Safeway

Safeway has roots in Texas from as far back as the 1928. With their purchase of the NewWay chain operating in El Paso. Coming West from California, they would continue to move East after buying the Bird grocery store chain the same year. This gave them access to Dallas and the surrounding area. Over the next few decades, Safeway would continue to grow throughout the United States, and internationally. However, growth in Texas was quite limited. By the 1950s the service area of Safeway in Texas had grown South of the original DFW footprint serving small towns throughout Central Texas. By March 1955 Safeway announced their intent to enter the Houston market with 10 brand-new stores. The ambitious new plans included not only the 10 new stores, but the promise of more if these did well. The stores would also receive a 70 acre distribution center/plant to allow for a self-sustaining division. While Safeway was developing an ambitious new plan for expansion into Houston, local competitors in DFW, Texoma, and West Texas all joined together to accuse Safeway of price fixing and unfair competition. The accusation was serious enough to cause Safeway to “postpone” development endeavors in Houston by August 1955. By this point, locations had already been scouted, and options purchased on certain lots. The price had also ballooned from $6 Million to over $10 Million.

The Lake Jackson location in 2021, the Food and Drugs signs are likely original from Safeway, although they would have been red.

Burned by not completely spurred, Safeway would remain just outside the Houston area in the 1950s, opening stores in and around Austin, getting as close as to Houston as Bryan/College Station. In late 1968 Safeway would return to town and quietly began completing land transactions. While I can’t confirm it exactly, it seems that some of the first lots purchased in the 60s may have been ones Safeway was considering in the 1950s. By March 1969 the Chronicle finally uncovered Safeways secret land deals, and published that the company had purchased 4 sites with intentions to open 6 six stores. The manager of the Dallas Division, of which Houston was to start of as part of, confirmed one location Belfort and Telephone Road, and mentioned that it would open within a year. Despite the tight-lipped exterior, Safeway quickly began dropping information about which plots of land they had purchased. It seems that this transperancy would come back to bite Safeway at least once when multiple residents protested a planned store in the 10200 Memorial Drive area, causing Safeway to drop the planned store. In another bit of bad publicity, Safeway offered to donate about $5,500 to the City of Houston to complete storm drains around their planned store on Dairy Ashford. City Council members responded by essentially accusing Safeway of attempting to bribe and strong arm their way into getting things done.

Despite these early missteps Safeway had a relatively easy time expanding throughout Houston in the 1970s. By October 1970, Peter Magowan was named as the first Houston District Manager. Mr. Magowan would stay in the Houston District of the Dallas Division for three years, during this time the chain would grow to ~25 stores in the Houston area, some existing older stores, including those in Austin, were added to Houston brining the total count of stores closer to 50. By 1974 Mr. Magowan would leave the Houston Division, and continue climbing the corporate ranks of Safeway until being named CEO in 1979, but we’ll get to that later. The early years of the Houston District were somewhat unremarkable, with slow but steady growth mostly fueled by Kroger’s “entrance” into the Houston market, after finally dropping the Henke’s banner. By the mid 70s Safeway’s Houston district, had a store count of around 40-50 which warranted spinning the district off into its own division. Later reports, would say that during this time period Safeway corporate was focused on growth, and likely with support from Magowan, more money and construction than was realistic was put into the new division. Most sources cite Safeway’s Houston distribution center as being able to serve around 300 stores very comfortably.  This is also supported by the fact that the milk and bread plants built during this time produced enough excess that they helped to supply other divisions.

The Old Galveston Road location was one of the first, and was a Foodarama until 2021

By the 1980s, Safeway was up to around 50-60 stores in the Houston division, while not the largest chain in the area coming in third behind, Kroger, and Weingarten respectively, Safeway was able to grab more market share than Weingarten, and maintain a close second to Kroger. Most of this boiled down to Safeway’s size and ability to supply groceries somewhat cheaper compared to regional chains, a reality that the Weingarten family had come to accept when they sold their grocery stores to Grand Union in 1980. By late 1983 Grand Union had also become uninterested in running Weingartens and began seeking a buyer, Safeway was seen as an obvious choice, but was in true fashion completely tight-lipped about what they were doing. In January 1984 the Houston Chronicle reported that 46 Weingarten stores were to be sold to Safeway, along with their frozen food warehouse. Although 3 stores could not be sold due to lease agreements, and would continue to be operated by Grand Union until these agreements expired. With a combined store count of 69 in the Houston area by 1984, Safeway had undeniably become one of Houston’s biggest grocers.

