Minimax

Company History
Minimax was a grocery franchise system with roots in Brenham, Texas. Unfortunately it’s difficult to find information online about the chain, and nearly impossible to find anything about it prior to expanding into Houston. Based purely off assumption they offered self-service dry goods and groceries likely starting in Brenham and a few other central Texas towns. The first Houston store opened December 18th, 1931. It was one of the first grocery stores in Houston to include specialty departments like a bakery, butcher, deli, and even a pharmacy which had a soda fountain.

Houston History
The first Houston location was owned by E.A. Eversberg, who also held the national franchise rights to Minimax. The store was run by assistant manager C.T. Newton. As was customary at the time meat sales were handled by independent butchers, Moss and Foster, who were considered to be the premier butchers of Houston’s City Market moved their operations to the new Minimax. The pharmacy was also operated by an independent company, Austin Pharmacy, it seems that the pharmacy sublet some of their space to a barber shop. The Minimax and Meat Market were all in shared space, with the barber and pharmacy separate.

The original Minimax building is still standing at 1200 Westheimer. Now occupied by Slick Willie’s Pool Hall the building still looks quite like this.

This new style of all in one grocery shopping managed to quickly win over customers who were used to shopping either in open air markets or small specialty shops. Convenience and availability during foul weather helped to drive the idea of combined grocery stores not only in Houston but throughout the U.S.. Self-Service grocery was already prevalent in other parts of the nation and was proving to be effective in Texas too especially with the expansion of Piggly Wiggly. Minimax continued to grow their stores throughout Houston and all of Texas.

Minimax continued to be the dominant leader in grocery throughout the 50s, when company owned supermarkets began to pop up in Houston. While Minimax had a much larger service area the difference in operations allowed huge price cuts. Minimax managed to hang on during the late 60s with Henke & Pilot being converting to Kroger, and Safeway beginning their first expansion. Minimax managed to survive until the 1980s, and some locations may have made it into the 90s. However, this was at a reduced presence compared to the statewide locations the chain had previously held. Many of the buildings still stand. However, very few if any still operate as full-fledged grocery stores. Mostly due to the small nature of the original Minimax locations.

An Austin location from 1956.
Credit: Douglass, Neal. Crestview Minimax Food Mart, photograph, August 15, 1956; (https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth33127/: accessed April 10, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, https://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Austin History Center, Austin Public Library.

As of 2018, most of Houston’s original grocery stores are remembered in some way. Weingartens continues to own and manage many of their former properties and the shopping centers they occupy. Henke & Pilot has become the name of a trendy Gastropub. While Minimax has been left to the wind. With only a single somber reminder. Minimax Drive, a road leading to the now demolished Distribution Center East of the also abandoned Northwest Mall.

