It doesn't seem too long ago that The Fresh Market moved into Houston and took over four former Rice Epicurean locations—and, in fact, it wasn't. The North Carolina-based grocery chain opened its first Houston location in July 2013 at 2617 West Holcombe, and today announced its intention to pull out of Texas entirely less than three years later. This mirrors a move The Fresh Market made just last year, in which it exited the California market and closed all three stores in the state.
This time around, The Fresh Market is closing all four locations in Houston and five others across the state. Additionally, the grocer is pulling out of Kansas, Iowa and Missouri, closing a total of 13 underperforming stores. Employees were being informed of the closures today, sources tell us, which will be effective May 28. In addition to the West Holcombe store, The Fresh Market locations at 12516 Memorial Drive, 5016 San Felipe and 1519 West Bay Area Boulevard in Webster will all close on that date.
No word yet on what will happen with the vacant locations, though you can expect the Memorial Drive location to at least be snapped up quickly; the planned Memorial Green mixed-use development is currently transforming the previous green space across the street into a luxury community, which should ideally attract a big-name tenant to the strip center at Lantern Lane.
Meanwhile, Houston's famous grocery wars, brutal battles of attrition in the nation's toughest supermarket market, continue unabated.