Foodie News

Byrd's Market bites the dust: Can a downtown Houston grocer survive?

Byrd's Market bites the dust: Can a downtown Houston grocer survive?

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The sign posted on Byrd's says renovations are taking place but city officials conform the closure is for real. Photo by Sarah Rufca
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Byrd's has closed down after opening in January 2010. Adam Brackman
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Photo by Sarah Rufca
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Places_Food_Byrd's Market & Cafe_exterior_day
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In disappointing but not altogether unexpected news, Byrd's Market in downtown Houston has closed its doors after 18 months in business at the corner of Main and Prairie.

Byrd's was the first latecomer to attempt a hybrid grocer, coffee shop and café. While the coffee was always good, Byrd's suffered from a location without much foot traffic, and while the sandwiches and salads were always decent (better than those at bustling Café Express several blocks away) the quality didn't always match the price nor did it make Byrd's a destination.

But it was the failed market aspect that was really a letdown. With so much room devoted to dry goods, the demand never really fit the space, and the shelves always sat depressingly near empty.

The end of Byrd's could be a bad sign for Epicurean Express, the new mini-grocer in EaDo, or even the soon-to-open Phoenicia Specialty Foods in One Park Place. Are downtown grocers really filling a need or are they just trying to create one?

And yet the early success of Revival Market in the Heights shows that a small grocer with a laser-like focus, niche market and sufficient buzz can bring people in. Perhaps when it comes to serving the downtown market, the lesson of Byrd's is to know what you do and do it well.

Will you miss Byrd's? Do you think there is hope for downtown markets?