Opening Day: H-E-B Buffalo Market Stampede Begins

Fresh from a first visit to the new butterfly-roofed, design-pedigreed H-E-B Market on Buffalo Speedway at Bissonnet — which opened to the public bright and early at 6 o’clock this morning — a reader writes in with a report:

There were uniformed traffic directing cops with loud whistles herding eager shoppers into the parking lot. In the entry way, I was greeted by HEB Buddy, some kind of a brown bag cartoon character. The store was packed and had a carnival-like atmosphere. HEB was well-prepared with quadruple staff greeting and answering questions. The buffalo speedway side seems to be more of the Central Market stuff, like Cafe On the Run, bakery, fish market, etc. And the rest of the store feels more like an HEB with Central Market products integrated throughout. As a regular shopper at Central Market, I think having some cheaper alternatives nearby will save me money.

More photos, plus . . . the downside:


The backed-up traffic on Buffalo Speedway:

Cons: The bulk food section is not as big as at Central Market. There is an end cap with bulk spices and a scaled down bulk coffee section. And when I checked out, I was informed they don’t take the Foodie card. Not sure if they will accept Central Market coupons.

What a meat market!

What about that giant Kroger just across Buffalo Speedway? Fox 26 reporter Isiah Carey says it’s gone nightclub:

As soon as I walked through the door I heard r&b music blasting. I thought to myself this Kroger is off the chain. Then I heard people applauding. I looked up on the second floor of the ‘grocery store’ and saw a live band. . . . The lead singer who happens to be a woman then went into her rendition of Bobby Brown’s My [Prerogative] . . .

On this day at the Kroger you could virtually get your lunch for free because there were so many samples being handed out to everyone. This is becoming a grocery store war. But I have to hand it to Kroger, the live band won me over. It made me want to go to the wine section, grab a bottle, pop it open and say screw my job. I’m chillin at Kroger all day long!

Photos: Swamplot inbox

34 Comment

  • Not to pimp too hard, but we had a story and a slideshow up yesterday about the new store:


    I came away more impressed with the store because I wasn’t expecting a full-blown Central Market. It’s got just enough of the Central Market touch while still being well-sized, convenient and full of regular, non-foodie items. So they don’t accept the Foodie card? Tough titties. It’s not a Central Market; it’s an H-E-B. :D

  • So…which of the dueling West U grocery-porn palaces will SexyAttack strike first?

    How I wish that HEB would open just one regular store in the Heights/GardenOaks area…just one suburban-style HEB…

  • Amen MizBrooke Smith!

  • I second Miz Brooke Smith. I actually drive to the HEB on Bunker Hill and I-10 (which looks very similar to the Buffalo Market HEB) to shop despite there being other alternatives nearer by because of price and selection.

  • Let’s get ready to RUM-BUUUUUUULLLLLLLLLLLLL!!!!!!!!!!!

    The Kroger on Buffalo is the highest grossing Kroger in Texas. No way HEB wasn’t going to get in the mix. Let the battle begin.

  • One thing one Kroger’s has over any other store is the incredible markdowns on meat but I will never tell which one because then the place would be overwhelmed. Some of us keep charts. So we know what will be marked down when.

    I’ve shopped them all including HEB and in general Kroger’s is still the best value. Unless you’re into “chi-chi” things. I’m not simply because if I’m going to pay for “chi-chi” I’m going to pay to have someone else cook it and serve it.

    I went into Central Market once. The Needless-Markup of grocery stores.

  • In terms of convenient access, Kroger still has the better location. For that reason, I’ll stick with Kroger. Competition is nice, but two grocery stores is just going to make traffic worse in this already-congested stretch of Buffalo Speedway.

  • I am so upset with those Uniformed officers “directing” traffic. Do you know how much goes into traffic management and synchronizing signals and all that? All evening long I watched these people jump into the middle of the road, stop traffic and create a huge mess. Just for this I am boycotting the HEB till HEB management removes these unnecessary officers from their store access. Can you believe how much of Tax payer dollars which pay the salaries of these officers are wasted for a private enterprise like HEB? What an utter injustice to the community. We residents who live nearby really suffered today and I don’t know how long this is going to last. We also observed that the minute the officers left, traffic flowed smoothly and everything was normal.
    During construction, the contractors that HEB hired made such a mess and created high level of noise violating City of Houston Noise ordinances at 5 AM in the morning. I already have a negative view of this HEB. It would be a desperate day when I shop in this store. I am going to write to the city authorities to make HEB close the access from Bissonnet. If HEB management ever reads this blog, I hope they consider the community around them which supports their store and take necessary steps not to bother us.
    I am boycotting this HEB. I am starting to write my letters to the authorities.

  • I’ll never enter that new HEB.

