Whole Foods made Downtown Austin what it is today. There, I said it. Without an anchor grocery store Downtown Austin would never have come so far. The Market District wouldn’t exist. It helps that Whole Foods has a brand cache and a great shopping experience. Personally, I end up spending as much money at other grocery stores, so I don’t believe Whole Foods is over priced. And, as big as it is today, Whole Foods was at one time a small business in Austin.
When AMLI Downtown opened, Downtown Austin got its second grocer. George Scariano opened Royal Blue Grocery. It was an instant hit. Urban dwellers want to see more of those blue awnings around town. Anyone that’s lived in NYC will feel at home here. It’s a small bodega-style grocer that has a little bit of everything. Outside you’ll find a magazine rack, tables, and people enjoying the scene.
Recently, the city received design ideas for the Green Water Treatment facility on Cesar Chavez. One of the entries prominently rendered a two-story H-E-B as part of the retail mix. The first time I saw that rendering I was sold on the idea. I realized how nice it would be to have some choice. Don’t get me wrong, I love Whole Foods and Royal Blue, but there is a place for a “regular” grocery store. I’ll go a bit further and say that I’d like to see it along Congress Avenue.