Heights Kroger: Okay, Now We’re Really Big

It was only closed for a few evenings during construction, but the Merchants Park Kroger at 11th and North Shepherd in the Heights is marking today as its grand re-opening. Work on the project began 13 months ago. A new section of the store, which was expanded by 39,184 sq. ft., opened last October. Today, all the expansions and renovations on the 24-hour market are complete. Total tally: 88,988 sq. ft.

What’s new? A Starbucks with free wi-fi; a “Kitchen Place” featuring small appliances, cookware, and dinnerware; and the now-de-rigueur drive-thru pharmacy. Plus: an “open-air” seafood market, an order-on-the-computer deli kiosk, a “Cheese Shoppe” with more than 300 cheeses, and an Artisan Bread gallery that features store-made tortillas in your five favorite flavors: white, wheat, butter, salsa and cinnamon sugar.

There’s more:


Kroger officials say they anticipate the Heights location “becoming one of our top performing stores” in the area. The store has a huge wine department, a build-your-own six pack beer section, and more than 75 varieties of ready-to-eat packaged salads.

The old gas station on the corner in front of the store was replaced by a Kroger station last August.

Photo: Candace Garcia

77 Comment

  • I love the new Kroger. We really needed this in the area!

  • They’re trying to get into the Central Market/Whole Foods niche, and getting it about half right. Which is still not bad.

  • The pre-renovation store was disgusting and had been for a very long time, so I (and almost everyone else in the area) was very excited about the “new” store. Hate to say that I’m very disappointed. It looks great, but the service still sucks. The management is deplorable. Many of the checkers and sackers are much more interested in gossiping with each other than doing their jobs. You can still go there on a busy Friday night and find only 3 check-out lanes open; and the managers just standing around oblivious. I’ve seen staffers yelling at each other, and a manager reprimanding a staffer right on the floor. It’s sad.
    I don’t get it. The Kroger on Buffalo Speedway is operated as if it were a completely different company. It is always spotless; the staff is professional, courteous, and very helpful. When managers are on the floor, they are always actively providing customer service; checking, sacking, sorting, “asking” if you need anything. They never “run out” of paper bags with handles. They never run out of anything. That Kroger operates so well, it’s a thing of beauty.
    I know everyone is excited that the Shepherd store is light years better, but why is it still substandard? Why can’t Kroger establish the same high service standards at all of its stores, especially “new” ones?

  • I guess that it is nice to have a newly renovated store, but I still don’t feel safe in that area. I like the availability of the Kroger gas station, but there’s one at San Felipe and Voss (or thereabouts), and the Kroger on West Gray is (relatively) easy to get in and get out of.

    Hopefully Kroger gets its money’s worth out of the renovation, but I just don’t see it happening.

  • Ghetto Kroger is now Ed Hardy Kroger.

  • I agree with John. My family had high hopes for the new Kroger, but it is still unmanageable, and the produce is awful. It’s actually more convenient to go to Spec’s Midtown or Central Market for my fancy-cheese fix.

    For weekly shopping we’re sticking with the HEB Pantry on 18th – better quality (and often Texas-grown) fruits and vegetables, personable (if eclectic) staff, easy parking, and an adequate selection of groceries.

  • I don’t know what people are talking about the service not being good. The service there was good before and still is. Maybe it’s something with the customer. The staff talks to each other and the customers.

    The store is packed with customers and the selection is great.

    What I like most is that it has everything Central Market and Whole Foods has without the blatant “we are better than you attitude.”

    Also, I heard from business owners in the 20th street/Yale area that the old Kroger there will be expanded also and go under a complete remodel. The Walgreens has to open their new store across the street to move out of there current location to expand that Kroger.

  • As much as I like the look and selection at the new store, I have to agree with John, the service still sucks. There are never even a fraction of the lanes needed open, and I hate being forced to use self checkout later at night – I prefer to do shopping then and not exactly practical for major shopping if that is the only checkout option. The little Kroger at Yale & 20th may not have the selection, but I can get in and out of there in less than half the time and the service is a hundred times better. I go to the new Kroger occasionally for certain items but it won’t get my business consistently until it can get it’s customer service up to par.