Throughout 1985 and 1986 Safeway would continue to add stores, along with remodel and expanding their smaller 25k square foot store, to “Superstore” standards, or at least as close as they could get. Unfortunately, one side effect of the expansions and updates, which were going on all over the company at the time, was a lack of cash flow, which leads to a reentry of Peter Magowan. In 1986 the Dart Group announced their intent to force a hostile takeover of Safeway. The intent of the Dart Group was likely to liquidate the company, getting more than their investment back. Safeway would be forced to accept a white knight bid by KKR to prevent this from happening. Part of the deal would include giving KKR some financial control and requirements over what Safeway could do with their money. In 1987 Safeway quickly began shedding divisions to desperately try and generate cash.  These sell offs would eventually result in the 1988 buyout of the Houston division, which would lead to the creation of AppleTree Markets. This decision along with shutting down the DFW, El Paso, and Texoma divisions of Safeway were likely influenced by Peter Magowan’s experience and knowledge of the chain in Texas. While big goals had been set, they weren’t able to realized, with Safeway generally coming in 2nd or 3rd. These big goals, dreams and aspirations would all find a new home under AppleTree, and it nearly worked, but that’s in another article.

Identifying Old Safeways

Location List

Store No.
Address
Notes
#2716825 Burnet Rd Austin, TX 787571965-1989 Opened as part of Dallas Division, Closed as a Safeway (by AppleTree), Currently a Mazda Dealership
#5111006 North St, Nacogdoches, TX 759611961-1976 Opened as part of Dallas Division, Subdivided Shopping Center
#541301 S. Chestnut, Lufkin TX 759011961-1989 Opened as part of Dallas Division, AppleTree, Currently Brookshire Bros
#5421424 North St Nacogdoches, TX 759611976-1989 AppleTree, Subdivided Mostly CVS
#7011919 E Riverside Dr Austin, TX 787411970-1989 Closed as a Safeway (by AppleTree), Currently a Bingo Parlor
#7031500 W 35th St Austin, TX 787031971-1989 AppleTree Currently Randalls
#7069316 N Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX 787531972-1979 Still standing, Subdivided
#707222 W Hopkins St, San Marcos, TX 786661972-1984 HEB
#7088040 Mesa Dr Austin, TX 787311973-1989 AppleTree Currently Randalls
#711715 Exposition Blvd Austin, TX 787031977-1989 AppleTree Recently Closed Randalls 2020
#7125335 Airport Blvd Austin, TX 787511961-1994 AppleTree Demo'd 2011
#7141725 S Texas Ave, College Station, TX 778401976-1989 AppleTree Split between OfficeMax and Spec's
#715902 N Austin Ave Georgetown, TX 786261974-1989 AppleTree Subdivided
#716804 W Braker Ln Austin, TX 787581974-1989 AppleTree Northern Tool and Equipment
#7192101 S Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX 787041965-1994 Opened as part of Dallas Division, Subdivided CVS and Office Depot
#7216920 Menchaca Rd Austin, TX 787451977-1986 AppleTree, Now a Sprouts
#7232025 W Ben White Blvd Austin, TX 787451966-1989 Opened as part of Dallas Division, AppleTree, Currently Randalls
#7249411 N Lamar Blvd Austin, TX 787531979-1989 AppleTree, Likely sold to HEB
#7263116 N Main St, Taylor, TX 765741980-1989 AppleTree Exact Address listed as "Mallard Lane"
#7281112 N Interstate Hwy 35 Round Rock, TX 786811980-1989 AppleTree Now Mr. Gatti's
#729601 E William Cannon Dr Austin, TX 787451980-1989 AppleTree Now Melrose
#7303229 Bee Cave Rd Austin, TX 787461981-1989 AppleTree, Currently Randalls
#7312222 S Market St Brenham, TX 778331982-1989 AppleTree, Currently Vacant
#73211150 Research Blvd Austin, TX 787591981-1989 Closed During Bankruptcy, Subdivided Party City and Petsmart
