The transition is complete: Benjy's is no more, and Local Foods Market is the present and future.
Local Foods Market, a larger version of popular chain Local Foods that combines a grocery store and in-house dining, will open Tuesday at 2424 Dunstan Rd in Rice Village. In October 2020, owner Benjy Levit announced the end of Benjy's on the heels of closing Washington Avenue favorite The Classic.
The Rice Village space, now at 4,500 square feet, was fully redesigned by architect Michael Hsu and includes whitewashed wood booths, 1940s-inspired light fixtures, and pieces sourced from a Florida grocery store that was run by Levit's grandfather.
"Our Chefs have created an amazing menu featuring upscale ingredients for diners to enjoy in a casual atmosphere," said Levit in a press release. "We wanted to create a fun, wine-centric space with a laid-back vibe, a new way to highlight our great purveyors."
The market section will have expanded grocery offerings from small producers and curators across the country, from Houston Dairymaids cheese to local eggs and Texas beef. The second floor is partially devoted to a wine shop with harder-to-find and natural varieties on sale.
Since it's a Local Foods, visitors will also be able to order meals by counter and dine either inside or on a 50-seat outdoor patio. Takeout and delivery will also be available.
The food menu, executed by longtime Levit employees Maria Gonzalez and Mike Potowski, will spotlight proteins from places like Dozier's Meat Market and Thanh Tam Tofu in Bellaire. Look for dishes like chicken matzo ramen, beef pastrami, Texas wagyu, and roasted free-range heritage chicken. Draft wines, craft beer, and ciders, along with bottle options to-go, will also be available, and coffee lovers can expect a blend using Katz's Coffee.
Plus, Local Foods Market will have grab-and-go options, like Japanese-style egg salad, three-way sando with house-made milk bread, Texas buffalo meatloaf, and vegan sushi.
The market will be open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily, and for the first month it'll only allow for takeout and delivery. Dine-in will begin in March, and breakfast and brunch options will also be added in the future.
Further out, Levit is planning to open the first Austin Local Foods. He hopes to expand the brand statewide.
“I see it as another chapter and not something that’s finished,” Levit told Houstonia in October. “I think we’ve been successful with Local Foods, and this is part of the evolution of Local Foods.”