  • All Krogers are not the same – West U and Meyer Park, although I haven’t been to Meyer Park in some time, seem to be the best.

    Disco Kroger for instance apparently marks down so much meat that it doubles the regular price so it appears to be “half-price” when it’s marked down which makes me wonder how many fools buy it before it’s marked down.

    River Oaks Kroger has too much attitude. They should have put it in Southampton.

    As for Ghetto Kroger as some call it I went there once on the way home from somewhere. Jacqueline Susann was wrong. Sometimes once is enough.

  • Ginormous, yes. Better than before, only slightly. The bakery and discount gas are good, the international and natural foods sections are improved, but otherwise, eh. You would expect that a store this huge would have a better selection of coffee (Duncan’s Buffalo Grill coffee, please…), the deli sucks (what, no Proscuitto di Parma?), and the produce, seafood and meat departments are just bigger versions of what was there before, without any real improvement in selection or quality. And like before, the same inept management (why is it that they can’t be bothered to remove trash from the shopping carts…)

    Personally, I still like HEB and even the nasty little Fiesta on Studewood, more. However, I do hope that Kroger figures out how to make this store live up to its potential.

  • What I most hate about this store is the fact that everything “organic” or “natural” is placed in a separate area of the store. This is especially annoying due to the size of the place. Is it really necessary for the organic yogurt to be in a different time zone from the regular yogurt?

  • Wish they’d expand the Oak Forest Kroger at 43rd & Ella. They remodeled about 5-6 years ago but just sort of rearranged the ailes. The produce, meat/seafood, and wine selections are all woeful and like something from the last millenium. They also have the “health food” cordoned off in an out of the way little corner of the store, I think so all of us “health nuts” can buy our wierdo hippie Kashi cereal without upsetting the blue hairs :)

  • Separating the organics keeps them from getting contaminated by us common folk!

    I still don’t know what the complaint about service is.

    Your not going to get hand held through the store and no wait at checkout. The busiest times are right after everybody gets off work and usually all of the lanes are open with lines. Just go on a Monday at 6pm.

  • Totally agree w/ Angostura. Kroger could go a long way towards updating their image and appeal to more customers by at least mixing their paltry organic/natural selections in with their conventional products.

  • Lots of grumpies on here today. I like the new Kroger although I wish they had a better way to enter the parking lot for Heights folk coming from the east. I haven’t had any problems with the staff, but once upon a time I used to work at Safeway and I can tell you the stress levels of everyone increased big time on weekends, both staff and patrons alike. Thats why I don’t shop on weekends, unless its super early in the morning.

  • That Krogers was so disorganized, disjointed, and utterly confusing during the construction. One day frozen foods moved to the other side of the store, then back again. Go figure. I will second also a very lax management staff who are more than content to let confused and oft lost shoppers wander about aimlessly. Hourly staff are even worse, as stated customer service is all but non existent, and at $7 an hour I guess we can’t expect much from them. The produce department is constantly picked over, again disorganized under stocked and if you don’t know Spanish, good luck asking about spring onions, or brussell sprouts. And what super market runs out of chicken breasts? Seriously? Or 2 liters of Coca Cola? Glad it’s done, maybe we’ll try it again. Glad the “Asian” section is no longer called “Oriental foods” :-). We shall see..

  • I agree with kjb. Are you people crazy? To say that its barely better is ridiculous. I love it! If I’m in a hurry I go to the Fiesta on Studewood. The new Kroger is big but I enjoy the selection. I especially love the organic section and like the fact that its seperate. I can get a lot of what I want in that one section.
    And the last 2 times I was there the check out people were doing cheers and ringing bells. I thought it was funny but it did make me smile. Not bad for a trip to Kroger!

  • “What I like most is that it has everything Central Market and Whole Foods has without the blatant “we are better than you attitude.”

    kjb434, That’s kind of funny. Central Market is the best grocery store in Houston, with the widest variety of food and some of the highest quality standards anywhere. Central Market would never stock a good portion of the produce that the Shepherd Kroger has for sale due to it’s poor quality. The meat, seafood, bakery, and cheese shops are all far superior. Even the flower market at CM is staffed by florist, not checkers, and it shows – though the prices are similar.
    The staff at CM runs rings around some of the slackers at this Kroger. They are knowledgeable and act like they actually want to be working there – much like the staff at the Buffalo Speedway Kroger and the Bunkerhill HEB. Hopefully the Shepherd Kroger will improve to match its new digs, so we don’t feel the need to drive 5 extra miles to shop for groceries.

