Buffalo Modern: The New H-E-B in West U

Two new buildings designed by regional architecture stars Lake/Flato Architects will open in Houston in the next couple of months: Rice University’s new swimming-pool and palm-tree festooned Wellness Center . . . and this sleek new H-E-B on Buffalo Speedway and Bissonnet.

Strangely, the San Antonio architecture firm didn’t get the late-nineties memo that specified an Alamo flavored Mission Revival strip and shopping center style for the inner Westpark corridor, and opted instead for a modern-looking hangar with a reflective butterfly roof, lots of glass, and a bunch of eco-features. Plus, fancy foods:

Buffalo Market will feature a Central Market Cafe on the Run, offering gourmet to-go items; a cheese shop with, for example, 54 varieties of bleu cheese; 2,000 varieties of wine; and a sushi and cooking demo station.

Half of the 68,000-square-foot H-E-B store will be devoted to perishables. Typically, supermarkets give perishables about one-third of the store space, [H-E-B and Central Market President Scott] McClelland said. There will be less general merchandise.

Buffalo Market will be similar to the H-E-B/Central Market hybrid in The Woodlands, only it will be an updated version, he said.

A few more photos sent in by a reader:


H-E-B is now saying it expects the store to open in August.

Photos of H-E-B Buffalo Market, 5225 Bissonnet: Swamplot inbox

43 Comment

  • Ho-hum, another freaking upscale grocery shopping experience. At least it is not a Whole Foods. :-)

  • can’t wait . . . even though it’s a fancy-pants HEB, HEB’s prices for regular food items are so much cheaper than the Kroger across the street!

  • Well it’s not in my neighborhood, so I don’t care how much they charge for food–but I have to say, it sure looks cool!

  • It looks great! HEB is such a quality company.

  • I wish HEB would trash the pantry store at TC Jester and 18th and build a regular sized HEB. It doesn’t even have to be this fancy.

  • kjb – I’ve heard that they would like to, but it would need to be an expansion and they do not have enough parking for it.

  • Houstonre,

    Outside of internal remodels, they can’t do anything with the Pantry location except leave it. The Shopping center along with the one located across the bayou (old K-Mart) are located in the Flooway (not just floodplain). There isn’t much they can do those site. HEB would need an entirely new location.

  • Great to have a company that respects design and hires great architects. If only the losers at Weingarten had a clue.

    I love the Kroger on Buffalo Speedway, it’s light years better than the ones on Montrose or West Gray, especially with customer service, cleanliness, and product variety, and worth the drive pass a half-dozen competitors. Also love the new HEB on I-10 as well as Central Market. Having a new HEB across the street from the best Kroger in town is a win-win as far as I’m concerned. I’ll shop at both.

  • Looks like the Moisant Airport in New Orleans. That was built in the 1950’s or 60’s.

  • “Strangely, the San Antonio architecture firm didn’t get the late-nineties memo that specified an Alamo flavored Mission Revival strip and shopping center style for the inner Westpark corridor…”

    OMG, Gus. LOL!

  • I just had the president of a grocery chain bring me freshly baked ciabatta bread, an assortment of fresh bolillos and a freshly baked and frosted cake…. to my office…. in person. What a great guy.

  • CK — thanks for the torture. Save some for the rest of us, will ya?

  • Will the checkers at H-E-B incessantly ask me for my “foodie card”, like they do at CM?

    Even after I’ve said I’ll never, ever, ever have a “foodie card”, next time around the CM checker will always ask again. Good automaton.

    The other retarded thing the CM checker does is always calls “next guest, please”, for the next space cadet in line who isn’t paying attention. I tell them I’m not a guest, I’m a customer. I’m a patron. Anything but a guest.

  • LOL markd!

    I didn’t think HEB did cards. Don’t they use that as an advertisement against Kroger and Randals?

    I still love my checkout service at Kroger on 11th. I’m really hopping the quality stays there when they double in size. Construction has already started!

  • In response Markd I find the checkers at CM to be extremly helpful, kind and always trying to make sure I was able to get what I needed, so what if they ask about your foodie card, I for one am glad they ask, I get lots of cash back every 3 months with my card. I would shop there anyway, so I like the kickbacks, happy for another HEB, finally inside the loop

  • Markd, the Foodie Card is a serious benefit you need to unclench and look into if you’re going spend serious coin at CM. Not only do you get “foodie bucks” as amy patton says, there are great coupons from them in the mail for freebies worth having, i.e. $10 off anything in seafood, a pound of boneless chicken breasts, etc. Several times a year they just give away stuff with a minimal purchase — I’ve got a nice Wusthof cutting board, a set of paring knives, kitchen scissors, and a set of lucite salt & pepper grinders among other things. Let them call you (and treat you as a) guest — its just not that painful. If you’re grumpy, they’ll call you something else after you leave.

