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H-E-B rings up No. 1 ranking in new study of online grocers

E-commerce excellence

Photo courtesy of H-E-B

San Antonio-based H-E-B has once again bagged a big honor in the grocery business.

In its inaugural study of e-commerce retailers that sell groceries, “customer science” company dunnhumby ranks H-E-B as the best online grocer in the U.S. It beat retail giants Amazon, Amazon Fresh, Walmart, and Walmart-owned Sam’s Club to claim the top spot.

“Although the dominance of Amazon and Walmart in the online space might not come as a surprise, H-E-B stands out in first place,” the study says, “and it is worth highlighting the regional grocer has the best emotional connection … out of all of the retailers in this study.”

Here are H-E-B’s top rankings in the study:

  • First place for ease of using the H-E-B app.
  • First place for ease of paying for purchases.
  • First place for on-time order deliveries.
  • Second place for accuracy of charges.
  • Second place for speed of online shopping.
  • Second place for convenience of pickup and delivery time slots.
  • Second place for convenient location of brick-and-mortar stores.

Overall, H-E-B earns high marks for customer sentiment and financial performance in the online grocery category. Despite the “colossal size” of Amazon and Walmart, the study says, H-E-B stands tall “based largely on the strength of their customer value proposition.”

The study notes that H-E-B also excels in the online grocery department as compared with other regional grocers, such as Kroger.

“H-E-B distinguishes itself from other regional retailers for having great digital assets that customers prefer when grocery shopping for its ease of use and reliability,” the study says. “H-E-B customers trust its platforms and its ability to fulfill their online orders.”

The shoutout in the dunnhumby study is one of several accolades H-E-B has collected in recent years. For example:

  • Earlier this year, dunnhumby named H-E-B the second best grocery retailer in the U.S., behind Amazon.
  • H-E-B tied for second place in a 2020 ranking by Market Force of the top U.S. grocers for customer loyalty. Market Force measures the customer experience at retail stores, coffee shops, and restaurants.
  • Two years ago, Food & Wine anointed H-E-B the king of grocers in the U.S.
Photo by Harper Smith

Texas-based athleisure brand makes big moves with latest partnership

Doing Things

Outdoor Voices is sashaying into the new year with a big-name partnership and a two-day virtual dance event. The Texas-based athleisure brand is partnering with Nordstrom to launch in eight shops across the nation and carry the brand exclusively online, it announced January 5.

Nordstrom.com now carries 40 pieces from the brand's capsule collection — think the Exercise Dress, the color-block leggings, the Athena crop — in both women's and men's styles. Sizes range from XS to XL.

"As a brand on a mission to get the world moving, we are excited to partner with Nordstrom to bring our #DoingThings movement to a broader audience," said Ashley Merrill, executive chairwoman at Outdoor Voices, in a release.

In Texas, the line is now available in Austin's Barton Creek Nordstrom — Outdoor Voices' hometown— as well as department stores in New York City; Los Angeles; Tyson's Corner, Virginia; Scottsdale, Arizona; Oakbrook, Illinois; Walnut Creek, California; and Bellevue, Washington, near the department store's hometown of Seattle.

“We’re really excited to be Outdoor Voices’ retail partner of choice and introduce their activewear to our Nordstrom customers,” said Lori Marten, vice president and divisional merchandise manager for active, specialized and performance at Nordstrom. “We love Outdoor Voices’ message of #DoingThings daily and freeing fitness from performance."

In celebration of the collaboration, Outdoor Voices and Nordstrom are hosting a two-day virtual event to bring "iconic NYC dance classes to your living room."

Keomi Tarver from Mark Morris Dance Center and Yin Yue from Gibney Dance Center will host live classes January 19 and 21. Both upcoming classes are free and reservations will open January 11 here.

Photo courtesy of Nave Coyote

Howlin' new Pearl pop-up shop showcases best in contemporary Mexican goods

Baby I'm howling for you

In a city like San Antonio, it's easy to see the rich cultural influence Mexico has throughout the history of Texas and the Southwest. But learning more about Mexico's burgeoning contemporary design scene seems increasingly difficult to do amid polarizing political rhetoric.

That's what makes Pearl's newest pop-up a must-hit event this holiday season. Nave Coyote offers a collection of goods from Guadalajara, the hometown of curator/designer Isabel Moncada. Together with fellow designer Peter Glassford, the duo brings a "vibrant collection of fashion, jewelry, leather goods, tabletop designs, furniture, and lighting items that vary from practical to extravagant" to their pop-up shops.

In addition to being Moncada's birthplace, Guadalajara is also home base for Glassford Moncada, a "design alliance and workshop with a Tex-Mex perspective" the pair began in 2016.