    It has ruined the Buffalo Speedway. Driving from Holcombe to my bank on Buffalo and Westpark was horrible, with traffic backed up blocks below Bissontt. The construction on Kirby leaves few alternatives.

    HEB destroyed a number of small businesses to build this ugly structure that looks like the New Orleans airport built in the 1950’s. It tried to crush the Buffalo Grill which has been hanging on, but may have trouble now because

    THEY DIDN’T BUILD ENOUGH PARKING. Was there no city planner imput? When I passed, I saw some people who had parked across the speedway being ushered across by the officers. When I turned into the bank, thee were some security people from the side across from the HEB and there were signs saying parking for customers only.

    This place has created a traffic nightmare. I suppose we will wind up with a traffic signal in the middle of the block eventually.

  • Resident Nearby said:
    Can you believe how much of Tax payer dollars which pay the salaries of these officers are wasted for a private enterprise like HEB?
    Those police officers were working extra jobs on their own time, with HEB paying $25-$50 per hour for each of them. No taxpayer dollars involved.

    Now, whether police officers ought to be directing traffic is another question entirely, and one I’m sort of ambivalent about.

    I do hope that when Kroger on 11th and Shepherd is finished, we won’t have the same traffic issues.

  • I have to reiterate:

    Amen MizBrooke Smith!

    The new Kroger expansion at 11th (which is moving along quite nicely and fast!) is real nice, but I still would like to have a choice of an HEB nearby to compare shop. The falling apart HEB pantry at 18th doesn’t cut it.

    About the cops hired to direct traffic, I find this usually makes traffic much worse they if they weren’t there.

  • Even if the 11th St Kroger does big business, there’s probably enough ingress & egress options all along the huge Shepherd-side parking lot to accommodate car traffic…just have to watch out for speeders zooming down from the overpass, and giant lakes in the outer lanes of Shepherd when it rains. The 11th Street side might be a problem and it’s unclear whether there will be obvious access to Durham southbound on the “back side” of the complex.

  • I’ve seen bands playing at Kroger on Buffalo Speedway several times over the past few years. I like it and hope they do this at the new 11th St location. Miz Brooke Smith, Amen squared. I hope the grocery war shifts north when the new Kroger opens. Surely the 11th st location will bring in some bucks.

    Anyone else hate the way HEB has all stores laid out? It makes no sense to me.

  • I have noticed the new Kroger expansion does not go all the way to the O’Reilly store. This may be another way to get from Durham.

  • That would be wise. Until now there has only been that half-hidden, speed-bumped, Dumpster-lined cut-through.

    Somewhat unrelated: The Radio Shack at the south end of the vast Nefud that is the Shepherd parking lot has some knowledgeable staff. It is somehow reassuring to have a Radio Shack nearby, especially in hurricane season.

  • I’ve been to that Radio Shack too.

    Since they are franchised, the quality of the employee is all a matter of the individual store owner and hiring manager.

    That’s why they can be a hit or miss on quality of service.

  • Re: the expanding Kroger at 11th/Shepherd — let’s hope security is beefed up in that parking lot. This is the only place in town where I have been pestered by panhandlers, and across 11th, behind the convenience store, this is always a group of 10-20 unemployed “day-laborers” (at least I HOPE they are waiting for work!) hovering around. Their presence keeps me from parking in that lot to shop at Ross.

  • Then call the police Lune.

    Oh wait, our mayor won’t arrest them. They aren’t citizens!

    This supports driving versus walking. You don’t have to get pestered!

  • I went to that Ross once, when it opened, to check it out. Bad enough that it was so depressing in selection and ambiance — the presence of the men in the parking lot have kept me away ever since. I have no desire to be assailed by stares, kissy noises or hisses as I go about my business. Makes one wonder if the property management company has any idea, or any care for that matter, how many customers stay away precisely for this reason.

  • The property owners probably don’t want to be labeled as racist or xenophobes (which they wouldn’t be).

    I would just call ICE!

  • Nobody makes kissy noises at me anymore. I stood real still, trying to attract some attention. A small Salvadoran tried to paint me.

  • The Heights Patrol Station is right there next to Ross….

  • Ha! So it is!

  • Forget Ross and Kroger….I’m excited about the new Auto Parts store that just put up a contruction sign up on 11th and Dorothy (across from Dragon Bowl). How exciting to have a third auto parts store within the 1/10th mile!!!

  • No doubt to serve customers of all the used-car joints along Shepherd! Buy a cheap beater and fix it up right there in the Ross parking lot with supplies from the handy-dandy auto parts store. Su trabajo es su credito.

  • I agree with “justguessin”. The HEB store layott is a mess and the few times I have bought fruit there, it is rotten within 2-3 days. Not a fan of HEB. Kroger has a fantastic layout and the prices are reasonable. Long live Kroger Buffalo SPDWY!! ;)


  • I had no idea the HEB was opening yesterday and went shopping at Kroger…which is where I usually go (even though I live within walking distance of the Randall’s on Bissonnet/Weslayan).