Address
Notes
1001 S Broadway St La Porte, TX 77571La Porte Holiday Foods Minimax, La Porte Minimax 1979
1019 Westheimer Rd Houston, TX 77006Store #1, Company Owned December 18, 1931-, Jamail's 1953, Florian's #3 1955, 1967
10341 Palestine St Houston, TX 77029Martin & Wallace Minimax 1953, McBride Minimax 1955, 1959
1117 Bayou Rd La Marque, TX 77568Texas Super Minimax 1981
1153 Kingwood Dr Kingwood, TX 77339Kingwood Minimax 1976, 1981
11530 Bellaire Blvd Houston, TX 77072Brays Forest Minimax 1976, 1979
1201 Strawberry Rd Pasadena, TX 77506Strawberry Minimax 1967, Kingmart Minimax 1976, 1979 demolished after 2013 for a Stripes
1204 Westheimer Rd Houston, TX 77006Likely original location. Built around 1930 still standing now a Slick Willie's Pool Hall
1238 W 43rd St Houston, TX 77018Florian's #1 Minimax 1955, 1967
12512 Bellaire Blvd Houston, TX 77072Ferguson's Minimax/Bellford Crossing Minimax 1981
12661 Market Street Rd, Houston, TX 77015Built 1950, 1953 Store #2, Handy-Dandy Minimax 1959
1285 Pinemont Dr Houston, TX 77018King Mart Minimax, 1976, 1979, 1981 now HCC Northeast
1301 Wayside Dr, Houston, TX 77023Angle & Lynch Minimax 1953, Angle's Minimax 1955
1303 Ella Blvd, Houston, TX 77008Continental #2 Minimax 1967
13815 S Post Oak Rd Houston, TX 77045Allen's Minimax 1967
1411 Ahrens St Houston, TX 77017Womack's #1 Minimax 1953, 1967, 1979
1424 Spring Cypress Rd Spring, TX 77373Spring Minimax 1976, 1979
1719 Garth Rd Baytown, TX 77520Texas Superfoods 1979,1981 Now a furniture store.
1728 W Mt Houston Rd Houston, TX 77038Clayton's Minimax Opened 1978 still open in 1983
1813 Center St Deer Park, TX 77536Plaza Minimax
18518 Kuykendahl Rd Spring, TX 77379Wheat's Minimax/Village Green Minimax 1981
2014 Clinton Dr Galena Park, TX 77547Whisenant's Minimax 1953
219 N Taylor St Alvin, TX 77511Stanton's Minimax 1967, 1979, 1981 Still Open without the Minimax name!
220 West Sterling Pasadena, TXWhisenant's Minimax 1955
2410 Bay Area Blvd, Houston, TX 77058Barne's Minimax 1981
2540 E Broadway St Pearland, TX 77581Pearland Minimax 1967/Texas Super Minimax 1981
2555 Gessner Rd Houston, TX 77080Kyle's Minimax was previously a Gerland's
2601 Cartwright Rd Missouri City, TX 77459Hopper's Minimax Open in 1986, possibly in 1992. Previously a Gerland's now a gym.
2728 Texas Ave Texas City, TX 77590Texas Super Minimax 1979
2801 Palmer Hwy Texas City, TX 77590Texas Superfoods (Did not use Minimax Name)
2902 N Shepherd Dr Houston, TX 77008Minimax No 11 1953, Florian's #2 Minimax 1955, 1967
302 Winkler Dr, South Houston, TX 77587Hord's Minimax 1955, Florian's #4 Minimax 1959
3020 Little York Rd, Houston, TX 77093Little York Minimax 1967
3102 Milam St Houston, TX 77006Store #3 1935-?
3421 Spencer Hwy Pasadena, TX 77504Popp-Jones Minimax 1967
3910 Aldine Mail Rte Rd Houston, TX 77039Continental Minimax 1976
405 South ParkWomack's #2 Minimax 1959
4520 Holmes Rd Houston, TX 77033J.D. Jamail Minimax (Inside King Center) 1953, 1955, King Center Minimax 1959
519 Jackson Ave Pasadena, TX 77506A&G Minimax 1979, 1981
5109 Fulton St Houston, TX 77009Joe Di Chiara Minimax 1955
Demolished after 2011 Company Owned July 30, 1932- Company Owned July 30, 1932-
5321 Westheimer Rd Houston, TX 77056Minimax Foodliner 1955, Lamar Terrace Minimax 1959
5472 Bellaire Blvd Bellaire, TX 77401Bellaire Minimax 1959
5550 North Freeway Houston, TX 77076 Martin’s Minimax now a 99 Cents Only Store
5817 W Airport Blvd Houston, TX 77035Westbury Minimax 1967, Barne's Westbury Minimax 1976, 1979
603 S Friendswood Dr Friendswood, TX 77546K.U. Davis Minimax 1967? Mitchell's Minimax 1979
620 W. Shaver Street, Pasadena, TX 775061950
6919 Jensen Dr Houston, TX 77093Coleman's Minimax 1955,1967
6935 W Bellfort Blvd Houston, TX 77035Wynn-Warren Minimax 1967
711 W Gray St Houston, TX 770191950 Store #4
7925 Katy Fwy Houston, TX 77024Continental #1 Minimax 1967
820 S Oak St La Marque, TX 77568Texas Superfoods Minimax 1981
850 Maxey Rd Houston, TX 77013Maxey Rd Minimax 1981
8540 Broadway St Pearland, TX 77584Dell's Minimax 1979
8622 Irvington Blvd Houston, TX 77022Carmona's Minimax 1967, 1979, 1981
9101 Long Point Rd Houston, TX 77055Miller's Minimax 1955
Alta Loma, TXTombrella Minimax 1967, Santa Fe Minimax 1979
Cleveland, TXCleveland Minimax 1981
Conroe, TXBarber's Minimax 1953
Dickinson, TXBayshore Minimax 1967
1535 Elton St Houston, TX 77034Freeway Manor Minimax 1959, 1967
Ganado, TXKucera's Minimax 1953
Livingston, TXWilliam's Minimax 1953
Leauge City, TXSnell's Minimax 1967
Memorial Drive at West BeltWynn-Warren Minimax 1967
20 Highway 59 Porter, TXPorter Minimax Highway 59 at FM 1314 Possibly where Big Lots is?
Richmond, TXLove's Minimax 1953
Uvalde at I-10 EastWynn-Warren Minimax 1967
Wharton, TXSansing & Smith Minimax 1953

35 comments

  1. I think the 6935 W Bellfort Blvd location was actually 6935 Bellfort, not far from Hartman Jr. High. Google maps shows a huge paved area near that location, and I remember a large grocery store at that location in the 60’s. It was a good sized strip center with a Minimax (as I recall). Thanks for maintaining this site. It’s fun to take another stroll down memory lane.