    “blantant” attitude at CM? Seems like you got a chip on your shoulder.

  • cm,

    How can you complain about it being disorganized when it was under construction?

    Yes a little inconvenient, but considering the task at hand, they did a very good job of keeping the store operational while it was being torn up.

    And the people complaining about service must thing they can get a concierge service when they are shopping and have some with them at all times. Really?

    As for running out of things, they store just reopened and they are still gauging the customer volume. It’s definitely busier than the old one (which was really busy).

  • It couldn’t possibly be any worse than the River Oaks Kroger. You can’t find anything in that store and the meat ‘selection’ is anything but. The employees are clueless and the checkout lanes are always full with nobody opening a new one.

    I hate hate hate that kroger.

  • As a regular patron of this store, I feel the need to put in my 2 cents…
    I think that the Kroger expansion is a good thing overall. While I didn’t have a big problem with the store pre-construction, I like the new layout, bigger selection (they even have those new-fangled Oriental foods!), and cleaner feel. And even though the inside was mass chaos during the renovation, I don’t think there was any way around that. At least they were open! All that said, I have to agree with John and micmcc: by and large, service is lacking. I’m one of those jerks who uses self-checkout with a full cart of groceries because I’d rather not deal with the surly/gossiping cashiers, not to mention I don’t want my produce slammed around by the baggers. And the deli is an adventure in itself – it might take 5 minutes or 30. To be fair, it seems like each department has one or two really competent people, but the rest are just clueless.
    For me, this Kroger is never going to be a replacement for the occassional trip to CM (bigger selection and better service) or Costco (great meat, produce, and bulk stuff), but for the quick once- or twice-a-week shopping trip on the way home from work, it’ll do just fine.
    The whole separated organic section doesn’t bother me too much; you just get used to where everything is after a trip or two.
    And one gripe about the produce section: why is it so hard to keep certain things (flat-leaf parsley, shallots, cilantro) stocked?

  • No but I do think if you plan on rearranging your store daily, you might want to help your customers find what they’re looking for. Don’t think that’s asking too much, nor would anyone in the long lines and crowds of people looking like lost sheep causing all manner of chaos behind the checkouts. It was pretty obvious, but again my experience was management were chatting and oblivious to what was darn obvious. Sorry Krogers is a large company, my father rest his Soul moved here with Fleming Foods to open Krogers stores from Cincinnati and sorry I don’t buy the gauging the response to sales nonsense. The management screwed up and didn’t order enough essential products and ran out, period, no shortages, no rational reasons other than poor planning. I started in the business and hated it, I know it from the ground floor up, the margins are razor thin and it’s like dealing with dozens of monopolies, hence why the family grocer is all but extinct. But that’s another story altogether.

  • I love the selection at the “new” Kroger, but yes, the service is lacking. The checkers are constantly using profanity with each other in front of customers, they ignore customers to have personal conversations with each other or on the phone, etc. It’s unprofessional and just bad service.

    The cheese department is fabulous, though, and I love that they now have bulk herbs and teas. The bakery is a lot better than before. The produce is improved, but inferior to the Airline market. I also like that the store is cleaner and has wider aisles.

    I typically go late at night and use the You-Scan. This lets me avoid staff as much as possible.