This unique pop-up was curated especially for the San Antonio audience and will take over the Pearl's Diehlman Building beginning November 29 through January 10. This is the third temporary shop to takeover the building since chef Andrew Weissmann closed his landmark Il Signo restaurant in 2018.

Nave Coyote is currently teasing some of the limited-edition items its bringing to San Antonio on social media. Among the goodies local shoppers will find are wild, one-of-kind Taller Lu’um lighting fixtures; chic Casilda Mut womenswear; and whimsical ceramics from Soda Escombro.

In celebration of its Alamo City debut, Nave Coyote will also host a series of special in-store events beginning on November 29 with an opening reception. Nave Coyote will also host an artists' talk on December 4 and a Cuata Jewelry trunk show on December 7, among other events.

Shop ceramics by Sofía Echeverri.

Photo courtesy of Nave Coyote
Shop ceramics by Sofía Echeverri.
Courtesy photo

Spurs' retro-inspired streetwear dribbles into San Antonio for limited time

Good sports

Though longtime San Antonio Spurs fans may bleed silver and black, the fiesta colors will always have a place in fans' hearts. Now, that vibrant scheme is making a comeback as part of a new clothing line.

In a release, the hometown team announced that it's debuting a sporty collection called La Cultura, “created as a love letter to the culture that San Antonians call home.” The 22 pieces include streetwear favorites like T-shirts, hats, hoodies, and tanks in a wide variety of adult and children’s sizes.

The fuschia, orange, and turquoise colors, which were used in Spurs uniforms from 1989 to 2002, will forever be associated with the David Robinson years, an era that included the Spur’s first NBA championship. Still, none of the items exactly read retro.

Instead, graphic designer Owen Lindsey designed a contemporary collection that can be worn anywhere from the gym to the club. Fans who buy the basketball can even extend the style to the court.

Locals watching the Spurs battle the Washington Wizards during the October 26 Hispanic Heritage Night will have a first crack at the swag when doors open at 6:30 pm. On October 27, the gear will be available at the La Cantera Spurs fan shop and online.

However, the items are only being made in limited quantities, so fashionistas won’t want to wait long. The fiesta colors have been having a major moment over the last few weeks with everyone from players to the official Spur’s social media accounts brightening up with multi-hued pride.

Photo courtesy of Tecovas

High-end Texas boot maker scoots into new Northwest San Antonio shop

Can I Kick It?

Any Texan worth their salt knows that an outfit isn't complete without a good pair of boots. Now, San Antonio has a swanky new shop to get their kicks.

On July 13, Tecovas, a Texas-based brand specializing in Western wear, boots, and accessories, opened its first shop in the Alamo City, settling in at the Shops at La Cantera. This is not only the first South Texas location for the brand, but Tecovas' first outpost outside of its hometown of Austin.

"We're excited to expand the Tecovas retail presence beyond Austin ... and San Antonio has been on our list for awhile," explains Paul Hedrick, founder and CEO of Tecovas. "When a space opened up at the beautiful and oft-frequented Shops at La Cantera, we knew we had found our second store."

The company partnered with the famed team at Michael Hsu Office of Architecture on the 3,500-square-foot space, an Old West-meets-contemporary design with steel fixtures, wooden accents, and leather (but of course). Among the eye-catching features is a piece from Kyle Bunting, a high-end Austin textile maker specializing in hides. Bunting created a signature piece of art for the store: a hanging hide depicting the Alamo.

The new store, according to the company, was designed to enhance the Tecovas direct-to-consumer business model. "We want our physical retail experience to be a seamless shopping experience with the same high bar for customer experience that we set for our online store," Hedrick says.

Customers are able to try shoes on a variety of sizes and either purchase directly from the store or have them shipped. The new La Cantera store also offers embossing on all leather goods, as well as complimentary boot shines and the bourbon or craft cocktail.

Opening at 15900 La Cantera Pkwy., Ste. 1450 was a natural next, ahem, step for the boot brand. Though Hedrick founded the company in 2015, Tecovas didn't move into its first physical space until earlier this year, when it opened a flagship store on Austin's bustling South Congress Avenue strip. In choosing a second location, Hedrick says San Antonio was the best option — for three important reasons.

"Not only do we have thousands of customers there already, but it's a city rich with Texas history," says Hedrick. "And people love boots!"

In addition to an authentic boot selection, the store also features an original Kyle Bunting wall mural of the Alamo.

Photo courtesy of Tecovas
In addition to an authentic boot selection, the store also features an original Kyle Bunting wall mural of the Alamo.
Courtesy photo

Beyond Schlitterbahn: The best places to visit, eat, and stay in New Braunfels

Weekend getaways

As the temperature rises in South Texas, chances are that most San Antonians are planning to head to New Braunfels to splash around Schlitterbahn or tube down the Comal River. But those folks are missing out on a lot of fun. From vintage shopping to natural caverns, the town is full of activities for all ages — and only a few of them require getting wet.

