping at that Krogway as it used to be a Signature store, but I suspect a lot of people shop here to fill gaps left by other stores. That might help to explain the parking situation.

      Those who are used to the layout of this store might feel otherwise, but for an occasional shopper, the layout of the Hammerly Krogway must surely be very disorienting. It certainly is something different though and for retail enthusiasts, that does make it interesting at the very least.