  • Kroger management would do well to read some of these comments. I agree that the new Gentrified Kroger (aka Ghetto Kroger) has been superficially improved, but it lacks the substance of good customer service to support it. Central Market, albeit expensive, is an astonishingly superior grocery store and even though I know I’m paying more on my rare visits there, I also know I’m getting more: Wide clean aisles, well-stocked shelves, fantastic selection, amazing produce and in general, the freshest food I’ve ever seen. CM Staff could not be more courteous, helpful, friendly or knowledgeable about the products they offer. ALL grocery stores should strive for their level of excellence. I’ve had checkers pull my basket over to their lane if they’ve just opened so I won’t have to wait. CM is superior for the very reason that John states, because its employees “act like they actually want to be working there.” The ‘Foodie’ mentality permeates CM, from its staff to its clientele. That’s why it works.
    @KJB: Leave it to you to be one of two dissenting opinions on the obvious shortcomings of the new Kroger, although I must admit I LOVE it when store employees hold my hand down every aisle. God knows after 40+ years of grocery shopping, I “still thing” (sic) I must ‘have some(one) with me at all times.’ But even MORE surprising was the discovery yesterday that YOU were a denizen of Mary’s. Really? Dude, you are waaaay too crabby and redneck to be one of Mary’s boys.

  • I wasn’t a denizen of Mary’s. I’ve only been there 3 times during Gay Pride.

    Also, redneck hillbilly gays are much more prominent than you think.

    Just go to the Rainbow Ranch. A gay owned campground in rural Texas.

    Just go to BRB. You have more right wing openly gay people than you can shake a stick at. Actually, you don’t have to just go to the BRB, you can go to any gay bar and find many conservative gay people that are young and old.

  • Who knew?

  • I live equidistant to both W. Gray and the new remodelled store. I’m keeping an open mind but so far, the only difference I see betwwen the two is more space. The cheese and breads seem the same only more spread out. Have to agree that Kroger’s staff is not about service–it’s about having a job and nothing more. For those of you who claim Central Market is pretentious, your own insecurities must be in overdrive. The staff there is helpful and they smile and say hello.
    I’ll probably stick to West Gray because more of the patrons seem to bathe regularly and leave 11th to you die hard

  • Oh yes, I forgot, can we tie this thread into the history of homosexual Houston haunts
    and snobby Southampton socialites?

  • MarketingWiz – Yes!

    Had the exact same reaction regarding kjb and Mary’s. Who woulda thunk it that threads about Mary’s and the former ‘Ghetto Kroger’ would be so utterly fascinating and illuminating….
    Interesting day in the Swamplot.

  • I never thought would ever comment about Mary’s anyway. I guess I should cross that out on my bucket list.

  • I don’t care what the customer service is like…I don’t feel like I need to take a shower after I walk out of that Kroger anymore, and that makes it 100 times better.

    kjb is right.

  • Has anyone looked at the prices? They are so much more than Fiesta or HEB in every category, and have gone way up since expansion. And they still don’t know what to do with my reusable bags that I bring in.

  • The prices at the enlarged Kroger held steady for a little while, but in the past few weeks I have seen a big jump in prices. Definitely a negative.

  • Even though Kroger is a chain, the running of each store seems to vary greatly. The employees at the Voss Kroger are always friendly and efficient. The one in Westbury always seems to be in a state of chaos. And has the most motorized carts I’ve ever seen at one time. The ones in Dallas used to be nasty. Don’t know if they still are.

    While the selection at CM can’t be beat and the employees couldn’t be more helpful, it’s the customers I can’t deal with. They seem to be split between snoots parading around with their noses in the air and the clueless, wandering around in gape-mouthed wonder at it all. Shopping there always requires several stiff drinks, afterward.

  • Having worked in a very modern and successful grocery store many years ago has provided me insight into the inner workings of the retail grocery world. Cooking a lot, being frugal and generally being a foodie make me an observant grocery shopper.

    Most of the time I agree with Kyle, but here I get to differ on the Merchants Park/Ghetto Kroger.

    It has surprised me that the West U Kroger has managed to evolve into a very different animal than the rest of the Krogers around. Kroger is a union shop. That being the case, employees caring about the quality of their work, goes out the window at pretty much every other Kroger. I have not seen the Merchants Park Kroger rise above the typical union worker entitlement attitude. I also live about half way between the West Gray store and Merchants Park. When I have to, I end up popping in to the Merchants Park store, only to mutter to myself on the way out how I wished I hadn’t gone in there again.

    I will admit the store is light years ahead of what it was, but I don’t see myself shopping there any more than once in a while. I’ll take the clean and courteous Foodarama on 18th anytime over that Kroger for everyday shopping and then hit Central Market for items unavailable at the typical stores. The attitude of the employees at Central Market is light years better than at Kroger. But then HEB doesn’t have to deal with union poison either.

