Wednesday, July 15, 2020

The end of the Midtown Fiesta

Can't say I'm surprised:
Houstonians will say farewell to a Midtown supermarket favorite, Fiesta Mart, after its parent company announced it will be closing the doors this Friday.
Considered an iconic neighborhood fixture in Midtown, Fiesta gave shoppers a vast selection of fresh produce and international foods. The store is located at the intersection of Wheeler and San Jacinto.
Like the also-shuttered Sears next to it, that Fiesta was easily visible from I-69 and was, for decades, a landmark in the corner of Midtown. It was there well before townhomes and luxury apartment complexes began springing up around it. I've shopped there on a few occasions, and while it was very no-frills, it had everything you'd expect from a Fiesta, including lots of fresh produce, a variety of international foods, aromas from the in-store tortilleria, and a beer selection that put many other stores to shame.

Fiesta's parent company explained the reason for the closure:
"It is with difficulty that we announce that the Fiesta Mart store located at 4200 San Jacinto will be closing at the end of business on Friday July 10th," Rodriguez wrote in a statement sent to "The decision to close this store was not taken lightly, but due to the expiration of our lease and a number of newer grocery stores in the area we had to make this difficult decision. Despite tremendous efforts by our dedicated store employees and our operations, buying, merchandising and other support teams, sales performance of the store has continued to decline over the past few years."
By "a number of newer grocery stores in the area," they're obviously referring to the two H-E-Bs that have opened within a couple of miles of that Fiesta within the last decade: the Montrose H-E-B on West Alabama that opened several years ago, and, more significantly, the MacGregor H-E-B at North MacGregor and 288 that just opened last fall.

The MacGregor H-E-B was certainly the nail in the coffin, as it siphoned off shoppers from both the Museum District and Third Ward that would have otherwise gone to that Fiesta. Whatever Fiesta's charms may be, it simply can't compete with what is now considered the nation's best supermarket chain.

Unfortunately, due to its location, that Fiesta also had a homeless problem. A fence had to be built around the parking lot to discourage loiterers and panhandlers.

Rice University owns the property on which the store sits. It will be interesting to see what takes its place.

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