Ten years ago, the Randall's grocery store groundbreaking in Midtown changed the way Houstonians thought of the burgeoning neighborhood, adding clout and convenience that helped cement its revitalized residential status.
It's not quite as impressive, partly because East Downtown hasn't exactly been a food desert — there are some ethnic markets and even a Kroger further into the East End — and partly because the stakes are lower. Epicurean Express is just a fraction of the size of a full grocer, at 3,500 square feet.
For gentrifying residents, it won't take the place of a drive to the nearest supermarket, but it has all the staples — your basic fruits and vegetables, spices, oils, pasta and other dry goods, a small section of toiletry and cleaning items and a forthcoming deli. And plenty of wine and beer. (Actually the beer aisle is most indicative of the changing neighboring, with 40s shelved right above the local craft beer selection.)
There will also be a coffee bar offering breakfast items and more gournmet prepared meals in the fall, a press release promises.
Epicurien Express is the creation of Anthony Wegmann, who also owns EaDo haunts Lucky's Pub and Cork Soakers wine bar. Wegmann says that he'll use the purchasing power of his two bar/restaurant venues to keep prices low at Epicurean and to give him a built-in base as the neighborhood becomes more established.
"I see this as a viable business not only from the standpoint of serving a need, but given that I am a restaurateur, I am able to take advantage of cost benefits associated with buying food for Cork Soakers and Lucky’s and using product at several venues, ensuring I can keep a high quality, stocked inventory to meet those needs,” Wegmann said in a statement.
Do you think Epicurian Express will have an impact in EaDo? Does a grocery store (even a small one) affect the residential market? Can it survive the competition once Phoenicia opens next to Discovery Green?