  • For real, do you all eat the Kroger meat?

  • I never thought would ever comment about Mary’s anyway. I guess I should cross that out on my bucket list.

    Too late. Now we know you’re a redneck hillbilly gay man.

    Now the BRB I’ve been to. Love to watch them old,and young, redneck hillbillies dance!

  • LOL!

    I prefer CoonAss. The term us from the swamp in Louisiana are called when we aren’t pure Cajun.

  • And back to grocery thingies I love Central Market. I just don’t love the people who shop there. Or the ones who shop at Whole Foods. I’m not into “experience shopping” which is why whenever I was in Los Angeles I shopped at the Gayway as the Safeway on Santa Monica was called. Lots of specialty items you didn’t find at other Safeways. Terrific produce, although you had to watch Zsa-Zsa’s dogs since they mistook the lettuce for grass so to speak, wonderful meats and poultry and seafood, a bakery that rivaled La Mousse, lots and lots of imported cheeses, and lots and lots of Hollywood stars who looked like, well, maybe they just got off the tennis court.

    It was sort of a Central Market for normal unpretentious people.

  • I prefer CoonAss. The term us from the swamp in Louisiana are called when we aren’t pure Cajun.

    Okay. Now everyone knows you’re a gay CoonAss. All you people from the swamp as you call it. Dancing, singing, eating all the time. Scandalous.

  • I don’t see how anyone can suggest that the new Kroger has everything Central Market has. OK, maybe if the only thing you buy is milk. The bakery started off OK, but I notice that some of the really good fresh bread has vanished to make room for some kind of weird cinnamon sugar concoction that looks like a horse took a dump on a frisbee. The cheese section is just bad; poor selection and really overpriced, go to Spec’s for a deal or Central Market/Whole Foods for good selection. And I have to agree that the organic ghetto is dumb in any size story, extra dumb in one the size of a small town. And the produce still sucks.

    They spent a lot of money and I still find myself only going when I’m not in the mood to drive all the way to Central Market.

    I am, however, highly amused that someone won’t go there because the neighborhood is too scary.

  • Is there anybody who has lived near the “new” 11th St. Kroger who remembers the last time it was remodeled? Seems like it wasn’t that long ago, when they converted it from a REALLY ghetto Kroger into a “Flagship” store. When was that? Maybe it was 10-12 years ago, but it seems like yesterday. Or maybe I am getting old.

  • I moved in the area 5 years ago and they did a remodel shortly thereafter to the deli and produce section in the old store. They also added in the self checkout.

    What was funny is that prior to that remodel, the deli had to the kiosk to place orders to be picked up later. After the remodel it didn’t come back.

    Prior to moving to the area, I used to live and go to the Kroger at Buffalo Speedway. I went through the remodel there also.

  • The last big remodel was in 1996, opening in December 1996 or January 1997. Before that, the store was just grim, and had not had much dine since some time in 1906. OK, 1960. The Signature upgrade was a huge improvement. The current incarnation is fine. We do most of our shopping there, with occasional forays to CM or the Randalls on Shepherd. we’ve never had a problem with the produce, but then we also used to occasionally shop at the Rice on Patton (now something else) where the produce was truly bad.

    As for the area around the 11th St Kroger, it’s just not that bad. Anyone who thinks it’s scary has never been in a really bad neighborhood.

  • Sorry, I didn’t realize we were comparing the remodeled Kroger to CM. Of course its not like CM. Its a Kroger! For a Kroger its fine. Compared to the old ghetto Kroger its fabulous. Compared to CM…no way. Maybe everyone is expecting too much. At the end of the day its still a Kroger.

  • I have to laugh at everyone about the produce selection. I am in the produce biz and know quite a lot about it. Most of the produce is the same grade and comes from the same companies regardless of which store you are in. You are all just fooled by smoke and mirrors as far as that goes – it is simple presentation that makes us think one is better than the other. Central Market does bring in more varieties than the others but the staples are all coming from the same places.