  2. Great fun to read these remembrances . Who remembers Piggly Wiggly on Main @ Dryden or Henkes during WW2 . Madings Drugs in the 50s and 60s? Saturday Fun Club movies at Village Theater?

  3. Here’s another Minimax to add to the location list, but this is one that didn’t last very long. There was a Minimax under the Texas Super Foods banner that opened in 1983 at 10909 Scarsdale Boulevard. Texas Super Foods was the banner Minimax was using for some of their bigger, newer stores such as the one in Texas City. By some point in 1984, the store had already changed hands and was then operating as a Holiday Foods location. I’m not sure how long the Holiday Foods operation lasted, but the location eventually became what it is now, a Hong Kong Food Market.

    All of that information may not seem all that remarkable, but what is really odd is that the Hong Kong Food Market has some very vintage interior decor, at least based on Google Maps images, and some of it might date back to the 1983 Texas Super Foods or, at the very least, the Holiday Foods. You can see the photos of the store on Google Maps: https://goo.gl/maps/fCQBtTrFM4QzG8Hm9

    I remember Randall’s also using aisle markers quite similar to those in the early 1980s. I’m not sure if those aisle markers were used by Texas Super Foods/Holiday Foods or what. It might have been a generic design that was used by various independent grocers at the time, I don’t know.

    You might think that Hong Kong Food Market is odd enough, but the supermarket oddities in that area don’t stop there. The ex-Safeway/AppleTree/Gerland’s across the street that is now a Food Town has Food Lion decor in it! I don’t think Food Lion ever operated out of that spot, but I could be wrong. My best guess is that Food Lion was getting some signage updates done at some of their former locations that really were ex-Food Lions and had the sign makers use that same Food Lion for that ex-Safeway location. That’s just a guess. Link to the Food Town: https://goo.gl/maps/FgW6xWNHuyCJeiae9

    FWIW, the Alief Hong Kong Food Market also has Food Lion-like decor. I can only guess that, like the Food Town above, Hong Kong Food Market had their sign makers make decor similar to what is in their Veterans Memorial location that is in an old Food Lion. Link: https://goo.gl/maps/4khbM3ehntTg6vTFA

    Since these independent Houston grocers are using other grocer’s former decor, maybe some other independent Houston grocer will bring back Kroger’s Bauhaus design since that was really neat. Wait, what?! Someone did…and is using old Kroger Millennium aisle markers as well! Link: https://goo.gl/maps/1xJviTHLtGdLbAVd9

    1. Here’s a little bit more about the Scarsdale Minimax Texas Super Foods. I found a 1983 issue of a South Belt Leader newspaper online which has an ad for the Texas Super Foods. In it, they compare their prices on 200 popular grocery items with that found in Houston Kroger, Safeway, and Eagle stores. This is pretty neat, it does go to show what kind of pricing advantage Kroger had over Safeway on nearly everything on the list. If someone compared 2021 Kroger prices to Randall’s prices, I suspect some of the percentage differences between Kroger and Randall’s (Safeway/Albertsons) might well be similar to what they were in 1983!

      Here’s the link to that ad. It spills over to the next page in the newspaper, but you can easily navigate to the next page from the link: https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth912804/m1/10/

      Here’s another Texas Super Foods ad from a South Belt Leader issue from about a month prior discussing the Grand Opening specials for the store. In this ad, you can quite clearly see that the Minimax logo was associated with the Texas Super Foods banner. https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth912808/m1/10/

      Anyway, I found this to be really neat and I’m sure you and your readers might find it to be neat as well.

      1. I remember in the mid 1970’s there was a small Minimax store on Fuqua (near corner of Beamer Rd) close to Dobie High School
        which is about 5 minutes down the road from the Scarsdale store you talked about

  4. No comments about Weingarten’s? They were a decent sized chain in the Houston area during the Oil Boom times. The company sold off their supermarkets and focused instead on real estate.

  5. minimax at 2603 carthwright was food a rama, before moving to 1603.

    minimax on westheimer @ kirkwood became heb, after sports authority, now sprouts.