#733200 W Hopkins St San Marcos, TX 786661984-1989 AppleTree, Currently HEB
#7356800 Berkman Dr, Austin, TX 787231984-1989 AppleTree, Currently El Rancho Was Randalls prior to 2011
#7362001 E State Hwy 21 Bryan, TX 778031986-1989 AppleTree, Subdivided by La Michocana
#74513945 U.S. 183 Hwy, Austin, TX 787171985-1989 AppleTree, Currently Randalls
#90014540 Memorial Dr Houston, TX 770791970-1986 Drug Emporium: March 29, 1989-1999 HEB Pantry Foods: 1999-2018 Now HEB Delivery Hub
#9012127 Southmore Ave Pasadena, TX 775061970-1989 AppleTree 1989- Now Value Village Largely Untouched Store expanded in 1972 (Not a 24/7 Store)
#9037645 Dashwood Dr Houston, TX 770361970-1987 AppleTree, Essentially untouched building Originally 7654
#9043745 Westheimer Rd, Houston, TX 770271970-1989 AppleTree, Rice Epicurean, Now subdivided as Walgreens
#90510140 Hammerly Blvd Houston, TX 770801970-1987 Replaced by 2300 Gessner
#90716550 El Camino Real Houston, TX 770621971-1984 Demolished ~2000 for new Kroger
#908918 21st St N Texas City, TX 775901972-1984 Subdivided
#91014085 S Main St Houston, TX 770851970-1983 Drugs For Less: 1983-1987
#9115232 Aldine Mail Rte Rd Houston, TX 770391973-1989 First Budget Store closed prior to AppleTree, now subdivided mostly Food City, Originally 5230
#9125373 Antoine Dr Houston, TX 770911972-1986 Food Town Originally 5367
#91411600 Hughes Rd Houston, TX 770891971-1981 Drugs for Less: October 9, 1983-1987 Sagemont Church: 1988-Present (Not a 24/7 Store)
#91511340 Chimney Rock Rd Houston, TX 770351984-1987 Weingarten
#9156025 Chimney Rock Rd Houston, TX 770811972-1984 Now a charter school (Not a 24/7 Store)
#9171805 Ella Blvd Houston, TX 770081971-1989 AppleTree
#9188935 N Shepherd Dr Houston, TX 770881971-1983 Later "Drugs for Less" in 1983 (may or may not have been related to a fatal shooting/robbery in the parking lot). Eventually part of Archer Motors. Later demolished for Más Club in 2008. Más Club closed in 2014.
#9199607 Fondren Rd, Houston, TX 770961972-1984 Demolished for Albertsons now Food Town
#9202215 FM 1960 Rd W Houston, TX 77090 1971-1983 Subdivided Dollar Tree Mostly Now 2217 FM 1960
#921901 S Richey St Pasadena, TX 775061972-1987 AppleTree, Food Town
#92211006 Airline Dr Houston, TX 770371973-1989 AppleTree, Now Fiesta
#9241414 Wirt Rd Houston, TX 770551973-1984 Price Buster Foods in 1991. Now Trini Mendenhall Community Center
#926105 W Edgewood Dr Friendswood, TX 775461973-1984 Later Winn's Variety Store and Crafts, etc, now Subdivided Ace and O'Reilly's
#92811502 Wilcrest Dr Houston, TX 770991973-1987 Foodarama 1988-Present
#9291700 11th St, Huntsville, TX 773401973-1982 Demolished for new HEB
#93011214 Beechnut St Houston, TX 770721974-1982 Drugs for Less: Now El Ahorro Since 2018
#9319525 Westheimer Rd Houston, TX 770631974-1982 Subdivided between Aldi and Party City
#9324614 NASA Road 1 Seabrook, TX 775861973-1986
#9332020 Fountain View Dr Houston, TX 770571974-1989, AppleTree, Now final Rice Epicurean
#9349325 Katy Fwy Houston, TX 770241974-1989 AppleTree Originally 9305
#93610525 Edgebrook, Houston, TX 770341974-1984
#9384805 Galveston Rd Houston, TX 770171974-1989: Safeway Budget Store AppleTree, Foodarama demolished 2021 Original 4729
#9391116 E Mulberry St, Angleton, TX 775151975-1989 AppleTree
#9401415 Wilcrest Dr Houston, TX 770421974-1984 David's Supermarket, Now Foodtown, Originally 1455 Wilcrest
#9426013 Stewart Rd Galveston, TX 775511976-1987 Later H-E-B Pantry Foods, Now a Charter School
#9431100 W Dallas St Conroe, TX 773011989 AppleTree 1986
#9462617 W Holcombe Blvd Houston, TX 770251989 Total Wine former Rice Epicurean and AppleTree
#9474230 Decker Dr Baytown, TX 775201977-1989
#948115 E Boling Hwy Wharton, TX 774881976-1989
#949165 Oyster Creek Dr Lake Jackson, TX 775661976-1994 AppleTree Food King Arlan's Market
