The interesting Food Town in the boring Brookshire Bros Building

Howdy, folks, and welcome back to HHR. Today, we’re taking a look at a unique store. This Food Town at 23221 Aldine Westfield Rd, Spring, TX 77373, might have a relatively unremarkable look, but this building has held some very interesting stores over the years. To start off with some background, retail in this area of Spring was somewhat slow to develop compared to the rest of the area. Smaller strip centers popped up along FM 1960 in the early 80s, including a Rice Food Markets location a few blocks South. This space would finally be developed in 1985 and 1986 as part of an attempt by Brookshire Brothers to enter the Houston market. The Lufkin-based grocer had been on the fringes of Houston via Katy and Conroe since the mid-70s. In the early 80s, the company developed the “Budget Chopper” brand as an attempt to enter the Houston market further. The concept was, as the name sounds, a discount supermarket. Despite the discount aspect, the stores would still be considered upmarket against other Houston discounters of the time. Other Budget Chopper locations would open in Tomball, Rosenberg, and Magnolia before this store opened in late 1986. Despite the discount spin, it featured a pharmacy, a movie rental counter, and a full complement of service departments. It was a more complete selection than the nearby Rice. In 1992, in what would have been disastrous for most other stores, HEB Pantry Foods purchased Rice’s store and opened up shop. Budget Chopper did well despite this new competition, likely thanks to a superior selection. While this store did well, the Budget Chopper brand didn’t fare quite as well and was discontinued around 1997. Rather than close, this store and a few others were converted to Brookshire Brothers, which unfortunately proved to be a mistake, and this location was closed by the end of 1998.

While Brookshire Brothers was down, they weren’t out. From what I can tell, they either never canceled this lease or were able to pick it back up cheaply. In 2004, the store was remodeled and expanded by a few thousand square feet in preparation for reopening. Brookshire Brothers would reopen the store as fancy as ever in 2005. Again, this wouldn’t be a super fancy store, but the “new” Brookshire Brothers looked pretty nice compared to the old Pantry Foods down the street. However, it seems this store once again failed to gain market share. The store was renamed “Fresh Harvest” in 2007, along with a few other former Budget Chopper locations. For whatever reason, Brookshire Brothers could not recapture the magic of Budget Chopper, despite an attempt to revive the brand in 2008, and by the end of 2009, this location on Aldine Westfield would close again. It would sit vacant for a few years again until being picked up by Gerland’s in 2012. They would open it as their final Food Fair location, as the company would be purchased by Grocers Supply Co. They would, of course, sell Gerland’s in 2015 to Food Town, who flipped the store to their format. Lewis Food Town continues to operate this store to great success. In 2017, the nearby Pantry Foods closed when Joe V’s opened in 1960, making this Food Town the closest grocery store for many shoppers.

One comment

  1. The grocers who have been at this building, including Gerland’s Food Fair/Food Town, certainly have an interesting history with all the bouncing between mid-tier and budget-tier formats. That said, this is probably the worst flooring I’ve seen at a Food Town! While I suppose we can’t expect every Food Town to have a nice, well-preserved 1990s Albertsons vinyl tile floor, even the Airline & Little York Food Town with 1970s (almost 1960s) Eagle flooring looks better than this. That Food Eagle looks nicer in general than this Food Brothers store given that the Food Eagle has the fake 1990s Food Lion decor as well.

    If someone from Food Town is reading this, I’m generally a fan of Food Town and I shop at my local Food Towns which have proper floor coverings. So, with that, give this location a proper floor too!