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Texans don't exactly need national rankings to know we're the best, especially when it comes to one of the top sources of state pride, H-E-B. Still, a little affirmation never hurts, and the San Antonio-based supermarket has just earned a new accolade among the best pharmacies in the U.S. for customer satisfaction.

This is the second consecutive title for H-E-B Pharmacy, which also earned the No. 1 spot in last year's J.D. Power ranking. Measuring customer satisfaction with brick-and-mortar and mail order pharmacies, the J.D Power U.S. Pharmacy Study uses data analytics and consumer intelligence based on responses from 12,142 pharmacy customers.

“This award illustrates a true team effort among all H-E-B Pharmacy Partners and is a direct result of everyone’s hard work, leadership and dedication to the health and wellness of our customers and communities throughout Texas,” said Craig Norman, R.Ph., H-E-B senior vice president, pharmacy.

And it wasn't just one category, either. H-E-B’s overall satisfaction swept all seven performance areas the study used to rate brick-and-mortar supermarkets, including:

  • No. 1 in people
  • No. 1 in time and cost savings
  • No. 1 in pharmacy trust
  • No. 1 in resolving problems or complaints
  • No. 1 in digital channel offerings (website, mobile app, text)
  • No. 1 in pharmacy offerings meet customer needs (medication and health/wellness services)
  • No. 1 in customers’ ability to get prescriptions how/when they want.

H-E-B has almost 290 pharmacy locations in Texas. In addition to providing prescription solutions at low prices, H-E-B Pharmacies also offer conveniences such as same-day prescription delivery, auto refills, health screenings, adult and child immunizations, compounding services, specialty pharmacy, nutrition services, and pet medications.

Photo courtesy of H-E-B

H-E-B carts out new home decor and furniture for San Antonio shoppers

Milk, Bread, Eggs, Accent Chair

Milk, bread, eggs … accent chair? Beginning this month, some H-E-B shoppers in San Antonio and New Braunfels can pick up home goods and furniture along with their groceries.

On July 14, the San Antonio-based grocer announced the launch of two home decor lines under the new Home by H-E-B department. The two new brands — Haven + Key and Texas Proud — promise “hundreds of items” for shoppers, according to a release, including “timeless woven textiles, inspiring décor, and versatile furniture and accent pieces.”

Each line has its own distinct style. With its modern, sleek aesthetic, Haven + Key rivals Target’s Hearth & Hand with Magnolia, the smash-hit product line the mega-retailer developed with Joanna and Chip Gaines. Midcentury-inspired leather chairs, blond wood accents, gold-trimmed mirrors and objets d’art, and neutral pillows are just a handful of the home goods ready for browsing.

Texas Proud is just that: goods designed to remind us how proud we are of Texas.

“The Texas Proud collection will celebrate the bold and distinctive style of Texas, bringing home the iconic spirit of the Lone Star State. The line will feature items such as wood and antler art, leather goods, cowhide benches and candles,” H-E-B says in a release.

The retailer also notes that many of the products are designed right here in Texas, and features accents like crosses, "Come and Take It," and Texas flag wall hangings.

San Antonio-area shoppers are among the first to peruse the new collections, now available at the H-E-B plus! at Hwy. 281 and Evans Road and the three-month-old New Braunfels location, which became the first H-E-B in the state to offer the Home by H-E-B department when it opened in April 2022.

(The New Braunfels Home by H-E-B department is more than 2,500-square-feet and houses more than 500 pieces, so if shoppers are serious about sprucing up their interiors, it might be worth renting a U-Haul and heading to that location.)

“At H-E-B, we’re always looking for ways to offer an unique, quality shopping experience, and Home by H-E-B is another way we’re able to better meet the needs of Texans,” says Sabina Israelian-Garcia, H-E-B Group Vice President of General Merchandise, Drug Store and Beauty, in the July 14 release.

Along with Alamo City, Haven + Key and Texas Proud are currently only available in Corpus Christi and Brownsville, as well as Burleson, a suburb of Fort Worth. The retailer adds it has hopes to offer the Home by H-E-B departments in 25 stores across Texas this year, specifically citing the new stores in Frisco and Plano.

