Trader Joe's Has Its Eye on Alabama: Alabama Theater to Be Reborn as Grocery Store

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The Chronicle's real estate reporter Nancy Sarnoff got the scoop today that grocery chain Trader Joe's -- after much speculation -- has its sights set on redeveloping the old Alabama Theater on West Alabama near Shepherd. The currently vacant building would be the first Trader Joe's in Houston, and the second in Texas.

In the proposal to the City of Houston that Sarnoff obtained, Weingarten Realty and Trader Joe's outline their ideas for retrofitting the old structure, including new signage out front and above the rear entrance (above). The proposal also includes plans for much-needed updates such as new sliding glass doors and a corral for shopping carts, without sacrificing the historic integrity of the building, which was first built as a theater in 1938.

The site has been rumored as a possible location for the grocery store for several reasons: The proximity to neighborhoods such as River Oaks, West University and Montrose -- all of which are home to Trader Joe's target demographic -- and a surplus of available parking both made the Alabama Theater a strong contender. And the historic building itself fits with Trader Joe's model of being "your unique grocery store."

We guess this means that Weingarten won't be razing the old Alabama Theater after all. And fan or not, you can't help but thank Trader Joe's for that.



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21 comments
Eric Henao
Eric Henao

Now I will finally be able to do all the @brokeassgourmet recipes in exactatude! She shops from TJ in California! #traderjoes #houston

Wendy
Wendy

finally....I am so excited about Trader Joe's coming to Houston. We have been bring things in from Wisconsin.....

Cannot wait!!!!!!wm

Angel Kirk
Angel Kirk

SO I FINALLY GET TO SEE WHAT THE FUSS IS ABOUT

jack
jack

Love Trader Joe's!!  Hope they come to Houston. 

mikhastur
mikhastur

I love trader joe's and am so excited about the location choice.  can't happen fast enough to suit me.

Jim Ayres
Jim Ayres

Glad to hear this and also glad I'll get the glow from the tower sign in my apartment!

Jeff
Jeff

Whole Foods did really well in what is now the Petco (or Petsmart...what's the difference?) for many years. I shopped there and hit the Bookstop quite a few times back in the day.

Nicholas L. Hall
Nicholas L. Hall

Plenty of parking available, and a really respectful design. I worked at Bookstop for years, and have been deeply concerned about the fate of the building. From what I can see, the intention is really to honor the original building. I do, however, have some concerns about the interior design, as it's tough to tell what the plans there are. I really hope they leave things like the murals, the ceiling fixture, and the stage space as they are. Ditto with balcony and mezz spaces. While I might have preferred other uses be explored further, I'll be very happy to have a tennant move in and take care of the space.

GlenW
GlenW

Ok, you're right. The old building won't be demolished. Good. But I can't afford to shop at TJ's anymore than I can Whole Foods.

Ken D.
Ken D.

and where are the crowds going to park? 

ArchieLeach
ArchieLeach

My thoughts exactly, Angel. 

I'm gonna stick to Central Market though.  :)

rubbercow
rubbercow

Dude, when did you work at Bookstop?  I also worked there.

mikhastur
mikhastur

you should reserve judgment, glen.  TJ's sells things that you can find at whole foods and a fraction of their price there.  and many other staples like dried fruits & nuts, oils, vinegars & maple syrup at rock bottom prices for top quality.

Pedub71
Pedub71

Trader Joe's is cheap.  1lb Cheerios- $1.99, Wine-$1.99, Potato Chips-$1.79  and much more.  I used to think it was expensive.

Nicholas L. Hall
Nicholas L. Hall

Full time 2000-2005, part time 2005(may on)-2008. My older brother worked there before me, around 98 on, and my younger brother worked there for a while, too. Lots of good memories.

rubbercow
rubbercow

Ah, The Mike Gunn!  Awesome!  Great place to work!  Thanks for the little stroll down memory lane!

Nicholas L. Hall
Nicholas L. Hall

Very familiar with Project Grimm, and John's earlier band, The Mike Gunn. I count John as a good friend, and have very fond thoughts about the rest of the motley crew that worked there over the years. I've often thought about writing about about the store, the characters, and the exceedingly strange episodes that pepper its history. Interesting place to work, no?

rubbercow
rubbercow

Not Cross-Dressing Larry!  I know all of the others very well and was happy to be able to actively seek out and hire "unique" people and not forcing them to fit into a culture that they were really not interested in.  I suppose Jim is still there (I have been living in Dallas for a few years now).  Cramer is awesome - very, very smart guy and very funny.  If you are not familiar with it you should try and find any music made by Project Grimm (named after S. Grimm who also worked there).  Interesting stuff that he and John did.

Nicholas L. Hall
Nicholas L. Hall

I'd say you were Cross-Dreasing Larry, but he left suddenly when I was there. Bet you know Cramer, Stephanie, One-Eyed Jim, and others, though.

rubbercow
rubbercow

Oh well, I was before your time (all of you).  I was the manager there until 1996 or so when I made a somewhat "sudden" exit (learned a valuable little lesson there).  Really enjoyed my time in that store and have high hopes that the building can continue.  I was there when the addition took place and it revealed some really cool little crawl spaces and such.  I have long feared the building would be demolished.  Great building and great people - sorry I missed you and your bros.

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