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H-E-B debuts in-store taco shop

Texas grocer’s latest food concept reflects “grocerant” trend

In another example of the “grocerant” trend, H-E-B has opened a taco shop inside a new convenience store in San Antonio.

Called True Texas Tacos, the restaurant features a menu of over a dozen freshly made breakfast and specialty tacos. Varieties range from traditional Tex-Mex offerings such as bacon-and-egg and bean-and-cheese tacos to barbacoa and chopped Texas brisket. Customers also can mix and match ingredients to create their own taco.

H-E-B said all flour tortillas are made in-house, and corn tortillas are available upon request. True Texas Tacos also has a salsa bar with spicy sauces and taco condiments. Tacos are served from 5 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday to Saturday and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sunday.

The 9,000-square-foot store, at Bulverde Road and Loop 1604, marks H-E-B’s 11th convenience store location. Open 24 hours, it has 20 fuel pumps, a car wash and a wide selection of wine and beer, including a walk-in beer cooler.

And complementing True Texas Tacos inside the store is another prepared food venue: South Flo Pizza. The outlet, H-E-B’s 10th, offers made-to-order pizza to go for $10. Hours are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily.

“We’re excited that our newest convenience store is filled with some terrific fare, from delicious tacos to on-point pizza,” said H-E-B spokeswoman Julie Bedingfield. “With our H-E-B convenience stores, we aim to offer our customers quality, value and convenience all under one roof.”

H-E-B’s other convenience stores are in Austin, Round Rock, Hutto, Mission, Kenedy, Floresville and Lytle, Texas, plus another three locations in San Antonio. Prepared food and restaurant offerings at some of these stores include fresh sushi, Whataburger, McDonald’s, Wendy’s and South Flo Pizza.

Besides True Texas Tacos and South Flo Pizza, restaurant and food-to-go concepts launched by H-E-B include 3 Double-O Nine Restaurant & Bar, Café Mueller by H‑E‑B, Oaks Crossing Restaurant & Bar, Table 620 Dining & Drinks, Yumai Sushi & Noodle Bar, Café at H‑E‑B, Café on the Run, Flaming Bird, Stackers Handmade Sandwiches and True Texas BBQ.

“This grocerant movement is likely driven by consumers' ever-busy lifestyles and a need for convenience,” Jennette Rowan, marketing director at the Food Marketing Institute, said in a blog post on Friday.

Full- and quick-service dining options inside supermarkets have become more common, she noted.

“H-E-B doubled down on its grocerant efforts by unveiling a new fast-casual concept, True Texas Tacos, which it opened in San Antonio,” Rowan wrote. “Other retailers have also amped up their restaurant efforts in recent years, such as Hy-Vee's partnership with Wahlburgers to build, own and operate Wahlburgers restaurants; Kroger's expansion of its new restaurant concept Kitchen 1883; and Whole Foods' additions of a whole slew of restaurant concepts to its locations across the country. Wegmans is one of the major pioneers of the grocerant, offering a kind of food court at most of its stores that houses a burger concept, coffee counter, pizza shop and other counter-service options.”

With retail grocery market competition escalating, restaurant and other prepared food concepts can provide a key point of differentiation, according to Rowan.

“Grocerants have emerged as a way to give shoppers a reason to keep coming back to your store, even if they can find the same grocery items at a lower price somewhere else,” she said in the blog.

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