#95028522 FM 149, Tomball, TX 773751977-1987 Demolished by HEB who first built a Pantry store next to it. HEB still uses original sign! Now 28520 Tomball Pkwy
#9513316 Avenue H Rosenberg, TX 774711976-1989 AppleTree, Mostly Walgreens
#95212638 Bissonnet St Houston, TX 770991977-1989 AppleTree
#9546742 Hillcroft St Houston, TX 770811977-1989. Now FAMSA Furniture, AppleTree, Originally 6710 Hillcroft
#9555106 Hallettsville Hwy, Victoria, TX 779041977-1985 Now Office Depot; Base of Sign still standing
#9568710 Bellaire Blvd Houston, TX 770361977-1989 AppleTree
#9579510 N Houston Rosslyn Rd Houston, TX 770881977-1989 AppleTree, Now an Industrial Facility
#9587310 Louetta Rd Spring, TX 773791977-1987 Rebuilt HEB
#9594100 Fairmont Pkwy, Pasadena, TX 775041977-1989, AppleTree, Now 99 Cents Store
#9605 Uvalde Rd Houston, TX 77015Safeway: -1989 AppleTree: 1989-May 1992 Gerlands: Food Town:
#9613601 Center St Deer Park, TX 775361978-1987 HEB Closed Recently, Video department used as Craig's Video Outlet
#9624124 7th St Bay City, TX 77414Safeway:1978-1987 AppleTree:1987-June, 1992 Present: Ace Hardware Now 4127 7th St
#963329 Calhoun Plaza, Port Lavaca, TX 779791978-1987 Now Uncle Mike's Rent to Own maybe an HEB? Possibly AppleTree
#96413642 W Montgomery Houston, TX 77086January 28, 1979-1989 Now AppleTree TX-249
#96629799 Loop 494, Houston, TX 77339Leased Office Space, Insperity Center II Now 29800 Loop 494
#968130 Sawdust Rd Spring, TX 77380Opened April 1980, Closed June 13, 1987. Reopened as H-E-B Pantry Foods in 1992, which was later torn down for a full-size store.
#96913811 Cypress N Houston Rd, Cypress, TX 774291989 Food Town AppleTree
#9701700 Jefferson Dr Port Arthur, TX 77642Building largely untouched
#9728801 9th Ave Port Arthur, TX 77642Christus Health Building
#9735960 TX-105 Beaumont, TX 77708Green Banners Now Market Basket
#975401 N 16th St, Orange, TX 776301982-1986?
#977185 N Main St, Vidor, TX 77662-1986 Now a Mini-Storage and Event Center
#9802028 N Main St Pearland, TX 775811989 AppleTree 1986
#981100 Gulf Fwy N League City, TX 77573Sign still intact used for Dollar Tree, Did not become AppleTree?
#98220051 Katy Fwy Katy, TX 77450Conn's Home Plus, Sign still in place
#9834705 Hwy 6 Houston, TX 77084Thrift Store AppleTree 1984
#9843004 FM 1960 E Houston, TX 77073July 27th 1980-1986 Gold's Gym Now 3040 FM 1960
#98514900 Northwest Fwy Houston, TX 77040Became AppleTree in 1989. Later sold to Kroger (1994-2005). K1 Speed Indoor Track Racing opened in 2012.
#9882192 FM 2234, Missouri City, TX 77459-May 1987 King Dollar
#9897510 W Bellfort Blvd Houston, TX 77096Safeway: May 7, 1970-1989 1989:AppleTree Fiesta; The First Safeway in Houston
#99017503 Imperial Valley Dr Houston, TX 77060Citi Trends' back end subdivided AppleTree 1984
#991101 Brazosport Blvd N, Clute, TX 77531Safeway: 1982-June 13, 1987 has been abandoned for many years
#9931990 Old Spanish Trail Houston, TX 770541989 Medical Center Kroger Closed Recently AppleTree
#994100 Truly PLZ Cleveland, TX 77327Safeway: June, 1983-June 13, 1987 Now a small HEB
#99613201 Bellaire Blvd, Houston, TX 77083Safeway: 1982-1984 Likely closed for a Weingartens?
#9982601 11th St, Huntsville, TX 77340Kubicek-bought AppleTree store. Records suggest the changeover happened in early 1997.
#10003210 FM 528 Rd Friendswood, TX 775461983-1987
#100110902 Scarsdale Blvd Houston, TX 77089Safeway: 1983-June 13, 1987 & September 30th, 1988-1989 AppleTree: 1989-199 Gerlands converted to Food Town
#10037068 FM 1960 Humble, TX 773461989 AppleTree 1986
#10041125 S Wheeler St, Jasper, TX 759511983-1983? Brookshire Bros
#10051509 W Church St Livingston, TX 7735August 20, 1983-1989 AppleTree Market: September 20, 1989-
#1006106 N John Redditt Dr, Lufkin, TX 759041984-1986?