  • I wish Weingarten would replace the Kroger’s on West Gray with an HEB. This Kroger’s has the WORST service and the HIGHEST prices in town–higher even than Whole Foods and Central Market.

  • I wish HEB would put a fine new store on the Yale-Washington-Heights-White Oak Bayou land parcel. That’s what I wish.

  • While we’re on the topic of grocery stores, can someone please tell me how Rice Epicurean stays in business? Bad selection, high prices – yet it still seems to keep on keepin’ on. I don’t get it.

  • Re: Rice Market

    The one on Holcombe always seems to be empty. I like to go there for the meet which seems to be better than most other groceries.

    BTW, it is owned by HEB and does require a Rice “Experience” card to get the special prices. So, HEB is being a little hypocritical when it disses Kroger for doing the same.

  • Rice Epicurean Markets, Inc. is wholly owned by founding family members, not HEB.
    And Central Market does have a foodie card but it is not for instant discounts at the point of purchase, so they are not being hypocritical.

  • Schwaghag, if you thought prices at Kroger’s were too high, wait until you visit a Randalls/Flagship store. :-) When I saw a woman pushing around a *full* shopping cart at a Flagship store, my thought was, “Either she’s rich, or she has no money sense.”

  • When will Trader Joe’s enter the Houston (or even Texas) market? Sadly, we will probably be the 50th state they likely will enter (it is just too competitive here as shown by the comments above), but when they get here, the high end grocery market will be destroyed. So many items are priced 2-3X the TJ price at these stores (CM).

  • well i dont like h-e-butt and they don’t have anything like kroger specialy the one on buffalo speedway they give away free stuff and everything is so clean and they help you out no matter wat so next time you think about shopping at h-e-butt think about it how did they treat you then go to kroger and your goin to get treated 100% much better.

  • markd – I am about to get $50 in Central Market Foodie Cash at the end of this quarter. This year, I’ve earned $75 in foodie cash and we still have two quarters to go. That’s $75 in free groceries! At the end of this year I will probably have received a total of $125 to $175 in foodie cash! I also take advantage of the coupons they send out and their weekly specials to save even more money. Kroger and their stupid card can kiss my arse. I hate that you have to present a card to get the sale price. H-E-B and CM don’t do that. I’m glad they are finally opening a nice H-E-B inside the loop but I will most likely continue to shop at CM because of the foodie card.

  • I live very close to this HEB. We had an awful time at 5 AM everyday during the construction process. SpawGlass is the construction company and they had no control over their subcontractors coming in with heavy equipment at 5 AM. I can understand 8 AM onwards, but 5 in the morning was annoying.
    Also The traffic in front of our houses is going to be a nightmare from now on. Although I like the groceries and the prices in HEB, they should have not had an entry to this store from Bissonnet St. This would have at least shielded the residential part from unnecessary traffic and noise. I guess HEB didn’t think about the residents near by. I am in two minds whether to protest this store and ask my friends to do so too, just because of their insensitivity towards the local residents. We’ll see how the situation develops. Now there are Police personnel posted in the entry from Bissonnet. Usually when they are involved, it means a traffic nightmare (examples: Lakewood Church every Sunday, Buffalo Speedway / US 59 intersection every evening – a nightmare because police personnel control traffic lights and give undue importance to one side traffic).

  • West U Resident,

    Before you fly off the handle to protest something that HEB didn’t do, you should ask yourself if that entrance on Bissonet was already there? There were two long entrances there before. If HEB’s architect/engineers were adding a non-existent driveway, the current city rules would have prevented it.

    HEB is there waiting for their final product (a new building to fill with groceries). HEB isn’t directly involved in the construction process as with almost any commercial retail development.

    Also, traffic is already pretty horrendous during rush hour times anyway, and it seem HEB is going pretty much for the same customers that Kroger and the Walgreens across the street are going for.

  • Isn’t it a little too late to protest, since the store is already open. Also, Bissonett is basically a major road, not some side road. You should have thought about it before buying a house on a major road.