Where to eat and drink
The Downtowner
Housed in the former home of downtown’s Ol’ Bossy Creamery, this sunny eatery has the sort of charmingly historic storefront Instagram was made for. The Southern-influenced comfort food inside is just as picture-worthy, blending tradition and innovation. Hearty meatloaf gets a sweet-smoky lift from candied bacon, biscuits are topped with duck egg and heritage pork, and Salisbury steak sheds its TV dinner roots by using top quality, pasture-aged ribeye.

Krause’s Biergarten & Cafe
No trip to New Braunfels is complete without a taste of authentic German fare. This classic restaurant does it right with crispy pork and chicken schnitzel, tangy sauerkraut, and beefy brats. Call two business days in advance, and the kitchen will even roast guests up a whole hog or lamb or make a six-foot sandwich with all the fixings.

Muck & Fuss
Burgers and beer are a classic summer combination, but sometimes a quarter pounder and a Bud Light just doesn’t cut it. Thankfully, this stylish newcomer ups the ante by offering everything from bison to the vegan Impossible patty as the base for an array of tempting toppings, including local goat cheese, fried green tomatoes, tobacco onions, and pulled pork. The beer menu is just as impressive, ranging from hyper-local ales to IPAs from cult Colorado breweries.

Where to shop
The Art Cottage
Even for those whose budgets barely make room for the Target discount bin, much less original art, this working downtown studio is still fun to visit. The artists who show here — Vicki Smith, Sherry Kelley, Kathy Perales, Sherry Wooley, and Wendy Volpe — work in a wide variety of mediums, from sculpture to fiber arts. Those with a few bucks to spare, however, are likely to be unable to resist Perales’ vibrant floral paintings or Kelley’s whimsical bronzes.

Red Stag
If Henry Higgins was outfitting his home in present day Texas instead of Edwardian England, surely this sumptuous shop would be on autodial. Even the most particular gentleman will find much to like in the selection of Turkish rugs, Libeco Belgian linens, handmade Rustico leather goods, and grooming products from Jack Black. Scattered about are coffee table books, European antiques, and, occasionally, a spoiled cat.

Lot 59
One suspects that Kat Balmos has an enviable closet. From lightweight maxi-dresses to shimmery iridescent tops, the clothing she carries in her eclectic shop ooze Texas cool. But Lot 59 isn’t just a space where you can cop her breezy style. It’s full of plenty of home fashions, from artwork that brings just the right amount of kitsch to a space to very of-the-moment wicker peacock chairs.

What to see
Hill Country Craft Beer Trail
Some of Texas’ best craft breweries can be found near New Braunfels, including Lone Star favorite 5 Stones. Book a shuttle with friends to enjoy all the pints worry-free, and don’t forget to pack a few snacks to munch on while taking in the beautiful scenery.

Natural Bridge Caverns
The fascinating formations are naturally the main attraction of this family favorite, but there’s plenty more to keep fidgety kiddos engaged. Toddlers can explore Sky Tykes, a ropes course specifically designed for small children. Older teens can grapple through the Canopy Explorer course or take a ride on the zipline. Everyone will love watching the Bracken bat flight fill the Texas sky.

Where to stay
Faust Hotel
It’s easy to wax rhapsodic about the Art Deco details at this downtown hotel, but one of its main draws can be found outside of your suite’s doors. The Faust Brewing Co. downstairs serves some of the Texas Hill Country’s finest beers. Try a few, then plop down on the hotel's luxuriously appointed beds.

Gruene Mansion Inn
Just a hop from New Braunfels in Gruene, this stately 1872 house is one of the most gorgeous inns in the state. The rooms, however, orange from richly Victorian to strikingly contemporary. The Texas Suite is decked out in cowhide rugs and leather furniture, the Gruene Room is as plush as any big city boutique hotel, and Bertha’s Bedroom is quaint with a floral wallpapered ceiling. Make the stay even better by adding a basket full of artisan coffee, tasty snacks, or tubing supplies.

The Resort at Schlitterbahn
Looking like a set piece from Swiss Family Robinson, the Treehaus luxury suites at the water park are perched on roughly hewn logs. Inside, guests will find modern conveniences like a full kitchen, wi-fi, and fine bedding — not that kids are likely to notice. They’ll be too busy gazing at the park’s lazy river, located just a few tantalizing feet from the hotel’s balcony.

The Downtowner serves chef-driven Southern comfort food.

Courtesy photo
The Downtowner serves chef-driven Southern comfort food.
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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.