The Stampede Towards Buffalo Market

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H-E-B is opening yet another new concept store in Houston, after finding success here with Central Market, H-E-B Pantry, Mi Tienda and the vast new 129,000-square-foot H-E-B at Bunker Hill and I-10. Buffalo Market, so called for its location along Buffalo Speedway at Bissonnet, will have its grand opening tomorrow -- August 5 -- at 6 a.m. after nearly five years in the making.

Those five years were spent purchasing the parcels of land -- which once held a Luby's, a Molina's and the old Buffalo Pharmacy -- and consulting with members of the local community before building the store itself. H-E-B met with groups like area mom clubs, HISD, Rice University and even the residents of the retirement community (The Terrace) located directly behind the store when trying to discover the community's needs. The result is a community-integrated store unlike anything else in Houston: The original, longtime pharmacists from the Buffalo Pharmacy have been transplanted into the Buffalo Market, even going so far as to retain home delivery service. And the senior citizens at The Terrace have their own private, gated entrance to the store.

While the 68,000-square-foot store may seem small in comparison to its larger sisters, its size seems ideal when considering the concept: a mixture of Central Market's offerings (like the popular Cafe on the Run) with an emphasis on fresh, organic produce with a standard grocery store side that allows you to pick up regular old Cheetos and toilet paper in the same trip. The aisles are wide, and the selection is vast for such a petite store. And the broad, gleaming windows let in remarkable amounts of light for such an energy-efficient store.

The store didn't go so far as to become LEED-certified (a long and brutal bureaucratic process if there ever was one), but has incorporated many LEED concepts. The butterfly roof collects rainwater and has reflective panels that deflect heat from the building. The Low E windows have a similar coating on them, which allows in light but not heat. Inside, similar efforts have been made to make the building as green as possible, such as motion sensor lighting in frozen food cases and energy-efficient heating and cooling systems.

Upon opening, the store will stock not only more than 900 kinds of fresh fruit and vegetables (100 varities of which are organic), 500 types of cheese, and 2,000 bottles of wine, but it will also feature vast fish and meat counters as well as a sushi bar and bakery with custom offerings. Sushiya will offer fusion sushi, while the bakery will bake bread fresh each day -- never using frozen dough -- and create elegant, party-ready cakes for a steal (most are under $30).

Over 500 varieties of cheese, y'all! I mean, come on!

​With all of this good news, there has to be some bad, though: Prepare for some seriously tight parking. Anticipating this, H-E-B will have its 300 employees park in an offsite lot, but the parking lot for the Buffalo Market still remains very small for the store. Lunchtime especially will be tough, since the popular Buffalo Grill shares a lot with the market. In this heat, our recommendation would be to go at night, when the Buffalo Grill has closed down for the day and you can at least haul your groceries out without breaking too much of a sweat.

For more pictures of the store, check out our slideshow.

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