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When Rice Epicurean Market announced they were closing four of their five stores in Houston, I was a bit shocked. I frequented the location on Memorial as it was one of the only specialty grocery stores in my area. At the same time of that communication, another was made regarding The Fresh Market. They were taking over the four locations and bringing their concept to Houston for the first time. With the level of competition in the Houston market for grocers that plant their focus in the specialty arena, I anticipated their arrival. Sometimes change is good…

With grand openings that began last week and are staggered over the next few weeks, The Fresh Market is making its presence known in the Tanglewood, Memorial, River Oaks and West University areas. Each location has gone through a full remodel and transformation to transition to their own design highlighting a more traditional European look and feel that truly “invokes the senses”. The spaces are intimate (each store is fairly small) and the layout allows for ease of shopping (get in and out quickly) and include many sections not found in a traditional market, like the “old fashioned candy” aisle that immediately caught our attention.

When we visited The Fresh Market location in West University, we learned that:

1. They are always looking for the best looking and best tasting produce and all produce is labeled with the country from which it was sourced.
2. For their local products, they will go within 100 miles to buy from local farmers. The “sourced” distance (in miles) is even displayed.
3. Although organics are stressed and preferred, they will offer conventional items as well which are clearly noted as to not confuse the consumer.
4. Anything with the fresh market logo is packaged in house. This includes everything from cut meats to dry items.
5. If you ask to sample the produce they will cut it right there so you can have a taste; the “try before you buy” method. Very cool!
6. They grind many of their meats in house and they can even be cut and ground to order.
7. They have 30 different kinds of breads and 14 different kinds of pies that are made in house.
8. They have a hot sandwich program as well and a sandwich builder and a salad bar.
9. For the cheese lovers, they offer over 200 different varieties and focus on more unique cheeses.
10. Don’t leave without getting a bag of their dehydrated okra! You will thank us later.

Check out a few photos from our visit…

Grand Openings

Wednesday, July 17: 2617 West Holcombe Blvd. (now open)
Wednesday, July 24: 12516 Memorial Dr.
Wednesday, August 7: 3745 Westheimer Rd.
Wednesday, August 21: 5016 San Felipe St.

Shanna Jones

Shanna is the co-founder and editor of Urban Swank. She focuses on food and travel.

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