For more than two months, H-E-B has been making adjustments big and small to its stores due to the coronavirus. Now that shopping restrictions have started to lift and new store procedures are in place, the San Antonio-based grocery is picking up where it left off on several new Austin-area stores.
This week, the store announced that the newest Austin location, 8801 S. Congress Ave. near the northwest corner of Interstate 35 and Slaughter Lane, will open on June 10.
The company had planned to close a nearby store at William Cannon and South First Street in early April, but that store has remained open during the coronavirus pandemic. Store officials said that store will close on June 5, with many employees shifting to the new store or other nearby locations.
The 130,000-square-foot supermarket, which also will include an in-store barbecue restaurant called True Texas BBQ, is part of a $200 million expansion into several stores in South Austin.
The store at Oltorf Street and South Congress Avenue was slated to close in March to make way for a new state-of-the-art H-E-B to be built on the same property, but the closure and subsequent rebuild have been postponed indefinitely, due both to the coronavirus and some previously announced construction issues.
Leslie Sweet, H-E-B director of public affairs, said the South Congress/Oltorf store will move forward with construction "when we are certain our plan offers the dynamic and innovative shopping experience our loyal and deserving South Congress customers will be proud of for decades to come.
"In the coming months, H-E-B will take a fresh look at the design to ensure it meets evolving shopping patterns and customer expectations as a result of COVID-19, as well as achieves the company's own high standards."
H-E-B said it doesn't have a new timeline for the design and construction of the new store. The existing South Congress H-E-B will remain open to serve customers until construction starts.
A temporary store located catty corner from the existing store was scheduled to open in March, but the signs for that store are currently covered up and H-E-B has not said when the transition into the temporary store will take place.
Construction at the 90,000-square-foot Oak Hill store on the southeast corner of U.S. 290 and FM 1826 will start this summer with plans to open in 2021, and plans remain on track for the H-E-B Lake Austin on Exposition and Lake Austin, which is still expected to open in 2021. In curbside news, the H-E-B at North Lamar and Rundberg opened its curbside pickup operation on May 8.
Sweet said that the usual fanfare that accompanies a new store will be reduced because of continued COVID-19 risks, but that in celebration of the Slaughter Lane store opening, the company is donating more than $100,000 to local nonprofit organizations and schools. That includes $50,000 to Treefolks for a new watering truck to support planting and restoration projects across Central Texas. Three surrounding schools will receive $15,000 in gift cards to support back-to-school efforts.