Currently, both collections are available only in those five locations and can be purchased in-store or via the H-E-B app or website for curbside or delivery options.

The launch of Home by H-E-B and the Haven + Key and Texas Proud lines are the latest innovations for the South Texas retailer, which also owns Central Market. In recent years, H-E-B has dramatically increased its curbside and delivery services, continued the rollout of its award-winning Texas True BBQ restaurant, and has continued its expansion to the farthest reaches of the Lone Star State.

More recently, it launched a multimillion-dollar fund to build a new elementary school in Uvalde following May's devastating mass shooting. Even its strategy during the pandemic was lauded as one of the most thoughtful corporate responses in the U.S., proving once again that it’s H-E-B’s world, we’re just living in it.

The new collection is available in two San Antonio-area stores, though the retailer hopes to have it in 25 locations by the end of the 2022.

Photo courtesy of H-E-B
The new collection is available in two San Antonio-area stores, though the retailer hopes to have it in 25 locations by the end of the 2022.
Courtesy of H-E-B

H-E-B establishes $10 million donation to rebuild Uvalde's Robb Elementary

H-E-B for Uvalde

After the tragedy in Uvalde last month, H-E-B did what it does best, stepping up to help Texans in need. Beyond announcing a $500,000 donation for victims and their families, the grocery chain deployed its disaster relief trucks to the South Texas town to provide meals, supplies, and further recovery resources in partnership with local nonprofits for the people of Uvalde. But the store isn't stopping there: H-E-B this week announced a new donation to help rebuild Robb Elementary, where the massacre took place.

Built in the 1960s, the elementary school serves approximately 538 students in grades second through fourth. The school has been permanently closed since the events on May 25, 2022, and plans are in place to demolish the building so that no students or staff ever have to return to the site of the tragedy.

In a news release, the Butt family and H-E-B announced they will commit $10 million to help build a new elementary campus in Uvalde. Longtime supporters of public education, the Butt family and H-E-B,will work as founding donors with other stakeholders and organizations on the development of this project.

Texas firms Huckabee and Joeris General Contractors, which are also founding donors, have also made generous commitments to donate their services and time to this project, which will help the children, families, staff and Uvalde CISD community move forward together.

“Our first store in Uvalde opened in 1959, and Uvalde people are our people,” said Charles Butt, H-E-B’s Chairman, in the release. “As we continue to mourn tremendous loss, I join with my family and H-E-B in working to ensure the Uvalde community can move forward from this tragic event. Our children are this country’s future, and our schools should be a safe place where children can thrive and envision new possibilities.”

According to the release, the new campus will significantly enhance educational offerings, implementing state-of-the-art safety and security measures and infrastructure to support the availability of new technology. The location and design of the new campus and timeline for the project have not been determined, but the school district will work closely with the Uvalde community, donors, and other stakeholders to solicit ideas and gather feedback for the project.

For those who would like to join the effort, contributions to support this project can be made by donating to the Uvalde CISD Moving Forward Foundation, a nonprofit charitable organization established to both raise funds for the new elementary campus and support the immediate and ongoing financial needs of Uvalde CISD. Donations can be made by visiting UvaldeCISDMovingForward.org.

"We will never forget those who were senselessly taken from us on that tragic day," says Uvalde CISD Superintendent Dr. Hal Harrell on the Moving Forward website. " ... we want to honor their legacy as we work to build our future."

Courtesy of H-E-B

H-E-B's new brand of green products will benefit Texas Parks & Wildlife

H-E-Being Green

In its ongoing mission to take care of Texans, H-E-B has announced a new retail initiative that will support that commitment for generations to come.

Last year, the company revealed products from Field & Future by H-E-B, a new environmentally minded line of household, personal care, and baby products designed to be clean and green. Now, the retailer is using its new brand to benefit longtime partner, Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation (TPWF), by supporting their efforts to help conserve and protect Texas.

“Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation is excited about our new partnership with H-E-B. This Texas company will donate a portion of all sales proceeds from its Field & Future line of sustainable products to support our efforts to conserve the state’s wildlife, habitat and natural resources,” TPWF Chairman Mike Greene tells CultureMap.

