The transformation of Benjy's into Local Foods Market has been completed. Rice Village's new cafe and market will open February 16, owner Benjy Levit announced (UPDATE: Due to the winter storm, the date has been delayed to February 25).
Levit officially closed Benjy's in October after 25 years in operation. In its place, he's opened a new concept that expands on the grocery items, prepared dishes, and wines that his sandwich shop Local Foods has been selling since the start of the pandemic.
“We are thrilled to continue the pop-up success with the conversion of Benjy’s into a larger Local Foods Market," Levit said in a statement. "Our chefs have created an amazing menu featuring upscale ingredients for diners to enjoy in a casual atmosphere. We wanted to create a fun wine-centric space with a laid-back vibe, a new way to highlight our great purveyors.”
Shoppers will find local eggs, milk, and beef, as well as cheeses sourced from Houston Dairymaids. In addition, Local Foods Market will offer specialty items such as Rancho Gordo heirloom beans, SQIRL jams from Los Angeles, Woon sauces from San Francisco, and La Boîte biscuits & spices. The upstairs has been converted into a wine shop focused on natural wines — including eight on draft — as well as craft beer and cider.
Veteran Benjy's chefs Maria Gonzalez and Mike Potowski have created a counter service menu built around locally sourced ingredients. Expect options such as cheese and charcuterie plates and proteins that include hot smoked salmon, roasted chicken, Texas wagyu, and pastrami (both beef and tofu) — all of which can be added to a selection of salads. Grab-and-go items such as vegan sushi, Japanese-style egg salad sandos, and Texas buffalo meatloaf will also be available.
Local pop-ups will showcase up-and-coming vendors. The first will take place on Friday, February 19 with Top Chef contestant Sasha Grumman selling focaccia from 1-4 pm (or until sold out).
Levit hired Texas architect Michael Hsu to redesign the space. Changes include new booths and vintage-style lighting fixtures. Diners may sit inside or on an all-new, 50-seat patio.
Having completed his renovations at Local Foods Market, Levit will refresh the Rice Village location of Local Foods. It will operate as to-go and delivery-only beginning February 15 to allow for renovations that are expected to last until March.
Initially, Local Foods Market will be open daily from 11 am-9 pm with breakfast and brunch hours to follow in the coming weeks.