Restaurant News

Buffalo Grille Migrating; Has H-E-B Become The New Bad Guy?

As reported earlier this week by the West University Examiner and Swamplot, the Buffalo Grille will be leaving its longtime location at 3116 Bissonnet. The popular restaurant has been a staple in the West University community for more than 26 years, serving simple American fare and excellent breakfasts.

The news doesn't come as a shock to anyone who's seen the state of the parking lot that the Buffalo Grille shares with its new neighbor, H-E-B's Buffalo Market. When the H-E-B store was being constructed, the large plot of land it occupies saw Luby's and Molina's disappear and a rather small parking lot with a giant grocery store erected in their place. Only the Buffalo Grille remained as the sole tenant of what was once a busy and popular dining destination along this stretch of Bissonnet and Buffalo Speedway. Parking has now become incredibly difficult to come by, whether you're trying to shop at H-E-B or dine at Buffalo Grille. And this seems to be the main reason for the move.

As Swamplot points out, the owners of the land that houses the Buffalo Grille and the new H-E-B are none other than the parents of the man who owns the Buffalo Grill itself, John MacAleer. Mac and Betty MacAleer rented the land to H-E-B to construct its new concept store (you can read more here), with a lease for the Buffalo Grille included as well. That lease expires in March 2011, which is when the Buffalo Grille expects to close up and move elsewhere.

But exactly where the restaurant will move is a bit of a mystery. The owners, understandably, want to stay in West University and continue to serve their patrons. That's easier said than done, however, as finding available real estate in the space-constrained boundaries of the area is difficult at best. Molina's -- one of the two previously displaced restaurants -- is still looking for a site for its new restaurant, making the possibility that Buffalo Grille could stay closed for quite some time a strong one.

An interesting side note to this ordeal is the rising tide of anti-H-E-B sentiment, a rare backlash against the Texas company. Peoples' main complaints center around the displacement of popular restaurants and the destruction of the community around those establishments as well as the horrendous parking and traffic situations that have cropped up on Buffalo Speedway. Not all the shoppers who patronize the Buffalo Market H-E-B are West University residents -- after all, this is one of the rare Inner Loop H-E-B stores -- and that fact seems to play a large role in the anger that many residents are directing towards the company.

And with its planned move to the former site of the Wilshire Village apartment complex -- one which Montrose residents fought hard to save, and are still fighting hard to see turned into a park -- H-E-B looks as though it's far from interested in saving face with Inner Loop residents.

Move over Weingarten; Houston might have a new bad guy to blame for ruining their neighborhoods.

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Katharine Shilcutt