H-E-B's Lake Austin store opens after pandemic delay
Texas grocery giant H-E-B opened a new, two-story supermarket on Lake Austin Boulevard on Wednesday. The store is the city’s first multilevel H-E-B.
Construction at the old Randall's at 2652 Lake Austin Blvd. began in October 2019, but was put on hold because of the pandemic.
After years of anticipation, nearby residents flocked to the store, including former NPR correspondent John Burnett and his wife, Margaret Justus.
“We have been watching the construction of this since they first broke ground and planning to be here on the first morning,” Burnett said Wednesday morning. “It’s going to be the center of our circle.”
The 97,000-square-feet store features two restaurants, a coffee shop, a pharmacy with a drive-thru, and an underground parking garage.
H-E-B's director of public affairs, Leslie Sweet, said the company attended several neighborhood meetings to ask residents what they envisioned for the store.
“They told us that we want it to be a gathering place. 'We want this to be a hub of our community,'” Sweet said. “With this store design, we're able to accommodate that request.”
The first floor has a pharmacy and a space serving as Lake Austin’s Coffee Spot from 7 to 10:30 a.m. and SouthFlo Pizza from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Shoppers can take escalators, including a special escalator for their carts, elevators or stairs to visit the second floor’s grocery level and Texas True BBQ.
Texas True BBQ, which was named the best barbecue chain by Texas Monthly in 2019, features a full bar with indoor and outdoor seating.
At the Cooking Connection station, customers can learn how to make new recipes from H-E-B chefs. Wine sampling is available, and the deli offers more than 150 cheeses and pre-made charcuterie boards.
Sweet said the company selected an underground parking garage to lessen the impact on the neighborhood. Wide sidewalks encourage customers to walk and bike to the store.
Austin resident Doug Gowland said he's happy the new store is on his regular walking path.
“I’m very excited to enjoy the H-E-B experience,” he said.
As no two H-E-B’s are completely alike, Sweet said, the Lake Austin store’s design is one-of-a-kind. The building features lots of windows allowing for natural light and vine-covered walls.
Burnett and Justus said they’re proud to support H-E-B because of how the company supports the community and its public schools.
H-E-B donated $5,000 each in gift cards to Casis Elementary School, Mathews Elementary School, O. Henry Middle School and Austin High School in celebration of its grand opening. The company also donated $5,000 each to the Central Texas Food Bank, Treefolks and Pop-up Birthday.
"We like what they do for the community and for the state,” Justus said.
H-E-B plans to employee more than 300 people at the Lake Austin store. With more than 400 groceries and 154,000 employees across Texas and Mexico, H-E-B is the largest privately held employer in Texas.