    1. Thanks. The Minimax on Westheimer and Kirkwood became a Jumbo food market, prior to becoming an HEB. It was briefly a sporting goods store and is now occupied by a Sprouts.

    2. That location opened up as a Gerlands back in the mid 70’s then changed to Minimax then Foodarama. Foodarama moved down the street to 1603 which used to be a Randalls location back in the 80’s

  6. My Uncle Joe Florian and his brother owned and operated 2 Florian’s Minimax stores in Houston, addresses unknown. I am trying to find out through my cousin and I will repost . Thank you, Mike!

    1. Let me know once you find them, I’ll add them to the list and add a note about your uncle. Glad to stir up some memories!

    2. I’m working on the Houston history section for Groceteria.com right now and I can tell you that in 1959, there were four Florian’s Minimax stores listed in the city directory: 1238 43rd St, 2902 N Shepherd Dr, 1019 Westheimer Rd, and 302 Winkler Dr.

    3. Florian’s Minimax # 2 – 2902 North Shepherd Drive, Houston, Texas 77008
      Florian’s Miniman # 1 – 1238 West 43rd Street, Houston, Texas 77018

  7. There was a Minimax in the Town and Country shopping center in what is now the Memorial area of Houston, zip code 77024, in the early 70’s. My mom shopped there every week. I have very fond memories of going shopping with her there when I wasn’t in school.

    Love your blog!

    1. Minimax is on my list of articles to update. Thank you for your kind words, I’ll keep an eye out for the Town and Country location!

    2. I worked at this minimax from 1973 to 1975 as a bag boy. I remember the managers name was Jimmy Wong, and the owner was Hobart Brown, lots of good times all of my friends work there as well

  8. The Minimax on Cartwright was there until around 92 and changed to Foodarama. Foodarama then moved down Cartwright when Randall’s moved out.

    I like this blog.

  9. We had a Minimax in Edna, Texas (100 miles southwest of Houston on US 59) back in the 60’s-70’s. Sprung’s Minimax, as it was known, was owned and operated by Max Sprung, a local Jewish businessman. My mother shopped there frequently and I once met Don Mahoney and Jeana Clare at Sprung’s Minimax on one of their tours. Cherished memories!

    1. That was my grandfather. I’m a Sprung! my dad grew up in Edna. I did too, at my grandpa Max’s ranch on 822, almost to Yoakum.

  10. Remember those in La Marque and Texas City. Still have one empty and one full Minimax Maxi-Bucks stamp Collectors Certificates

    1. I worked at the one in Texas City that was on Palmer Hwy, and the one that was in LaMarque. I was the Manager when those we’re closed and went out of business. When they decided to shut them down I went from one to the other getting them prepared and getting everything sold off. Including the freezer. So I mover from one Texas Super MiniMax to another till we were all shut down and the ones that they had owned the buildings were sold. I remember starting as a sacker and carrying out paper sacks of groceries out to people’s cars and telling them have a great day thank you for shopping at Texas Super MiniMax please come again. Wow this has brought back some memories. I know the location on Palmer highway is a church and it had a couple other store in it but they didn’t last long. The building sat empty a long time. I’m glad this article was written it has brought back good times reading it. And thanks for remembering those stores Tim. I have often wondered if others remembered them and if they had good memory of them as I do. It was a sad day at each store the day I turned off all the power and walked out each ones doors locking them for the final time and I have to admit it does bring back a tear or two recalling those final days at each if the Texas Super MiniMax and the Texas Super Foods location.

  11. worked at kyles minimax 2555 gessner from 1986-1987 promptly closed about 1 month after the super safe way opened on hammerly and gessner. I was 15 when I started working started at 3.35 was making 4.00 hr when it closed many a good memories from that place

    1. That Safeway was one of the few successful locations. Kroger bought it along with the one at I-10 and Echo Lane. They continue to run the stores to this day, as slightly higher class Krogers.

    2. I read that it was Gerland’s for a while, but it was definitely a grocery store. Never was a huge fan of Hammerly/Gessner’s Kroger. The store was very similar to the former Safeway in Bryan Texas (now gutted for an Aldi and an trampoline park, but served as an independent for many years) in the fact the bakery and deli was in the center of the store, but even worse in the Hammerly/Gessner store, essentially creating two “mini-stores” that were difficult to get to. I liked the Echo Lane/Katy Kroger as it was easy to get to and access when the Bunker Hill H-E-B was packed.

  12. Womack’s Minimax
    On Ahrens Street in Southeast Houston, Oak Meadows/Forest Oaks/Allendale area.

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