The retailer and the wildlife foundation are longtime partners, and this new initiative will aid coastal conservation efforts, as well as Black Bear restoration in West Texas and the establishment of the state’s newest park, Palo Pinto Mountains, which opens in North Texas next year.

“H-E-B is an iconic Texas company, and this new partnership with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation, our official non-profit partner, is incredibly exciting,” said TPWF Executive Director Carter Smith in an April 5 release. “It’s fitting that the Field & Future line of products will benefit conservation projects across Texas, and we’re deeply grateful for this new partnership.”

There are nearly 100 Field & Future by H-E-B items on shelves across Texas already. Products range from dish soap to bath tissue; baby diapers; and trash bags, which are made from 65 percent post-consumer recycled plastic from H-E-B facilities.

The line features the How2Recycle label, which is found on more than 1,700 other H-E-B branded items. The grocery chain joined the How2Recycle program last year, placing clear and easy-to-read labels on products so customers can know if and how to recycle product packaging.

“We know H-E-B and our customers have a shared commitment in protecting the land, water, and air of Texas for generations to come,” said Winell Herron, H-E-B Group Vice President of Public Affairs, Diversity and Environmental Affairs in the release.

Since 2012, H-E-B has contributed more than $20 million to over 500 environmental organizations in land and water conservation, habitat and coastal preservation, and community cleanups. This includes giving more than $2 million in grants to organizations such as Keep Texas Beautiful, Texas Conservation Fund, and the Nature Conservancy in Texas.

Misha's

San Antonio Central Market boards vegan train with celebrity-backed cheese

Vegan News

There's a vegan cheese in town and it's kind of a big deal. The cheese is from Misha's, a Los Angeles-based company that makes what they claim is the best dairy-free cheese on the market, and it's making its debut at Central Market.

Misha's does a spreadable cheese flavored with herbs and spices. Central Market will carry the following six flavors:

  • Lox — dill, capers, carrots
  • French Connection — herbs de Provence, grains of paradise, black olives
  • Smoked Cheddar — smoked paprika, chipotle
  • Sari — sundried tomatoes, garlic, cilantro
  • Seven Point Five — jalapeno, habanero, strawberries
  • Black Truffle — black truffle, shallots

Previously, Misha's was available only on the West Coast and online. The new partnership with Central Market brings Misha's to Texas' seven top cities, including Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, San Antonio, Southlake, and Plano. Five of those cities have CultureMap bureaus, so Misha's is on to something.

Central Market has been less quick to embrace vegan foods than other chains like Sprouts and Kroger's. But Misha's possesses extra assets: They're Black-owned and have a celebrity backing buzz from a group that includes Jay-Z and NBA All-Star Chris Paul.

Misha's cheese is made from cashew and almond milk, the most common ingredients used to make vegan cheese. And the cheese is spreadable, versus firm. Spreadable vegan cheese is far easier to make than firm vegan cheese — a lesson Misha's cofounders learned early in the game, as they told medium:

The first product we launched was an aged, sliceable cheese. It was fairly complicated to produce, and package and it was a bit volatile. One night, right as we were preparing for the next day's farmers market, it got the best of us. Our refrigerators failed and the cheese didn't set up properly. Ian and I looked at each other nearly defeated… all that time, all that effort, all that money… and then, almost in unison we said 'let's sell it as spreadable cheese!' Less time, less energy, cheaper to make and package."

Founders chef Ian Martin and Aaron Bullock, who began operating in 2018, have an unusual background for cheesemakers: They were previously in the music and entertainment industry. But Martin had begun exploring raw vegan cooking, and worked with two well-known raw vegan names: Matthew Kenny and Juliano's Planet Raw. Bullock, meanwhile, had an interest in naturopathic medicine and had opened a clinic.

They've earned backing by Marcy Venture Partners: Jay Brown and Jay-Z, Pendulum Holdings: Robbie Robinson, Lisa Shamus, and 11-time NBA All-Star Chris Paul, and hope to reimagine the dairy aisle not only with their non-dairy cheese, but also other products such as milk, butter, and yogurt.