    Anyway, Kroger was really stepping it up yesterday. They had a live band, tons of free samples, including wine and ice cream, enough said. The big kicker though that will keep me a loyal Kroger customer–they have new racecar shopping carts that play Dora the Explorer episodes in them on little TVs for the kids. Amazing idea. I actually enjoyed my shopping experience with my 2-year-old.

    Okay HEB…top that!

  • I’ve been excited about this for months. I was planning on going there shortly, but after seeing the photos from Wednesday, I’m a little frightened wondering what kind of melee I’m going to encounter on a Saturday. Still, this is a godsend. No longer do I have to put up with the tyranny of the Disco Kroger! 65 cents for a tiny can of Fancy Feast? Outrage.

  • Of course, by “Disco Kroger,” I am referring to the tiny, dark Kroger on Montrose, not the newly-reinvented Nightclub Kroger. (Never been there myself.)

  • ‘kay, I checked it out on Saturday (easy parking) and today, because I was so overwhelmed I forgot everything (not so good on the parking, the cops were back again).

    So far, I am impressed. As far as I can tell, here are the pros and cons, based upon today.

    Pros: 1) Samples, samples, samples. I ate like a king. Four separate wineries handed out samples to go with my food. 2) Prices. I love Central Market, but that’s where I go to blow money, not to buy staples. Now, I have a place to go to get good deals while also blowing money on interesting cheese. (Bonus points for the fact that they have a tag on the Fancy Feast comparing the 52 cents to Kroger’s 65 cents. This is a real sticking point with me.) Also, Kroger ought to be sued for charging $5.99 for a frozen Kashi entree that costs $2.99 even at Central Market or Target. 3) Meat and fish I can trust to not be six weeks old, and which is being sold at ridiculously good prices right now. 4) Extremely friendly staff. I actually had conversations and laughs with them today. Not sure how long that will last with these crowds, but hey. 5) Samples. Oh, wait, I said that.

    Cons: 1) Today, the big one was parking. This could be bad, but honestly, the novelty will wear off soon enough and it will be fine. 2) I got in trouble for trying to take a camera-phone photo of the Bakery for my Polish mother back in Ohio. However, I have to add that when I deleted it and told the employee who stopped me that I had, this person said “Oh no – don’t delete it… send it to your mom. I just need to say that in case anyone asks.” This was not a big deal, honestly; I’d already sent this site to my mom, so it’s not necessarily a “con,” it was just a “glitch” as I’m used to sending my mom photos from CM. 3) They need the “take a number” format at the meat and fish counters. I made the mistake of getting behind some chick who got 19 live lobsters, and I just wanted two pounds of shrimp. Everyone around me got their seafood first. So, that was a little frustrating. 4) The layout is a little overstimulating. You will probably forget things and have to go back the next day.

    All in all, though, I’m happy to have this store here. I’d recommend it to any other inner-looper who’s extremely tired of Disco or Deco Kroger. (Sorry for the long comment.)

  • Like the store alot. Parking is an issue; hoping it will become better as the “newness” wears off. I had to endure the noise from the Kroger remodel for 6 months, every night beginning at 10am through 4am. Although not perfect, I found that HEB did make an effort to communicate with many neighbors. When I spoke with Corp Mgt at Kroger about same, I got apologies, but they had to work at night as to not interrupt their daily customers. I guess neighbors are not considred important customers. They still don’t get it; they were in violation of the city noise code, and I did get the city and fire marshalls involved. Glad it’s over now, but their night time deliveries need to stop. HEB recognizes the 10pm curfew, and says they don’t have delivereis after that time. Hope it’s true for their neighbors’ sakes.

  • i dont mind the parking issues so much. plus i think traffic has died down. i just LOVE the idea of a hybrid between central market and heb. so many quality products at wonderful prices! cant beat that!i will never EVER switch to kroger!!!!

  • I am told by both City of Houston and HPD authorities that HEB has withdrawn the officers directing traffic. It is for the best. Left alone the traffic is flowing without any trouble even through rush hour. Besides I found out that the officers who man these posts are supposed to follow certain guidelines about not blocking traffic etc, while ensuring public safety. So far HEB has been a very callous and insensitive neighbor about all this. I am still not going to that store. Kroger is so much frienlier and more organized.

  • To reply to an earlier comment: This HEB did not try to crush Buffalo Grill. The owner of the Buffalo Grill owns the entire block and gladly destroyed all of the small businesses for the huge check HEB gave him. The uber-rich owners were so uninterested in Buffalo Grill there was apparently talk of not re-opening it in a new location, probably because what is the point of keeping a cafe open that “only” makes $250k to $350k a year in net profit.