  • Kjb and angeli: The store opened today. Do you even know what a total mess the traffic was? The cops who were supposedly “directing” traffic made such a mess of it. The minute they left, the traffic flowed so smoothly. Tax payer dollars were wasted to provide privileged service to HEB customers. My tax dollars which pay the salaries of these officers.
    Kjb: You obviously have no clue of building codes and ordinances. HEB is not directly involved, but they are responsible for their contractors’ conduct. It is possible to plat new driveways in the city of Houston – so you can tone it down. I know exactly what I am talking about.BTW, the noise ordinance in the city of Houston only allows noise after 8 AM.
    Angeli : This nuisance and unduly heavy traffic today is due to the mismanagement of the Sheriff’s deputies who were “directing” traffic. HEB should immediately stop wasting our tax payer dollars to hire these officers. So if you are familiar with this area, you will know that traffic is only for a couple of hours each day. Otherwise this area provides a suburban style living inside the city. West U is a very good community and I hate the fact the HEB is so insensitive to the residents who eventually will support this store.
    I will definitely not shop in this store.

  • You still don’t make any sense that HEB is insensitive to the area residents.

    Just because the site they chose had a commercial retail/restaurant establishment that barely anybody went too and now there is one that they want to go to, they’re insensitive?

    The potential for heavy traffic was already there. If the existing establishments that HEB replaced grew very popular over time and worsened traffic, would they be just as insensitive for already existing?

  • From City of Houston’s Code of Ordinances:
    Chapter 30, Sec 30-9 (Defenses) (e) “The sound was produced by the erection, excavation, construction, or demolition of any building or structure, including the use of any necessary tools or equipment, conducted between the hours of 7:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m., which activity did not produce a sound exceeding 85 dB(A) when measured from the property line of the residential property where the sound is being received.” Basically, they are allowed to make noise between 7:00 am and 8:00 pm. Note that there is no mention of DELIVERY of equipment. I don’t know the rules regarding what hours heavy equipment can be on the road, but according to my husband they are out there. (he’s in the construction business) So apparently there are instances when equipment has to be delivered early in the morning. Maybe to avoid traffic issues?
    Anywho, if you don’t like noise associated with living in the city I suggest you either: A) Buy some earplugs or B) Move to the country where growth is slow and the only noise you’ll hear are your neighbor’s chickens and cows. Oh, and good luck protesting H-E-B. They are going to dominate.

  • kheatherg,

    another point to add is that the noise ordinance is void performing the project outside of the time limits is more beneficial to the community. Also, many actions are not encompassed by the noise ordinance (which is common in many cities).

    Road construction on busy roads (especially TxDOT roads) will always occur in overnight hours if possible for busy roads to speed the project up and avoid traffic.

    Westheimer asphalt overlays always occur late at night to avoid traffic. This goes for the segments inside and outside the loop.

  • Isn’t it a little too late to protest, since the store is already open. Also, Bissonett is basically a major road, not some side road. You should have thought about it before buying a house on a major road.

    Not according to the residents in Southampton and Boulevard Oaks. It’s just a quiet little two-lane street.

  • So for God’s sake don’t shop there and quit whining about it. In fact, go live your life inside of West U’s boundaries
    and lower your blood pressure.

    It is no surprise that ANY rent-a-cop never pays attention to the timing sequence of the lights. It is hardly an HEB conspiracy to ruin your day. Have you ever driven anywhere in Houston where this is not an issue?

    So if you live in West U and the store is in Houston, how are you paying taxes? Either HEB is footing the bill or the City of Houston taxpayers are. And how is the noise affecting you unless you live directly across Bissonnet in one of the townhomes? And if you do, that’s your problem for choosing to live on a thoroughfare. I guess the needs of 10 townhome residents outweighs the benefit to an an entire community.

  • West U resident: see above

  • Matt,

    Bissonet is a 4 lane boulevard identified as a major thoroughfare by the City of Houston Planning Commission, not like the section near the museum district.