Emphasizing the gourmet/health vibe seems to make vegan food easier for foodies to swallow than the whole inconvenient "humane concern for animals" angle. Misha's is also certified and licensed in California as a Dairy Company, which allows them to legally use the word "Cheese."

Assets such as these have earned them attention on food websites such as Food 52 — and now a spot on the shelves of Central Market's 10 stores.

"With Austin, Houston and Dallas all consistently named most friendly for plant-based consumers, expanding into Texas is a perfect next move for Misha’s," Bullock says in a release. "We're a purpose-driven and community-focused company that believes in spreading kindness and committed to lifting as we climb. We're proud to join hands with the great people of Texas."

Photo courtesy of Kroger

National grocery chain carts out new delivery service across San Antonio

Getting food fast

Kroger, the country’s biggest traditional grocery chain, is treading on the home turf of San Antonio-based H-E-B with a new grocery delivery service in the San Antonio and Austin areas.

Kroger won’t open any stores for this expansion. Rather, Kroger will deliver groceries stored at new distribution centers in San Antonio and Austin. Each facility is expected to employ about 160 people.

These new facilities will be served by a 350,000-square-foot Kroger grocery hub in Dallas. The Northeast San Antonio facility will encompass 67,000 square feet, and the Northeast Austin facility will measure 70,000 square feet. Van drivers will be able to deliver groceries within 90 miles of each facility.

Cincinnati-based Kroger is set to kick off grocery delivery in the San Antonio and Austin areas later this year. This service will compete with the likes of H-E-B’s Austin-based Favor delivery platform, Walmart, Amazon/Whole Foods, and Instacart.

The company’s growing delivery network “is enabling Kroger to create thousands of technology, operations, logistics, and customer-care jobs and improve access to fresh food in cities eager for the variety and value offered by Kroger that once could only be accessed through our stores,” Gabriel Arreaga, Kroger’s senior vice president and chief supply chain officer, says in a new release.

Kroger operates more than 200 stores in Texas, including in the Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston areas. The company, with almost 2,800 stores in the U.S., posted sales of nearly $138 billion in 2021.

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CultureMap Emails are Awesome

San Antonio suburb among the richest places in Texas for 2023, plus more top stories

Hot Headlines

Editor’s note: It’s that time again — time to check in with our top stories. Here are five articles that captured our collective attention over the past seven days.

1. San Antonio suburb cashes in among the richest places in Texas for 2023. Alamo Heights has been renamed the third richest place in Texas for 2023 in a recent study.

2. San Antonio home sales slowed in December 2022, report finds. San Antonio sold 36,477 homes all year, a 10 percent decrease from 2021.

3. Here are the top 5 things to do in San Antonio this weekend. Nina Simone, Pink Floyd, the Beatles and more music-centered events made our roundup of the best things to do in Alamo City this weekend.

4. San Antonio Home & Garden Show returns with HGTV star. Ati Williams will headline the San Antonio Spring Home & Garden Show, which takes place February 24-26.

5. H-E-B opens first location in growing San Antonio suburb. The state-of-the-art facility offers 110,000 square feet of floor space, providing everything from cat food to charcuterie.


Popular Pearl brunch spot remixes with new weekend DJ nights

OONCE OONCE OONCE

Though Full Goods Diner has barely been open for half a year, it has already become a San Antonio staple for working weekday lunches and lingering Sunday Fundays. Now the Pearl eatery is looking to be a hot spot after dark.

Via release, the popular local haunt just announced a new limited-time music series, Full Goods at Night. Starting on February 2, Full Goods Diner will open select evenings throughout the month.

The Full Goods at Night series will feature popular local San Antonio DJs, including El West Side Sound, Hector Gallego, DJ Plata, Steven Lee Moya, and Cami Gee. Guests can enjoy live sets while indulging in a specially curated food and drink offerings.

The menu will include some of Full Goods Diner's best—selling items, such as French toast sticks, barbacoa waffle fries, and jumbo cheesy tots. Libations like the Attaboy Negroni, Royal Bermuda Daiquiri, Pink G&T, and more will fuel the festivities.

In addition to enjoying moonlight brunch, guests can relish some prime people-watching. And, of course, the restaurant is just a hop from other nightlife destinations like Pink Hill, 3 Star Bar, and Summer Camp Bar, making it the perfect party starter.

