- The Roastery Coffee Kitchen, an new cafe brand owned by New York City based Four J Foods, will open four locations at H-E-B stores in Houston beginning next week, according to The Houston Chronicle. The first shop will open on October 17 at H-E-B's Bellaire Market and will be followed by a location at the grocer's Tanglewood store in mid-December. The next two stores will open at as-yet-unnamed locations in the Heights neighborhood in 2019. Each location will have a separate entrance.
- The 1,175-square-foot location at Bellaire Market will feature marble counters with chevron accents and stained concrete floors, community tables and flex seating. The coffees are sourced from Colombia, Honduras, Kenya, and Brazil then roasted in Houston. The cafe will also offer teas, wines by the glass and Texas-brewed beers. All of the coffees must pass a 10-point quality tasting checklist.
- The café is owned and operated by Jason Giagrande, a former VP of food operations at NBC Universal and Barnes & Noble. Matt Johnson, a native Houstonian, and graduate of Le Cordon Bleu is in charge of developing food offerings. The shop will feature options like turkey and espresso-rubbed roast beef sandwiches, an autumn quinoa salad, pastries and gelato. The second location in Tanglewood will feature a more extensive menu and full bar, according to Eater Houston.
The Roastery continues H-E-B's focus on foodservice and innovative partnerships as it looks to stand apart from competitors in the red-hot Texas grocery space.
The deal builds off a longstanding collaboration between Four J Foods and H-E-B. The companies have collaborated on menu development for roughly ten years, and Four J branded products have been available in H-E-B's Cooking Connection departments, which focus on culinary education.
The upscale coffee shop should feel familiar to existing customers while also driving in new customers who want to grab a cup of joe and then grab groceries. Unique coffee shops are extremely popular with younger crowds and for those constantly on the go. Research firm Mintel estimates coffee shop sales in the U.S. will grow from $23.4 billion last year to $28.7 billion by 2021 — driven primarily by innovative offerings and a desire for a unique experience.
Grocers' interest in coffee shops has been increasing recently. Stores long ago began putting Starbucks locations near their front ends, and now they're establishing their own brands and partnering with leading operators. In July, Kawha Coffee, an independent coffee shop local to Florida, announced it will expand to Publix locations across the Southeast.
For H-E-B, the partnership with The Roastery adds another dimension to its popular foodservice offerings. Earlier this year, the grocer unveiled a breakfast taco joint, True Texas Tacos, adding other dining brands like True Texas BBQ and South Flo Pizza.
The grocer just recently opened its two-level store in Bellaire, a relatively new concept for H-E-B. The location offers a wide range of products and services including curbside delivery, Texas-made products, an outdoor and indoor seating area, and an in-store restaurant Scratch Bakery and Tortilleria in addition to its Roastery coffee shop. By offering all of these products and services, H-E-B is squeezing every drop out of its investment in this store and drawing in customers along the way.
If H-E-B can continue to add in new aspects to its business like restaurants and coffee shops without losing focus on its grocery business, it could beat out competitors, especially as grocers are increasingly looking for new ways to drive in customers.