#10071305 Tenaha St, Center, TX 759351984-1986?
#10081035 E Loop 304, Crockett, TX 758351984-1985 HEB
#10091051 Eldridge Rd, Sugar Land, TX 774781984-1989 AppleTree Later Food Fair and Gerlands Now 1049 Eldridge
#101121155 Tomball Pkwy, Houston, TX 770701985-1987
#10129371 Richmond Ave Houston, TX 77063Safeway 1986-1987 AppleTree: 1987-1996
#10145377 W Richey Rd, Houston, TX 770661986-1987
#105815540 Farm to Market Rd 529, Houston, TX 77095February 8, 1987-June 13, 1987 Closed after only a few months. Now 24 HR Fitness and Monkey Joe's
#110121155 Tomball Pkwy Houston, TX 770701989 AppleTree
#11021938 W Gray St Houston, TX 77019January 21, 1984-1989 Weingarten AppleTree
#1103239 W 20th St Houston, TX 77008January 21, 1984-1989 Weingarten AppleTree
#11043520 Spencer Hwy Pasadena, TX 77504Weingarten January 21, 1984
#11058620 Stella Link Rd Houston, TX 77025January 21, 1984-1989 Weingarten AppleTree
#11067840 Long Point Rd Houston, TX 77055Weingarten January 21, 1984
#11071352 W 43rd St Houston, TX 77018January 21, 1984-1989 Weingarten AppleTree Kroger
#11084000 Bissonnet St, Houston, TX 77005Weingarten: -1984 Purchased but closed? Montclair Plaza
#11092220 Calder Ave, Beaumont, TX 77701Weingarten: -1984 Safeway: 1984-1987
#1110915 6th St N Texas City, TX 77590Weingarten Safeway: January 21, 1984-1989; AppleTree:1989-May 1992; Food King June 1992-Present Looks untouched!
#11111019 S College Ave, Bryan, TX 77803Weingarten: -1984: Safeway: 1984-1987
#11132409 Bay Area Blvd Houston, TX 77058January 21, 1984-June 1987 Weingarten AppleTree
#1114200 Gulfgate Mall, Houston, TX 77087Weingarten: -1984 Closed before converting?
#11155130 Bellaire Blvd Bellaire, TX 77401Weingarten January 21, 1984-1989 AppleTree
#11162763 Red Bluff Rd Pasadena, TX 77506Weingarten January 21, 1984
#11172501 S Post Oak Ln, Houston, TX 77056Weingarten: -1984 Purchased but closed? Aaron what was the name of this shopping center?
#111811302 Chimney Rock Rd, Houston, TX 770351984-1987 Former Weingarten, Westbury Square
#11193803 Dunlavy St Houston, TX 770061984-1989 Former Weingarten, AppleTree
#11207061 Lawndale St Houston, TX 770231984-1989 Former Weingarten, AppleTree
#11214425 W Fuqua St Houston, TX 770451984-1986 Former Weingarten
#1122701 E Davis St Conroe, TX 773011984-1987 Former Weingarten
#11231175 Edgebrook Dr Houston, TX 770341984-1989 Former Weingarten, AppleTree
#112411041 Westheimer Rd Houston, TX 770421984-1986 Former Weingarten
#112511240 Fondren Rd Houston, TX 770711984-1989 Former Weingarten, AppleTree
#11267601 Westheimer Rd Houston, TX 770631984-1989 Former Weingarten, AppleTree
#1128435 Uvalde Rd, Houston, TX 770151984-1989 Former Weingarten, AppleTree Budget Store
#11292415 Avenue P Galveston, TX 775501984-1986 Former Weingarten
#1130939 Nederland Ave, Nederland, TX 776271984-1986 Former Weingarten
#1136676 FM 517 W, Dickinson, TX 775391984-1985 Former Weingarten
#1137126 Braeswood Square Houston, TX 770961984-1986 Former Weingarten
#1138140 North Alexander Dr Baytown, TX 775201970-1984 "Moved" during Weingarten buyout
#1138-21811 N Alexander Dr Baytown, TX 775201984-1986 Former Weingarten
#11396450 Phelan Blvd, Beaumont, TX 777061984-1989 Former Weingarten, AppleTree, Now Market Basket
#114019633 Eastex Freeway Humble, TX 773381984-1986 Former Weingarten
#11418066 S Gessner Dr Houston, TX 770361984-1986 Former Weingarten
#11421050 Federal Rd Houston, TX 770151984-1989 Former Weingarten, AppleTree, Now Seller Bros
#11439701 Spencer Hwy La Porte, TX 775711984-1989 Former Weingarten, AppleTree
#114410717 Jones Rd Houston, TX 770651984-1986 Former Weingarten
#114515152 Bellaire Blvd Houston, TX 770831984-1989 Former Weingarten, AppleTree

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