Rick and Georgia Bost aren't new to the grocery game. Their flagship store, Georgia's Farm to Market, has been a wild success since taking over the old Sandy's space in West Houston more than two years ago.
The Bosts kept much of the Sandy's model in place: organic foods, bulk spices and herbs, ready-made sandwiches and salads, a popular day-long buffet and plenty of locally raised meats were all still stocked when the Bosts took over.
They aren't new to the meat and produce game, either. That locally raised meat that Sandy's once sold was theirs, after all. The Bosts have been running Georgia's Texas Grassfed Beef for a dozen years and they helped found Urban Harvest, the vast network that now administers farmers markets across the city.
The duo also founded Texans for Urban Sustainability, which helped create the state's first organic certification program, back in 1992 -- so they're not new to the organics and sustainability movements, either.
The second location of Georgia's Farm to Market, says Rick Bost, was "always a dream of Georgia's." And after years of planning, it will finally be open tomorrow, January 27.
"It was always Georgia's dream to have a fully-integrated business where we knew where everything came from," said Bost of his wife's plans, which have finally come to fruition in the historic building at 420 Main. The Byrd Building, an art deco structure built by Joseph Finger in 1935, housed a department store when it first opened.
The history of the building is important to the Bosts, and Georgia's Market is decorated throughout with old photos of the building as well as scenes from Houston's past. And Georgia's Market is much more than just a grocery store.
The layout is split into four distinct sections: At the main entrance is a cafe area with seating and Georgia's famous all-day buffet. It opens at 6 a.m. daily, serving day-old yard eggs and nitrite-free sausage from Georgia's own ranch, among other things. A second-story seating section allows guests to watch the action in the kitchen or on the street.
The second half of the store is devoted primarily to groceries, from produce to cereals, and from dairy to bulk goods. There are even household cleaning products for sale. Much of the food that Georgia's carries is locally sourced, from Katz coffee to Karbach beer. Even the paint on the walls is local: It came from New Living, a Houston company that sells green building and decorating products.
Above the grocery area is another second-floor aerie, this one a reading loft. Comfortable chairs like those found in Barnes & Noble overlook plate glass windows onto the street. Books are stocked for guests to read, and Wi-Fi is offered for free. Bost was quick to note that you can also have a glass of wine or food up here as well; he hopes customers will settle in as if it were their own living room.
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And beneath it all lies the store's fourth area: The Cellar. This basement bar has a modern speakeasy feel to it, only enhanced by the fact that to get here you have to wind your way through tall shelves of pasta as if on your way to a secret passageway. The Cellar plans to kick off happy hours soon, starting each day at 4 p.m. and serving the same locally made microbrews and sustainable wines sold upstairs.
The store itself plans to be open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays, with Sunday hours still to be discussed. And although the ghosts of the now-defunct Byrd's Market still linger here, they'll all be blown away after tomorrow's grand opening: I have a feeling Georgia's is here to stay.