A few weeks ago, John Nova Lomax produced his "definitive list" of the local Kroger grocery stores that have nicknames. This practice is something I've tried to document a couple of times as well.
Of course, the most famous of Houston's nicknamed Krogers - Montrose's Disco Kroger - is no more, and Lomax is probably right with his prediction that H-E-B "will run Kroger out of Houston inside of ten years:"
I’ve never had as bad an experience with Kroger but I have a years-long beef with them over their sheer incompetence. I just don’t understand how such a behemoth of a grocery chain can allow its clock to be cleaned so easily and thoroughly by a regional rival, even one as sharp and savvy as HEB is. Why doesn’t Kroger poach some of HEB’s talent? Why don’t they stock their shelves with things Texans like? Why don’t they make the slightest effort to adapt aside from bells and whistles and inflating floor space? The stubborn incompetence offends me , as does their belief that all Americans eat alike.
Anyway….at one point, they had enough of a hold on the Houstonian psyche to spawn folk nicknames.
Here are a few stores from Lomax's list, with my comments:
Cougar Kroger - West Gray, and not because of proximity to UH. With the aging of its clientele, this Kroger’s name has followed along, going from variations on “Hot Babe Kroger” to “MILF Kroger” to its current status. Less sexist or horny observers call it Deco Kroger for its black-tiled facade. I am hereby predicting this is the next Kroger to go bye-bye.
I personally favor "Deco Kroger" for this store, although "Hot Mom Kroger," "Posh Kroger" and "River Oaks Kroger" are other names I've heard used to describe it. About a dozen years ago they tried to name themselves as "Hollywood Kroger," apparently not understanding that Krogers don't get to choose their own names. It's an organic process!
Combat Kroger - Cullen & Polk. Gentrifying but still scruffy environs give it the name. This is a minimal effort Kroger that does little to cater to its Hispanic and/or hipster customers.
I used to regularly shop at Combat Kroger when I lived near the University of Houston; now I can't tell you the last time I've been in there. I always remember it as being poorly stocked and poorly managed, although they did try to spruce it up a few years back.
Geriatric Kroger - 20th & Yale. Could also be Rendezvous Kroger. Nobody you or your downlow honey knows is ever in here (unless it’s Tim Freeman) even though it’s right there in the Heights proper. It was dry until a couple of years ago but it now sports a paltry beer and wine section. *themoreyouknow*
I've never heard this one referred to as anything other than "Zombie Kroger." That being said, I don't think I've ever shopped at this particular store.
Try Hard Kroger - Buffalo Speedway. This is the one Kroger where they make an effort and almost rivals an HEB. The name fits the ‘hood — West U is an American Mecca of Try Hardism — as well as the ethos of the store. It’s like Kroger and West U have a mutual admiration society — Kroger really wants to impress West U, and the hell with the rest of us. Not even River Oaks gets such a spectacular Kroger.
Gonna disagree with Lomax on this one. This is the Kroger I shop at (when I'm not shopping at the H-E-B on the other side of Buffalo Speedway), and they do not "try hard." The store might have have a nice deli and an impressive beer and wine selection, but it is almost always understaffed (especially at the checkouts; in fact, at certain times of the day or night you're almost required to use the self checkout kiosks), and its produce section always seems poorly-stocked. I can't count the number of times I've gone there to find them out of basic vegetables like green onions, celery or broccoli.
Anyway, I've always called this one "Buffalo Kroger." Other names I've heard for this particular store are "West U Kroger, " and "Spanish Kroger," referencing the architecture of the shopping center in which it is located.
Quiet Storm Kroger - Old Spanish Trail. East side of the Med Center on OST at Cambridge…Though it had a very mellow, distinct ‘80s feel, it was built in 1994, and now I see it was demolished in 2017. (EDIT: I have since read it was built in the ‘80s and passed through phases as a Safeway and an Apple Tree before Kroger got the property in ‘94.)
I called this one "Medical Kroger" when it was still open. It was clearly on its way out the last time I shopped there, which I think was 2015.
Further to the west, where Kirby crosses OST and South Main, is "Stadium Kroger" or "Tailgate Kroger" due to its proximity to NRG Stadium. Lomax doesn't have a name for this one, and I used to call it "Does-Anybody-Really-Shop-Here Kroger" because it always seemed deserted.
Yet it remains in business.