  • One more comment – I have lived about 3 blocks from that Kroger for a few years and it is just sad and narrow minded to think it is a dangerous area! Geez – expand your thinking a little bit. I think the suburbs are waiting if you get scared in this area – and I grew up in a rural area and I am not scared!

  • @ Judy

    I know personally it is not the produce selection that I have a problem with. It is the fact that their produce section is always picked over and what is left is on the verge of rotting and gross. I have gone into that store twice since the full renovation to get green onions and plain ol’ roma tomatos and both times found a next to empty crate of leftovers. I don’t know if they have a problem ordering enough food or are just plain lazy and don’t put the new stuff out in a timely manner.
    I also have to agree with the majority of people here and say that the service is definitly lacking.

  • I was in Kroger the other day and the service had definitely improved, maybe they are reading this thread. Still needs improvement. Investing in your employees by teaching them good customer service is not only of benefit to the store, but to the employees and to the community. DO IT. I worked at Handy Andy in the 70s and we went through quite a lot of training before we were put on the registers, like two weeks worth. The technical training was a small part of the overall training.

  • I’ll continue to drive the extra 7-8 minutes and drive to the Bunker Hill HEB. Better servive, selection and prices. Plus I can hit the Costco too.

  • Love the expansion, I get more exercise traversing the store when I forgot to add something to my basket. Hated the renovation process for the constant relocation of my staple groceries, but that’s (mostly) over now.
    My biggest complaint before, during, and now after the whole ordeal has been Ghetto Kroger’s baggers. I will freely admit to being a bag snob, I was a bag boy at HEB in high school. Growing up in HEB’s hometown of San Antonio spoiled me as far as grocery shopping/bagging is concerned. Moving to Houston was quite the eye-opener. HEB sent all new hires to Bag School for two entire shifts to learn the obvious (no heavy cans on top of bread, no bleach bagged with grapes) and the not so obvious (creating walls, stacking soda bottles sideways). Most of the baggers were high school students and hadn’t had to buy our own groceries and therefore had no reason to care about how this stuff was placed in a grocery bag. (Most high school baggers I worked with also hadn’t had any pain in their life since the doctor slapped them on the ass, but that’s a different rant.) The Bag School taught a necessary skill for a vital employee: the last employee a customer has contact with before leaving the store.
    Is there anything comparable for Kroger baggers, or are they just thrown on the checkout lines and told, “here, put this stuff in a bag as fast as you can, try to keep the cold stuff together.”?
    Yes, I will come right out and say it: I’m one of those freaks who politely but firmly lies to the baggers, “no thank you, this is going to 2 different houses and I need to separate them.” Let your grocery bagging OCD freak flag fly.

  • not my fight as im perfectly content with kroger/west gray, but comparing central market and kroger is not fair. it’s like bitching that a station wagon isn’t a ferrari. one is practical and for everyday use, and the other is high end for occasional use. central market specializes in high-end perishables, whereas kroger runs the gambit of grocery store items.

  • htownproud and EmilyM,

    The CM vs Kroger debate started because earlier someone wrote this:

    “What I like most is that it has everything Central Market and Whole Foods has without the blatant “we are better than you attitude.”

    A comment that many of us found to be absurd.

    If you really do work in the produce biz, then you should know that it all doesn’t come from the same places. What are you talking about??? I worked as an executive chef for many years and know first hand that all producers/farmers/distributors of produce and every other food product are not created equal. There are different levels of quality (grades) of nearly every product – sometimes from the same producers. The suppliers change drastically based on the season, though the distributors might be the same.
    It is a fact that buyers (stores,restaurants) have different standards and buy accordingly – sometimes from the same vendor.
    For whatever reason, this Kroger is being shortchanged in both selection and quality.

  • matt,

    Put me in the OCD bagging camp.

    I usually choose the checkout line by the bagger. Some are a lot better than others. Last time I didn’t get the one I liked and was re-arranging stuff in the cart in front of them.

    Shopping there long enough I found out who were the better ones.

  • Aside from the sketchy all bills paid apartments on north Durham behind Krogers the area isn’t bad at all. There is a substation across the street. I wouldn’t walk behind the store at 3am, but short of that it seems alright..

  • cm is right. It’s not a bad area. Common sense will keep you away from shady characters that you can find in any area similar to this.