The series runs every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday from February 2-25, 6-10 pm. The complete DJ schedule is listed below.

February 2 — El West Side Sound·
February 3 — Hector Gallego
February 4— DJ Plata
February 9 — El West Side Sound
February 10 — Steven Lee Moya
February 11 — Cami Gee
February 16 — El West Side Sound
February 17 — Steven Lee Moya
February 18 — Hector Gallego
February 23 — El West Side Sound
February 24— Steven Lee Moya
February 25 — DJ Plata

4 San Antonio culinary pioneers win $21K from the Texas Food & Wine Alliance

CULINARY INNOVATION

Texas’ skyrocketing culinary scene is about to get a huge boost. The Texas Food & Wine Alliance’s grant program has awarded $107,500 to 19 culinary innovators around the state. This marks the Alliance’s 11th year providing funding to support culinary projects contributing to local communities.

The award winners were announced in a ceremony at Austin's Holdsworth Center on January 21. A private panel of distinguished culinary experts chose the winners out of 40 grant applications this year. Nine winners hail from Austin, three from Dallas-Fort Worth, three from Houston, and four from San Antonio. The awards range from $1,500 to $10,000, with a special $25,000 grant investment from Austin favorite Tito’s Handmade Vodka in honor of the company’s 25th anniversary. Grant funding will support chefs, farms, and culinary education groups, among others.

Out of the four San Antonio area winners, Talking Tree Farm received the most from the grant program, $6,250 to purchase shipping containers for storage and to buy a solar-powered cold room for their harvests. John Marshall High School’s culinary arts program will use their $5,000 grant to establish a morning café. Agricultural project Habitable Spaces and pasture-raised chicken farm Cielito Lindo Farm also won $5,000 each to purchase equipment or build infrastructure to further their endeavors in the culinary space.

Austin-area winners received the most funding from the grant program, totalling $53,750, while San Antonio winners received $21,250 in total. Dallas/Fort Worth winners were awarded $19,750, and the three Houston recipients won $12,750. All of the 2022 winners reflect just how diverse the state's trailblazing culinary scene continues to expand.

“All of this year’s funded projects will further enrich the state through innovation and giveback,” said Erika White, executive director of the Alliance. “We’re extremely grateful to each of the Texas communities, our sponsors and their support in allowing us to reward these mold-breaking projects.”

In Austin, organic farm Trosi Farms was awarded the most funding ($10,000), which will help construct a germination shed for more stable plant start production. Locavore pioneer Boggy Creek Farm won $7,500 in grants to provide ADA-compliant accessibility to their new climate-controlled Tomato House, while Texas’ first organic feed mill, Coyote Creek Organic Feed Mill & Farm, received $6,250 to help purchase a building to be used as a store for the local community.

The six other Austin area grant recipients, each winning $5,000, include Vista Farms at Vista Brewing, Jamaican family business Tierra Todun ATX, coffee roasters Rising Tide Roast Collaborative, culinary educator Chef Pascal Simon from Bake Austin, East Austin food truck Community Vegan, and Latinx pastry project Comadre Panaderia (who also just earned a James Beard nomination). All winners will be able to use their grants to improve efficiency and expand their businesses, or in Chef Pascal's case, further research and development for her upcoming cookbook for Gen-Z young adults.

After starting the program in Austin, grant co-chair and TFWA past president Cathy Cochran-Lewis says it was the Alliance’s dream to expand the grant statewide.

“We’re so humbled and thrilled to now not only support worthwhile projects across Texas but also to give more than a half million dollars in funding over the last decade to help dreams come true,” she says. “This is a tribute to the culinary talent and the community mindset we are lucky to have in our state.”

The winners in the Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston areas include:

For this year's Honorable Mention, the Alliance chose San Antonio eatery Tacos Cucuy, who will soon open a brick-and-mortar space with an expanded menu. Tacos Cucuy are currently looking for support to develop a Tex-Mex charcuterie program called La Cura Carnes Especiales.

More information about the 2022 grants and its recipients can be found on texasfoodandwinealliance.org.