HEB improves retail and dining options for shoppers

H-E-B announced on Tuesday it’s opening a store in New Braunfels, Texas, with two features that are new for the company: its first two-story True Texas BBQ restaurant and the debut of its Home by H-E-B department.
At 122,000 square feet, the store will also have other shopping options to enhance the customer experience, like an expanded organic and local produce section, a department with chef-inspired meals, a drive-thru pharmacy and larger curbside pickup area. The store opens on Friday, per local news reports, and replaces a just-closed location.
H-E-B is among several grocery chains creating a one-stop destination by branching out into non-food retail and on-site meal options.

H-E-B personal shopper Brenda Flores checks items as she gathers cold food products for a curbside order inside the Buffalo Heights H-E-B store on Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2019.

In replacing its store on Walnut Avenue, which opened in 1994, H-E-B added 40,000 square feet to the soon-to-open location and transformed it into an “enhanced” shopping experience, per the press release.

The store will offer seating for its True Texas BBQ restaurant on the first and second floors. This multi-level treatment shines a spotlight on one of the grocer’s signature restaurant brands, which opened its first in-store spot in 2013 and now operates more than a dozen locations. In 2019, Texas Monthly called the brand “the best BBQ chain in Texas.”

The store’s Home by H-E-B department will have two brands — Haven + Key and Texas Proud — featuring “hundreds” of items like home textiles, décor, furniture and accent pieces. The Texas Proud brand will have many similar items to the Haven + Key, but each selection is made by Texas-based artisans and businesses, including wood and antler art from Broken Antler in Converse, leather goods from Lucio Tailoring Co. in San Antonio, cowhide benches from Texas Bench Worx in Luling and hand-poured candles from Rustic Swank in New Braunfels.

H-E-B said it plans to bring Home by H-E-B to more of its stores throughout the year.

The updated store will also feature a Texas Backyard section for outdoor items and marks the first of H-E-B’s three locations in New Braunfels to have a licensed nutritionist operating inside the store, Community Impact Newspaper reported.

Other notable store features from the H-E-B announcement include a larger curbside pickup area; a Meal Simple department with “chef-inspired” meals; and a Healthy Living department featuring bulk items, sports nutrition and more

The store is adding 150 additional workers, bringing the total to 500, H-E-B noted.

Several grocers are working to expand their restaurant offers and non-food retail. Hy-Vee, which has a reputation for experimentation, has added experiential shopping touches to some of its newest stores. This includes trialing hybrid eyewear kiosks, shoe departments, financial services, fitness equipment sales and nail salons, and rolling out more digital touchpoints like in-store QR codes linked to ship-to-home services.

Meanwhile, Kroger and Walmart are trialing ghost kitchens in a few stores and several regional chains, like Gelson’s and Lucky California, are offering in-store restaurant options that include home delivery and pickup.

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