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Greater Houston’s Food Town Marking 30th Anniversary

Houston Food Town

The Food Town grocery chain, which operates 29 stores in and around greater Houston, is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year.

In late 1993, a handful of grocers joined together to provide affordable access to national-brand products, quality meats and fresh produce throughout the metro area.

Lifelong grocer Ross Lewis and six employees opened the first Food Town on April 28, 1994, at 2040 South Richey St. in Pasadena. Two other locations opened the following month, with new stores following suit over time.

Houston Food Town
Co-founder Ross Lewis (right) and current President Mike Lewis (left)

The growth was the result of planning by a company dedicated to offering something better, said Mike Lewis, Ross Lewis’ son and the company’s president.

“These guys didn’t just have the grocery business in their blood, but they had Houston’s best interests at heart,” he said. “They put thought into everything from the prices they offered to where they did business.”  

The founders housed their stores in existing retail spaces, something which had lasting benefits for a community. In addition, they catered individual store inventories to suit the surrounding neighborhoods’ needs and preferences. 

That willingness to go above and beyond was a large part of the chain’s success, said Joe Valdez, Food Town’s grocery VP.

“Stocking niche products unique to certain locations isn’t necessarily the easiest or most efficient way to operate, but it sends a clear message to customers that we’re listening and we’re here to serve,” Valdez explained. “Those small touches build relationships.”

The company launched its Food Town+ mobile app in early 2020, while same-day delivery through Instacart was introduced in 2023. Curbside pickup, available at two locations, is rolling out one store at a time.

“We’re finding the right balance between uncomplicated, traditional shopping experiences and tools that draw younger generations,” said Billy Drews, meat division VP.

“You can access coupons online or in the app, or grab them off shelves in-store. Our grocers still write out signage by hand. It’s a mix of old and new, because every person’s experience matters.”

Houston Food Town
Company employees celebrating its second anniversary in 1996

Company officials look forward to celebrating the anniversary with customers through special markdowns and in-store events.

“Thirty years is something worth celebrating,” Drews said. “We want to get the customers involved because they’re as big a part of our story as our team is.”

Looking ahead, Mike Lewis said the plan is to continue providing quality products, low prices and special consideration to customers, while also seeking out ways to better serve communities. 

New locations may also join the mix, but Food Town will remain a family endeavor – and will remain planted in its hometown. 

“We’re proud of our Houston roots, and we have no plans of expanding outside of the place we know and love,” Lewis said.

“For three decades now, we’ve been the local grocer our friends and neighbors trust. That’s who we want to continue to be for many years to come.”

Read more independent store news from The Shelby Report.

About the author

Sommer Stockton

Web Editor

Sommer joined The Shelby Report in January 2022 after graduating from Brenau University in Gainesville, GA with a B.A. and M.A. in Communications and Media Studies. Sommer is excited to learn about the grocery industry and share her findings with The Shelby Report's readers!

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