    I see a lot of late 20 and 30 somethings in that sore. A lot of young couples and singles. I would like to say the area is on the good side of the neighborhood transition curve (if that exist).

  • @Matt Mystery et al complaining about other shoppers @ CM and WF: You’re not there to purchase OTHER SHOPPERS! Presumably you are there to purchase food and related items. Don’t get your collective panties in a bunch over OTHER SHOPPERS! As long as they aren’t talking down to you or trying to physically harm you, WTF cares? It’s called peaceful co-existence between the haves and the have-nots. Sometimes, I happen to have more than other times, so I treat the family to CM.
    @HTownProud: You are absolutely correct. There is NO comparison between CM and Kroger. More like Ferrari to Yugo.

  • MarketingWiz – I may not go to Whole Foods to buy other shoppers, but that doesn’t make it OK that they run over my feet with their carts, push their carts into me, block an aisle and ignore me while I’m politely saying “Excuse me” to get by, etc.

    I won’t go to the WF at Alabama and Kirby because every time I have gone, any time of day, it’s a giant sociopath convention. I’ve never experienced anything quite like it. And it’s not because it’s WF – back in DC I shopped at Whole Foods all the time…

  • I’m very surprised that Kroger’s “top performing store in the area” is unable to sell condoms after 5 PM because the pharmacy staff takes the keys home with them. When the cashier told me this I was sure she was mistaken so I asked the 2 managers that were hangin’ out in front. They affirmed the first response and seemed very annoyed at my question and interruption into their conversation. I do like the beer section though!

  • I used to be a frequent shopper at the Roger (the Kroger on Montrose), with monthly trips to Central Market for really “special” groceries. But once HEB opened on Buffalo Speedway and Bissonet, Central Market was just a distant memory. Kroeger is OK, but I definitely don’t get that “excited to go shopping” feeling at Kroeger that I get at HEB. If HEB would serve alcohol in to-go cups like Central Market does (shopping with children is much, much easier after a large glass of house wine), it would be the perfect shopping experience.

  • The 11th St Kroger does wine tastings (drops) usually on Saturday. I typically don’t go shopping on Saturday. Rather go after work on Monday or Tuesday. It’s the days a lot of the higher end cuts of meat get reduced. If you aren’t going to used them right then, just freeze them.

  • i agree that the neigborhood isn’t bad but there are definitely some pockets. when i lived on 10th St near shepard I would see drug dealers hanging out at that intersection at all hours every day of the week, right next to what is now the laundromat, across the street from the kroger lot. And it’s still that way today. I know kroger can’t really control that but it’s worth mentioning.

    As far as the apartments behind kroger, I’d have no problem walking down that alley in the middle of the night, in fact i’ve driven it many times. Those apts are filled w/ hardworking (albeit illegal) daylaborors and their families just trying to make an honest living.

  • I thought it was just the Kroger store in my east Houston suburb that was awful. I have routinely watched managers stand around talking while the only two registers open lines got longer and longer.

    I am finally moving into the city and reading all these comments have helped me sort out which grocery stores to try and which to skip. Swamplot readers are the best.

  • The renovated Kroger “Signature” store at 11th and Shepherd is a bonafide joke. Even the store managers don’t know where items are. Worst of all, the new open air fish market is located next to the bakery! As a result, when you walk towards the back of the store, you don’t smell fresh-baked bread. You smell days-old fish. Who fell asleep at the wheel in the store design office on that one? The checkout lanes are understaffed and slow and the last time I was through one, they hadn’t yet replaced the old lines and the customers were still offloading their own carts which, of course, slows things down even more. Give me the Krogers on West Gray or Buffalo Speedway any day. Can’t imagine that they’ll do much better with the skanky Kroger on West 20th. Filthiest, most mismanaged store in the entire Kroger stable. I’ve seen roaches the size of dachshunds in that store. If you shop there, check the bread for mold and the dairy products’ expiration dates. I’ve found yoghurt and cottage cheese in their dairy cases MONTHS past expiration. WHY hasn’t the health department hasn’t closed them down?

