News Article

Houston’s surprise new hotspot: Showy supermarket draws social swells, delivering grocery war shockw

By Shelby Hodge, CultureMap

Original Article

Master Sommelier Guy Stout stood tête-à-tête with famed chef Randy Evans as they once again went over the wine pairing menu just before the social swells started pouring in. The tables were graced with flowers and hostesses were ready to hand out Mardi Gras beads for the early evening celebration. All systems were go for a chichi affair.

But the gathering was in a most unexpected venue — a grocery store.

Not just any grocery store, mind you. Rather the new Tanglewood H‑E-B that has garnered more attention in recent weeks than H‑E-B honcho Scott McClelland could have imagined when he began plotting the chain’s biggest and best store.

Tuesday night’s wine tasting in the supermarket’s Table 57 restaurant saw the likes of Philamena and Arthur Baird, Ralph Burch and Linda Gale and Mark White pour in. In all, some 60 well-heeled neighbors from Tanglewood and Memorial arrived to schmooze in the most unusual of social settings.

They were treated to the full breadth of Alexander Valley Vineyards offerings with comments by winemaker Kevin Hall and personal time with proprietor Hank Wetzel.

It was the fourth special event held in the restaurant, which did not officially open — along with the supermarket — until Wednesday. There was a Sunday brunch for TH Rogers and Briargrove Elementary School teachers and principals. Executing the good neighbor policy, H‑E-B presented both of the schools with a $2,500 check. Then on Sunday night, Angie Light hosted a dinner party for young professionals in the area and on Monday night, Grace Kim hosted another seated dinner.

For the Tuesday fête, Evans oversaw preparation of various party foods that included his famous deviled eggs, Korean barbecue pulled pork sliders, fried oyster tostadas, gumbo shots and, for dessert, tres leches and marble fudge blondie bites. Guests such as Ellie and Michael Francisco and Terrie and Mike Turner approved.

Following the social events Scott McClelland and store manager Donna Theriot conducted tours through the 91,000 square foot grocery behemoth showing off the exceptionally wide aisles, the mega yogurt display, the case for dry aged beef, etc.