  • I stand corrected about the noise ordinance being from 7 AM. The noise that was produced was not delivery of the equipment or trucks pulling in. It was the concrete hammer removing the existing concrete to install a new driveway.
    Even if I live in West U I still pay taxes to Harris county which in turn pays the salaries of the Sheriff’s dept. So yes, it is my tax dollars being spent to muck up traffic. I also confirmed that HEB is not paying nor did they initiate the request for traffic control. It was West U city that requested this.
    Living in a big city does come with noise. I have lived in a big city all my life, so I am aware of the noise levels. Also I reserve the right to protest against excessive noise even if I am the lone voice. Just because others do it, doesn’t make it right. For those advising me to move, have you ever stood up for a principle? It is the principle that matters. Take a look at others who have posted here and in the blog about the opening in this website. You will see that others are bothered by the unnecessary traffic jam caused by the Sheriff’s deputies. Right now I am working on having them removed so that Traffic can return to normal.
    kheatherg: thanks for clarification of the noise ordinance – I checked too and 7 AM on weekdays.
    Before posting a reply to this comment, Please become familiar with the scenario, all the relevant ordinances and then reply. Let me repeat my points of contention so that everyone who reads this is clear about why I am protesting
    1. Actual construction (pounding of the concrete hammers and removal of concrete) was the noise problem, not the increased traffic nor the truck deliveries.
    2. Sheriff’s deputies mucked up traffic thus causing huge traffic jams. Again Bissonnet and Buffalo Speedway can handle the increased traffic for sure.
    3. The onus was on HEB to have thought about these points and thus I wanted them to take action (which by the way they promised to take immediately and for future stores – in limiting the adverse effect on the community).

    So point #3 is already taken care of. From what I am given to understand, HEB will take a look at how their store openings (not the ongoing running of the store- just the opening) will affect the surrounding areas and how they can lessen the impact on traffic.

    So anyone wishing to post a reply please be familiar with the issues before asking me to move or quit whining or get ear plugs or making some such off hand remarks.

  • West U Resident: “SpawGlass is the construction company and they had no control over their subcontractors coming in with heavy equipment at 5 AM.”
    You were not clear in your first comment about the source of the noise. Jackhammering before 7 am would piss me off too and I would most definitely complain to someone about it. However, I don’t think your reasons to protest H-E-B are valid. It is SpawGlass and their subcontractor’s obligation to follow code. How is that H-E-B’s fault? And the traffic thing? Well, that’s just another part of city life that you will have to accept. That happens every time something new comes around with a bunch of hype. It happened in San Antonio when they opened the first Krispy Kreme there. People went crazy and traffic was horrendous. I’m sure the hype will die down and traffic will die down along with it. I was serious about the earplugs. I use them and get much better sleep now. You should really try it. Maybe you wouldn’t be so cranky after you get a good night of sleep. ;)

  • Bissonet is a 4 lane boulevard identified as a major thoroughfare by the City of Houston Planning Commission, not like the section near the museum district.

    There are two Bissonnets?

  • West U Resident:

    Oh wow, you and your neighbors pay an average of $700 yearly to Harris County so
    that $1.91 you paid ($700 divided by 365)really makes you a heavyweight. God onlyknows what portion of that goes to the Sheriff’s office.

    So the City of West U requested the sheriff’s bozos. So shouldn’t you be all up in the West U city manager’s grizizzle?

    Your townhouse is all of what? 10 feet from a divided thoroughfare that even in 1970 when those places were built was a busy commercial street.

    Again, shop at Kroger, Randall’s, Rice or Sunny Food Store. I’m sure the folks at HEB think you are just some old bag/curmudgeon who’d complain about a bruise on your peach and demand a discount.

  • I’m sure the folks at HEB think you are just some old bag/curmudgeon who’d complain about a bruise on your peach and demand a discount.

    Which is probably better than what most think you are at the moment.

    I would imagine when she and the others bought their townhomes they didn’t visualize another Galleria being developed across the street from them.

    I thought Bill White was so adamant about traffic impact in our city – it seems he is only adamant about it when partners at Vinson & Elkins complain about it.

    Good neighbors are good neighbors. And it sounds like HEB in this case is not a good neighbor.

  • JT, you’re being rude.

  • Hi, I also live in West U right next to the new HEB and never had any problem with construction noise. Even the traffic on the opening day of the store only caused me about a 5 minute delay to get home (the entrance to my house is off Bissonnet as well) which I thought was awesome for Houston! Ive even shopped at the new HEB and loved my experience. I used to shop at the Kroger across the street but the prices were always so high. It has been made clear to me that the ONLY time Kroger really cares about customers is when they have to (ie competition in the neighborhood). I shopped at that Kroger at least once a week for over a year and never found the employees or the selection something to be excited about. Its only in the last couple of weeks (right before HEB opened) that the employees started being overly helpful and the selection/prices have improved. Personally, I wont give my loyalty to a grocery store (Kroger) who only cares about my business if they have to. I love the new HEB and will continue to shop there!