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Massive new Meyerland H-E-B keeps kosher in grand, 2-story space

January 28, 2020

H-E-B’s new Meyerland Market will make its debut Wednesday, January 29, at 6 am. Located in the Meyerland Plaza shopping center at 4955 Beechnut St., the store replaces a smaller H-E-B that closed after it flooded during Hurricane Harvey.

Like its corporate siblings in Bellaire and The Heights, the Meyerland store is a two-story affair that covers 95,000 square feet. Being more than four times larger than the store it replaces has allowed H-E-B to increase its offerings in the neighborhood, especially when it comes to kosher items.

While the recent closure of Belden’s has left a gap in the market for grocery stores that cater to kosher-keeping Jewish people, the new H-E-B is poised to replace and build on what Belden’s offered. During a media preview on January 27, Meyerland Market general manager Hugh Sintic rattled off the kosher offerings, which include:

  • 24 feet of fresh kosher meat — chicken, beef, veal, and lamb — all of which is cut on-site
  • 24 feet of kosher dairy
  • 72 feet of kosher dry goods ranging from snacks to matzo
  • 14 doors of kosher frozen foods
  • 12 feet of kosher wines
  • Fresh and preserved kosher seafood, including sushi and smoked fish
  • An on-site kosher bakery that produces pareve bagels, breads, cakes, and tortillas
  • A kosher produce production room for cold-pressed juices, guacamole, cut fruit, and more.

H-E-B worked with the Houston Kashruth Association to develop protocols that will keep the store in compliance with all the religious restrictions involved in selling kosher products. For example, utensils used in the preparation of kosher foods have different colored handles than those used for non-kosher items to ensure the two are never accidentally mixed up.

The store employs three mashgiachs who will supervise all aspects of kosher production; they are the only employees permitted to enter the kosher butchering room. Even The Roastery, the coffee shop and cafe created by four New York chefs that operates at newer H-E-Bs across the city, will feature kosher coffee, snacks, and sandwiches that the store developed specifically for this location.

Juan Alonso, H-E-B’s regional vice president for Houston, explains why the company went to such great lengths to make the store welcoming to its Jewish customers. He compares the Meyerland Market’s focus to Mi Tienda, H-E-B’s Hispanic-oriented grocery store that has two Houston-area locations.

“It’s a pocket that we’ve got: 11 synagogues in a 4-mile radius,” he says. “Why wouldn’t you [add kosher facilities]? We thought to fit the needs of this consumer we would need to do these different things.

“I would think if we didn’t do this, living a kosher lifestyle, I would be hurt.”

Of course, the store also caters to gentile customers. Specifically, it sells non-kosher proteins such as pork and shellfish, as well as H-E-B’s full line of Meal Simple heat-and-serve dishes.

Dairy cases feature cheeses and cremas designed to appeal to customers with roots in Central and South America. The produce department features 800 items, with a focus on organic selections and soy items for vegans.

Oenophiles will find H-E-B’s second-largest selection of wines in the Houston-area, with over 2,000 different labels — everything for $10 patio sippers to a $1,700 Bordeaux. The store’s wine stewards will offer tastes of select bottles via a system that uses argon gas to keep them fresh.

“We want to serve everyone,” Alonso says. “We want to serve the customers at Walmart, we want to serve the customers who shop Kroger. We want to serve them with our fresh products, great service, and a great store.”

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