First look

Foodies rejoice! Exclusive sneak peek of Phoenicia's new downtown location (it opens Nov. 7)

Foodies rejoice! Exclusive sneak peek of Phoenicia's new downtown location (it opens Nov. 7)

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“The souvlaki machines are lined up like soldiers, just waiting for customers,” says co-owner Ann-Marie Tcholakian. Photo by Tyler Rudick
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The MKT BAR at the McKinney Street entrance will open at 7 a.m. daily, serving breakfast pastries, coffee, and tea. The cafe will also serve Trentino Gelato as well as beer, wine, and small plates until 9 p.m., with extended hour until 2 a.m. on weekends. Photo by Tyler Rudick
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On the first floor, a full deli will serve hot and cold prepared items. Photo by Tyler Rudick
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Upstairs, Phoenicia will offer the bulk of its packaged imported good as well as a large selection of kitchen items. Photo by Tyler Rudick
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With over 10,000 items, the new store hopes to tap into downtown's lucrative dining market with quick prepared lunch options and a cafe. Photo by Tyler Rudick
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The final pieces are falling into place... Phoencia Specialty Foods opens Nov. 7 with a grand opening scheduled for Nov. 14. Photo by Ann-Marie Tcholakian
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After keeping foodies on the edge of their seats for over a year, Phoenicia announced its new downtown location at One Park Place will open Nov. 7, with a grand opening event on Nov. 14.

Located just off Discovery Green in the first two floors of the residential high rise facing Austin street, the staff is already busily filling shelves with the specialty food store's signature Mediterranean imports Monday afternoon. Late last week, workers finished placing the remaining letters on the large neon sign.

Designed by Jackson & Ryan Architects, the interior space maintains a more upscale look than Phoenicia’s main branch on the city's far west side — with polished concrete floors, chrome kitchen-grade shelving and factory-styled lighting fixtures.

 “The souvlaki machines are lined up like soldiers, just waiting for customers,” co-owner Ann-Marie Tcholakian says, pointing to a row of 10 empty roasters.

 "We wanted an urban-industrial feel for the new store,” says co-owner Ann-Marie Tcholakian, daughter of founders Bob and Arpi Tcholakian. “We hoped to reflect the urban surroundings, while making the space feel casual, but elegant.”

Like the original store, a flat bread conveyor belt snakes throughout the interior, connecting the upstairs bakery to the extensive deli on the first floor. The owners have introduced hot food items to their popular in-store deli concept, further expanding take-out options for an anticipated large lunchtime crowd.

“The souvlaki machines are lined up like soldiers, just waiting for customers,” Tcholakian says, pointing to a row of 10 empty roasters.

Along McKinney Street will be the new MKT BAR — Phoenicia’s first foray into full table service. Inside the cafe and bar, the urban-industrial theme continues with vintage-styled metal chairs and tables from Restoration Hardware and panels of roughly-hewn wood from antique lumber dealer Woodshop in Texas City.

The MKT Bar will open at 7 a.m. daily for breakfast, coffee, and handcrafted gelato from Houston's own Trentino. Small plates, as well as beer and wine, will be served until 9 p.m., with extended hours until 2 a.m. Thursday through Saturday.

“Aside from the new cafe area, almost everything will be the same as the original,” says Bob Tcholakian. “Our importing and distribution, however, all will remain on the west side, including our main offices.”

For the downtown location, Tcholakian partitioned the shopping experience into two distinct floors. Packages goods and cookware will be located on the second floor in front of a glassed-in deli area, where patrons can watch the bakers at work.

The street level is designed to handle the heavier traffic of take-out crowds, primarily featuring prepared food as well as smaller items from the store’s massive spice section.

“My father has always created these spice mixtures himself,” Ann-Marie says, “although, admittedly, he received some help for the Italian blends.”

About Phoenicia Specialty Foods

Founded nearly three decades ago, Phoenicia began as a Mediterranean-style delicatessen near Beltway 8 at Westheimer before morphing into a full-scale specialty grocery store in the early 1990s. Five years ago, the Tcholakians launched Phoenicia Specialty Foods, the 55,000-square-foot international food market across from the original deli. Since it opened, the business has remained family-owned and operated with the three Tcholakian siblings directing daily management and wholesaling.

Phoenicia Specialty Foods Downtown will open its doors Monday, Nov. 7 in One Park Place at 1001 Austin, just west of Discovery Green. An official grand opening is scheduled for Monday, Nov. 14.