Some Houston restaurants that are struggling from lost revenue due to governmental restrictions on dining out are testing a new revenue stream to boost their business. They’re becoming grocery stores.
At a time when lines wrapped around supermarkets have become a staple of TV news coverage about the coronavirus pandemic, these limited operations offer customers the ability to pick up a few staples while following recommendations about social distancing. No, they may not have a two dozen types of cereal or an entire aisle devoted to bottle water, but they can offer people fresh produce, cleaning products, and a limited selection of paper goods. If customers want to pick up some prepared food to-go, even better.
The other potential benefit of shopping this way is that consumers get access to restaurant-quality ingredients that aren’t always easy to obtain in a traditional retail setting. Meat from 44 Farms, speciality produce that’s only typically available at a farmers market, and boutique cheeses can all be had by shopping in a dining room.
Providing groceries isn’t new for Henderson & Kane. Owners Veronica and John Avila designed their business in the Old Sixth Ward to serve the neighborhood with both groceries and Central Texas-style barbecue from the very beginning.
Good Dog Houston is one restaurant that’s trying this model for the first time. The restaurant has always sold hot dogs, condiments, and buns to-go, but it recently launched Blakeslee’s Bodega to offer an expanded selection of produce, pantry items (pasta, beans, etc), and more to its product list.
"We are merely trying to survive the crisis at hand. Anything we can sell to help keep jobs alive for our family/staff, we want to do,” co-owner Daniel Caballero tells CultureMap. “We understand grocery stores are overcrowded; by offering a small grocery list for families in the neighborhoods we’re in, we think it will help everyone out.”
Here’s a few of the early adopters and what they’re offering to consumers.
Avondale Food & Wine
In addition to soups, sauces, and pastas made by chef Olivier Ciesielski and breads from Bread Man Baking Co., the Montrose wine shop and restaurant has added two pre-packed boxes — one omnivore and one vegetarian — loaded with ingredients from Texas purveyors such as Gundermann Acres, The Farm Patch, and Dewberry Hills Farm. Call 713-360-6313 to order for pickup at the restaurant.
Bernie's Burger Bus
The restaurant's Bellaire location has started Bernie's Bodega to sell items such as produce, eggs, and meat. Stop by the restaurant at 5407 Bellaire Blvd to choose from the rotating selections.
The Mexico City bistro has a selection of produce, eggs, milk, tortillas and more. Access the restaurant’s website or stop by 214 Fairview St. to see the current selection.
The farm-to-table cafe has established a virtual farmers market that sells items such as a produce box from Atkinson Farms, eggs, milk, tortillas, and more. Order via the restaurant's website for pickup at its locations in Briargrove, Katy, the Heights, and Memorial.
The Bellaire-area Italian restaurant has added staples like dried pasta, flour, soda, and toilet paper (natch) to its usual offerings. Visit the restaurant at 4566 Bissonnet St. or call 346-204-4403 to see the current selection.
The Flying Saucer
Downtown's best craft beer bar also has a grocery bundle available for $60. On Friday, March 20, the assortment included 1-pound of Boar's Head roast beef, 2-pounds of chicken wings, 6 eggs, tortilla chips, Swiss cheese, and more. Beer drinkers also have access to discounts on bottles and growlers to-go. Call 713-228-9472 to order.
Good Dog Houston
Available at both Good Dog locations, Blakeslee’s Bodega will sell produce such as apples and potatoes, dry good such as beans and pasta, cleaning supplies, and more. Daily offerings will be posted on the bodega’s newly launched Instagram page as well as Good Dog’s social media pages.
Henderson & Kane
This modern general store stocks an extensive selection of high-quality local products such as steaks from 44 Farms, Mill King milk, vegan items from Pat Greer’s Kitchen, and more. Their grocery items includes not only grocery items like bread and rice, but also laundry detergent and charcoal. The store opens daily at 9 am and is located at 715 Henderson St.
Chef-owner Jonny Rhodes has always talked about opening a grocery in Trinity Groves, and the coronavirus pandemic has given him the opportunity for a trial run. Located in the restaurant’s garden, the market will sell both fresh meat and produce as well as Indigo’s signature preserved proteins and fruit and vegetable preserves. Additional items will include stocks and soups, freshly made pastas, and homemade ice cream. The market will be held March 26 and 27 from 9 am - 7 pm with more dates to be announced soon.
The Rice Village location’s Hunker Down Market includes fresh meat, cheese, and seafood. Purchase a $99 family pack that includes hummus, campechana, hot sauce, strawberries, and more.
The Landry's restaurant has established Saltgrass Market at all of its locations that are still open. Customers may purchase items such as raw meat, including steaks, dairy (milk, eggs, butter), produce (potatoes, onions, tomatoes), and more. Selection will vary by location, but Instagram has a list with most of the items.