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San Antonio-based H-E-B is looking to expand its upscale Central Market banner in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, starting with a new 30,000-square-foot store in a high-traffic area near Southern Methodist University.
A decade after opening its first Central Market in Fort Worth, the brand is interested in expanding into other Dallas Metroplex neighborhoods, Stephen Butt, Central Market senior VP, told Fort Worth’s Star-Telegram.
Central Market executives reportedly visited urban markets in New York for ideas on how to large stores with broad selections into smaller spaces. If the new smaller Dallas format works, Butt told the Star-Telegram, “We can take that into good locations, close to neighborhoods and communities we want to serve. I would estimate if the right locations were available for a smaller size footprint, I think we could find several more locations in the Metroplex in the primary area.”
Central Market has launched a 10th anniversary remodeling at its Fort Worth store and will mark the occasion with a week’s worth of events beginning Oct. 24, including an exclusive party to benefit a Fort Worth hospital.
The plan for smaller stores is in part based on a lack of sites suitable for larger stores. H-E-B, which dominates markets such as San Antonio and Austin, has been creeping into the Metroplex for several years, the Star-Telegram reported. But given the intensely competitive Dallas-Fort Worth food market, Butt told the S-T that H-E-B wants to develop the interior urban markets with the unique Central Market concept. The first Central Market opened in 1994 in Austin; now there are eight.
The Dallas store will include the same serpentine flow as the larger ones, Butt said. The new store will have a cafe, but the seating area will be smaller, and the store will feature an area for cooking demonstrations, but not enough space for a full weekly cooking school like the other Central Markets.
Butt told the S-T that he expects customers will come from a tighter radius and may visit the store more frequently than other Central Markets, and many may walk from their homes and workplaces. The store is close to a large segment of East Coast transplants who are used to shopping at urban markets, he said.
The revamp of the Fort Worth Central Market, to be completed early next year, will include a cafe expansion; new produce cooler; streamlined checkout area that will allow expansion of a nearby display area; double the space for prepared foods; live-theater elements such as stations where mozzarella, pasta and bagels will be made fresh; bulk oils and vinegars; and a new salad bar, goat cheese station and expanded bakery case.