A look into Houston's retail past

Food Lion

Company History

Food Lion was founded in 1957 in Salisbury, North Carolina under the name Food Town. The chain expanded throughout North Carolina and was acquired by the Belgium Based Delhaize Group in 1973. The company continued to expand and crossed state lines into Virginia in 1983. Due to the name Food Town already being utilized by a Richmond, VA based chain the Food Lion name was adopted. This name was chosen because of Delhaize Group’s use of a lion in their logo. Throughout the 80’s the chain continued to expand across the Mid-Atlantic and Southwestern U.S. opening hundreds of stores.


Expansion into Texas

In 1990 Food Lion announced their intentions to expand into Dallas. By September of 1991 they had opened 21 stores, and a distribution center. When asked about their future plans they indicated that they had no immediate plans to enter the South Texas market. By January of 1992 they had opened 42 stores in Dallas, and announced that they were in fact planning on entering the Houston market.

A Former Food Lion in Houston

Development in Houston

In September of 1992 Food Lion purchased a nearly 3.5 acres on Eldridge near Jess Pirtle in Sugar Land to develop a new store. At the time the company was also developing stores at  the 2500 block of Texas Parkway and Independence Road in Missouri City and at the 600 block of Cartwright Road in Missouri City. One of the Independence Blvd store was the first to open on December 3, 1992 along with the Baytown store on the same day. At this point Food Lion maintained their ambitious plan to continue to expand to 40 locations.


Primetime Live

In the fall of 1992 ABC’s Primetime Live was tipped off about unsanitary practices occurring in Food Lion stores. Two producers on the show were able to obtain jobs at Food Lion. During their employment the producers used hidden cameras to record employees. The report which aired showed unsanitary food practices, such as repacking expired meat, bleaching old pork, and using nail polish remover to re-date dairy products. Food Lion later sued ABC and uncovered unaired footage that indicated that workers were coerced to violate policy by the ABC producers, but the damage was done.

A Former Meat Department

 

Withering plans in Houston

The Primetime Live report hit hard all around the nation however the hardest hit stores were in Texas. Both the Dallas and Houston divisions were still newcomers within their markets. With the Dallas stores having been around only a year, and the Houston stores not even open yet. On Christmas Day 1992 Food Lion announced their intentions to drop back from 40 prospective stores to only 8. Food Lion continued to open stores. At the same time H-E-B started to move into Houston via the Pantry Food stores. A price war broke out between the grocers, which ended up with Food Lion losing money. In a bid to help supplement income Food Lion began to purchase larger lots with intentions of selling pad sites to other retailers. By November of 1993 Food Lion was up to 13 locations in the Houston area. Although the company warned that if business did not pick up they would be forced to drop their newer stores, but no dates were set. The company continued to operate their stores until their  sudden closure was announced on January 8th, 1994. The company announced that they would close 6 of the 13 Houston locations, and 36 of the 69 Dallas stores where the chain had fared a bit better. By the end of 1994 all Houston Food Lion locations were shutdown.

 


 

Food Lion Locations

Store Numbers
Address
Current Tenant
Opening Dates
11391530 Independence Blvd, Missouri City, TXFiesta1992-199?? April 1998-Present
11403002 W Baker Rd, Baytown, TXFood Town1993-1995 ?-Present
114313855 Bissonnet St Houston, TXHCCS Alief Center1993-1994 ?-Present
11444001 Preston Rd, Pasadena, TXBayside Medical Center1993-1995 2002-Present
11454711 Center St, Deer Park, TXFaith Bridge Church????
130010707 S Gessner Rd Houston, TXValley West Elementary1993-1994 ?-Present
13011130 Eldridge Rd Sugar Land, TXFood TownDecember 3, 1992-199? ?-Present
13022311 Strawberry Rd, Pasadena, TXSellers Bros.1993-1995 ?-Present
130315355 Blackhawk Blvd, Friendswood, TXVacant????
13042280 E Main St League City, TXUncle Bob's Self Storage1993-199? ?-Present
130613400 Veterans Memorial Dr Houston, TXHong Kong Food Market1993-1994 1995-Present
13119520 Jones Rd, Houston, TXFood TownProperty purchased in 1992 from Safeway.
13123849 Cartwright Rd, Missouri City, TXMissouri City PDJune 1992-199?1997-Present

*Please note that original store numbers are unknown and are for the purpose of the list only.

Reader Comments

  1. Can you please build a food lion here in magnolia texas and montgomery texas and conroe texas really loved shopping there when i lived in north carolina and gerogia

  2. Interesting read about Food Lion’s short run in Texas. I’ve always found it strange to think Food Lion was ever in Texas and Oklahoma at one time, considering that chain is tied so closely to the Carolinas and surrounding states. If it weren’t for the Primetime Live scandal, who knows how far out Food Lion could have expanded. It’s also interesting to see the early 90’s Food Lion decor remains at a handful of their former Texas locations, considering how long ago they closed and how short lived the stores were. I also see you have a table of Food Lion’s Texas stores here. I have a spreadsheet I downloaded from Food Lion corporate a number of years ago that lists all the Texas locations (including store numbers) in my archives. If you like, I can send you the spreadsheet with the Texas stores so you have all the locations on your record.

    1. Thank you! It was an odd one, if the scandal never happened I could seem Food Lion flourishing in Texas. I’ve actually been to quite a few of the former locations, and almost every one I’ve been to still has at least some of the Food Lion decor. I’d deffinetly love to see that spreadsheet. I’ll drop you an email.

  3. when viewing the inside of the food a rama on south post oak @ ridgecreek

    does this look like the food lion font in each isle?

    since they used the papas font, know as the denmark font?

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