Get ready northwest Dallas. 8:00 a.m. Wednesday morning, September 5, Central Market opened its newest location at Midway Road and Northwest Highway in Dallas. The store opening marks the company’s 10th location in Texas and third in the City of Dallas.
And this store is so much more than a grocery store.
Central Market is the luxury grocer division of H-E-B, founded in Austin in 1994 and often called “an amusement park for food lovers.” Over the past 24 years, Central Market has expanded to all major Texas Cities — Dallas (now three), Fort Worth, Plano, Southlake, Austin, Houston and San Antonio.
“We’re thrilled to open the doors of our newest location in this vibrant area of Dallas,” said Stephen Butt, president of H-E-B/Central Market Division, who was on hand for the Tuesday night neighborhood opening party and participated in a lot of the pre-opening events. “We’ve heard from loyal northwest Dallas customers for years who have asked for a Central Market location in closer proximity to their neighborhoods. The corner of Midway and Northwest Highway has long been a highly desirable location we have had our eye on for many years. Our team is excited to serve our friends and customers in the Bluffview, Devonshire, Preston Hollow, Midway Hollow, Greenway Parks and surrounding neighborhoods.”
The existing 42,000 square-foot store at Midway Road and Northwest Highway was once a Skaggs Alpha-Beta, then an Albertsons back when I shopped there. (We lived just north of Northwest Highway east of Inwood, and I frequented the area for shopping.) The store became Sun Fresh Market for a bit, but it has undergone a wall-to-wall gutting for its Central Market unveiling. The remodel took two years. The new store is stunning and will create a “triangle” of luxury food convenience for Uptown, Park Cities, Preston Hollow and North Dallas neighborhoods, cutting an east-west swath from Greenville Avenue to Midway Road.
The surrounding area is definitely upscale, not just to the east (Kent Rathbun, Don Henley and Mark Cuban live nearby) but to the west of Midway, now all the way to Marsh because of so much building in Midway Hollow and peripheral neighborhoods over the last 20 years. For an area where the median home price was once $350,000 for a 1950’s era ranch, the teardowns have produced 3,000 to 5,000 square foot homes fetching just over or close to a million.
And those homeowners were sure kicking the tires Tuesday evening.
Central Market remains very much a family store, with Stephen and his wife on hand to personally greet shoppers. They also invited Dean Fearing, who entertained with his band as he promoted his new sauces. The Midway store (only) will carry an exclusive line of Dean’s tortilla soup, condiments and dressings.
The serpentine flow of this store is similar to Lover’s Lane, but a bit larger. The store totals more than 50,000 square feet on two levels, including a beautiful community room and kitchen upstairs. New features exclusive to this Central Market only are: an eight foot specialty mushroom table with 18 varieties, an exclusive selection of curated red and white French burgundies (managers told us they bought the wine carefully over years and stored until the store was complete), specialty Bordeaux from the Loire Valley, new variety of Washington state apples, more than 100 varieties of Texas coffee roasters, old style New York bagels made fresh on site, specialty olive oils and vinegars, and 100 varieties of bronze-cut pasta.
This Central Market will also be the first to offer Curbside Service, whereby you order, CM gathers and charges, and you pick it up along the eastern edge of the store in a very organized car pool line. (CM will offer you a beverage and food sample, too.) The store is equipped to handle 400 orders a day. First four are free, after that it’s about a $5 charge per pick up. That Curbside service will also include beer and wine, a first for any CM, all for those living within a seven mile radius. There is also a huge floral department and another great concept, the personal gift basket desk, where you can hand-select personalized items for custom gift baskets, Central Market will put together and deliver.
Also here: many options for on-the-go beverages, casual but quick eating, a larger ready-made food center, bakery, the largest selection of craft ice cream in Texas, a hot chicken station (free-range chickens are grown hormone-free in Gonzalez, Texas) and so many in-house roasted meats I wouldn’t know where to begin.
The new store has also created 250 jobs in Dallas.
Central Market is a leader in making the selling of food an art form. Even looking at the displays is a beautiful experience, like being in an art gallery. Few outside of the U.S. could ever imagine that grocery stores would not just sell food for nourishment but also entertain, educate, and cultivate buyers. There will be more than 20,000 products to fret over, and a lot of locally created foods and sauces, such as Cappy McGarr’s F.N. Hot Salsa (“medium” or “hot” or habanero jelly).
You gotta try it!
The F.N. starts for “Forgetful Ned” (uh huh).
Cappy and Janie McGarr (his wife) are Dallas residents who once lived in the neighborhood. They built the home T. Boone Pickens had in Dallas. Here is how Robert Wilonsky described Cappy when he was back at the Dallas Observer:
Well, he runs McGarr Capital Holdings, based on Turtle Creek Boulevard. He’s a big-time giver to the Democrats’ top three presidential candidates and many, many other Dems running for office in recent years, among them Ron Kirk and Eddie Bernice Johnson. He’s also executive-produced the PBS specials honoring winners of the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor (including the 2004 show honoring Lorne Michaels), he’s been a Trustee of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts (as Bill Clinton’s appointee), he’s a member of the Council on Foreign Relations in New York, and he’s currently on the board of directors of The Foundation for the National Archives. Oh — and he’s former Dallas Mayor Annette Strauss and Ted Strauss’ son-in-law.
Cappy also says he is an entrepreneur, a raconteur, a roastmaster and a toastmaster. We are pretty sure his rolodex is golden. We know he worked at Goldman Sachs, hedge funds, Wall Street, all that. To that end, he was still out at Central Market Midway Tuesday evening in an apron, serving up and hustling his terrifically great salsa, talking about its namesake, “Ned”:
Ned said he created these recipes in his kitchen, although it might have been in someone else’s kitchen or somewhere else entirely. We aren’t really sure, and neither is Ned. But we do know they’re crafted with the finest peppers and hand-selected ingredients. And while consuming these fiery foods has affected Ned’s memory, we’re reasonably certain they won’t alter yours.
Cappy says Ned will donate 5% of annual profits to Special Operations Warrior Foundation, a foundation that ensures a fully funded college education to every child of a military special operator who loses their life in the line of duty. We think that’s pretty darn hot.