Food News

H-E-B to Open First Store in Tarrant County, Still Absent in Dallas County

Tarrant County is getting an HEB.
Tarrant County is getting an HEB. Photo Courtesy of HEB
Whoever in Dallas County pissed off H-E-B, please go handle this. Send flowers. Apologize.

On Aug. 11, the best little grocery store in Texas announced its first Tarrant County store. The store will be located on 28 acres in Mansfield at the corner of U.S. 287 and Broad Street, about 10 miles south of Interstate 20 and Arlington. It's expected to open in early 2023.

This store is barely in Tarrant County, as if H-E-B is literally just dipping its toe to test the water. It's within a mile of the Johnson County line.

With 74,368 residents, Mansfield is the third-largest city in Tarrant County. The population was just 8,102 in 1980.

H-E-B began in 1905 as a small family-owned grocery store in Kerrville, "built on a $60 investment," per their website. It now has 420 stores throughout Texas and Mexico with sales exceeding $32 billion annually. The chain has gained popularity for its large produce department, local products, fresh tortillas and community engagement among other things (like its jalapeño pimento cheese).

“For years our residents have asked for an H-E-B, and on behalf of the City Council, we are proud to welcome this economic driver and much desired business to Mansfield,” Mayor Michael Evans said in a release. “With our growing economy and invested community, Mansfield is the perfect home for the first H-E-B location in southeast Tarrant County and we are excited about the continued economic growth coming to our city and the entire southeast Tarrant County region.”

A map of H-E-B stores planned in North Texas clearly illustrates a void in Dallas County. A big gaping hole, filled only with its pricier sister-concept Central Market stores in North Dallas. Southern Dallas County lacks both.

Residents of North Dallas will soon have an H-E-B store in Plano and several more farther north. But a resident of South Dallas would have to drive to Waxahachie, which is 28 miles from downtown.

Grocery stores are particularly needed in southern Dallas, which has long been a food desert with a lack of access to affordable and high-quality fresh food. Earlier this year we wrote about a meeting between southern Dallas residents and the Dallas City Council's Economic Development Committee to discuss the lack of grocery stores in areas south of downtown. Gary Huddleston, the Texas Retailers Association's grocery store consultant, spoke at the meeting and explained that because of an "extremely, extremely competitive" marketplace, sales models often determine where stores land.

In areas that don't prove to be profitable, shoppers usually either shop outside of their neighborhood or use online shopping models. Huddleston also said that when different price models of stores are built in lower-income, underserved areas, shoppers compare that store to stores in other areas, creating negative feedback.

We reached out to H-E-B about the possibility of a store between their current stores in Plano and the one in Waxahachie. Mabrie Jackson, senior director of public affairs for H-E-B, neither ruled it out nor made any commitments.

"We’re always looking to serve more Texans," Jackson wrote the Observer. "H-E-B has a vast portfolio of real estate across North Texas in Dallas, Denton, Tarrant, Rockwall, Kaufman and Collin counties as we often buy real estate in anticipation of future growth. We look forward to sharing the locations of other North Texas stores at a later date."
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Lauren Drewes Daniels is the Dallas Observer's food editor. She started writing about local restaurants, chefs, beer and kouign-amanns in 2011. She's driven through two dirt devils and is certain they were both some type of cosmic force.