the end of an era

Houston's oldest family-owned grocery store announces end of an epicurean era

Houston's oldest family-owned grocery store announces imminent end

Rice Epicurean Houston front facade
The last Rice Epicurean will close in July. Rice Epicurean/Facebook

Houston's oldest family-owned grocery store will soon close its doors. Rice Epicurean Market announced it will close its remaining location in Briargrove at the end of July.

Located at 2020 Fountain View Dr., the store will become a new location of Spec's Wines, Spirits, and Finer Foods. It is expected to open later this year, according to the letter, which was authored by owners Gary Friedlander, Bruce Levy, Tommy Friedlander, Scott Silverman, and Phil Cohen. 

"With the closing of our last store, this is a historic time for our family as we complete the transition of our business that we began several years ago," the letter reads. Later, it adds, "Our family's business has naturally expanded over the years into real estate, in neighborhood shopping centers initially with our own stores, and now with many quality retailers. With this transaction, our family's business progression and growth in the Houston real estate business continues."

Founded in 1937 as the the Rice Boulevard Food Market, Rice Epicurean grew to five Houston-area locations. In 2012, its owners sold four of those location to the Fresh Market grocery chain but kept the Fountain View location.

Fans appreciate the store for its peerless customer service, extensive selection of hard-to-find boutique items from around the world, and overall convenience. The store's catering department is particularly well-regarded by portions of Houston's Jewish community, which uses it for both happy occasions and to provide comfort to families mourning the death of a loved one. Of course, the closure affects more than the store's customers. 

"We also recognize that this transaction affects people who have worked for our stores for many years, some dating back to the original Rice Food Market stores," the letter reads. "They are all very important to us. We plan to keep as many people working as we wind down the operations through the end of July and use the transition period to help our associates that are looking for new positions."