  • Cool it just looks like a rough crowd around those apartments, no doubt they probably are hard working immigrants. I just haven’t noticed much else in the area that was really of any concern to me or the misses. Though I definitely prefer the River Oaks Krogers, snooty occasionally but the sushi is worlds better and I can find what I need quickly and efficiently. I definitely DO NOT like the Buffalo Speedway/West U Krogers, same problems as the 11th street store. Too darn much focus on wine, expand the international section..

  • The 11th/Shepherd Kroger no longer bakes its own bread. One of the bakery staff there told me they receive par-baked or frozen stuff, from as far away as California or Minnesota, and just finish it there. The actual baking equipment they had before the big remodel is gone.

  • Agree that the neighborhood is not that bad. Maybe a few years ago, but now it’s definitely on the up-and-up.
    BTW, having the condoms locked up after 5 is inexcusable for a store of that size. The whole “behind the glass” thing is a pet peeve of mine anyway.

  • I think some folks expect way too much from a grocery store. I like the 11th street Kroger. The chicken sandwiches from the deli are the bomb. I really didn’t mind it before. Then again, I am from the mean streets of SW Houston and have no idea what a nice grocery store is.

    As far as layout goes, CM is a damn pain to get around. There are so many goofs just standing around confused and the location sucks. It’s just an HEB with a fancy hat.

  • Expect way too much? Like, fresh food? Milk that’s not five seconds short of expiration? Actual cheese instead of weird processed cheese-esque concoctions? Yes, I have crazy wild expectations.

    The average US supermarket sucks – if you separate the items that would have been called “food” a couple of generations ago from everything else, you’ve got about 10% of the inventory to pick from – and the 11st St Kroger is just a typical example. The problem is when you raise expectations by putting a glossy, Central-Market-ish sheen over things and then the centerpiece of the cheese department is I Cant’ Believe It’s Not Brie! and the bakery is dominated by cookies with fluorescent corn-syrup based icing and the fish market has creepy looking recently-thawed-out fish, people are going to be disappointed. If you raise expectations, you need to meet them.

  • It’s just an HEB with a fancy hat.

    What’s the problem with that? HEB rocks – no matter what hat it’s wearing!

  • John (of comment #58) exactly described the experiences I have had at CM and WF. Incredibly rude customers that make the experience terrible. They are too expensive for my everyday shopping, but even when I’m splurging or looking for something special, I avoid both places at all costs.

  • To add to my comment: I have had this experience much more at WF than CM, but I’ve only been to CM a few times.

  • Couldn’t they have put some trees/landscape curbs in that blazing hot parking lot while they were at it!???
    Still can’t find the cereal aisle…
    Can’t wait for the WF on Waugh. Hopefully, they’ll widen the aisles so you’re little piggies don’t get run over by other shoppers.

  • Valerie – I find CM much easier to deal with also. It can get a little crazy but people don’t seem so rotten there. Also: if you go to CM at off hours, it’s actually pleasant. WF (at least at Alabama & Kirby) is terrible even on off-peak times.

    I find it weird. I used to shop 3-4 times a week at the Whole Foods near my old house in DC and loved the place. Of course, that was a very new store, and built to accommodate the expected volume of customers.

    It’s pretty rare I can find an example of Washingtonians being more considerate than Texans but that is one.

  • Sounds like Kroger put a store inside the loop just like the one they put in the ‘burbs last year near me. They seem to want to make their stores look upscale like the new HEBs, but they’re ordinary Krogers with nothing special inside. Whereas the Central Market branded Cafe On the Run case inside HEB reminds me of the old Eatzi’s, Kroger offers up “Chef Prepared Chicken Quesadillas.”

    Also, the difference in service between HEB & Kroger is obvious even in the ‘burbs.

  • We made a salad with produce from the Kroger on 11th – lettuce, cucumber, green onions, bell pepper, tomato, parsley and lemon juice. None of the vegetables had any flavor…they just tasted wet and crunchy. Perhaps I’m a produce snob, but I have way higher expectations of summer vegetables.

  • All the whining! What babies. People complained about the HEB on 11th, until it moved away. They next turned their attention to Krogers and started on it.
    We have a new Krogers! Let’s be happy!
    I’ll bet all the whiners are also unhappy because we don’t have a Starbucks on every corner.