P&K last day

Opening one last time this Sunday for a clearance sale, P&K Grocery, which has become a southside institution during its all too brief existence, will close its doors forever. Even the building is for sale, along with its catering and commercial refrigeration equipment. No asking-price is noted, but selling points should be that the renovation was by the Mell Lawrence architectural firm and the landscape design, by Gardens. It’s announced that the catering staff, under the name Spoon and Co., will carry on offering the prepared dishes that have been a big attraction here (see Metblog account one and account two if you’re wondering what you’ve been missing).

11 Comments so far

  1. AC (unregistered) on October 25th, 2007 @ 3:21 pm

    It’s a real shame to see this go. I always wondered, though, whether it should have mixed in some more low-end staples, just to balance out its cash flow. It didn’t look like space was an issue.

  2. Rantor (unregistered) on October 25th, 2007 @ 4:18 pm

    It has always seemed very roomy to me, too; in fact, it would be a nice place to live! I believe I recall that it was at first intended to set up this business in the old Texas movie theater on South Congress but that there was some trouble from the City about parking (!). From an account in the local daily, it sounds as though the owners found that the business was eating up their lives (taking all their time), which is really what any small business does. I’m not sure whether the ever-changing stock has been a plus or a minus (finding something there once didn’t mean it would ever be stocked again). Certainly, the food to go has consistently been very tasty and appealing, and it appears that in some form that part of the business will continue. I was pleased to know that the store-owners are the owners of the real estate, as well, which should, even in today’s iffy market, be an asset that will realize a profit (or at least not result in financial loss).

  3. M1EK (unregistered) on October 26th, 2007 @ 8:54 am

    This shows pretty conclusively that you cannot run a small grocery store in this town without a substantial density of pedestrian customers. Fresh Plus in Clarksville can do it, in other words, so (barely) can FP in Hyde Park, but this grocer didn’t have quite as many walkers – fatal flaw, because as long as you have to get in your car to go to the grocery store anyways, most will just go to HEB, even those like me who would much rather have walked to the small store to begin with.

    Closer to Congress, this store might have worked. But some people just don’t get it – you can’t be in the middle of lowish-density old suburban homes like Bouldin and expect many walk-up customers.

  4. Rantor (unregistered) on October 26th, 2007 @ 9:17 am

    The target economic demographic may have been misread. P&K had a high-dollar inventory, as the first person to comment noted. A lot of it consisted of inventory far removed from groceries, despite the name. Right across the street from P&K (915 West Mary) is David’s Food (912 West Mary), a grocery store that has a lot of walk-up business, perhaps even mostly walk-up business. People there are buying Mrs. Baird’s bread, not ciabatta, and Big Red, not Saratoga Vichy Water. The building housing P&K was traditionally a small grocery store. A view of David’s appears in the illustration for Metblog account one, referenced above. As noted above, several people, including the backers of P&K as some recall, tried to use the Texas theater (on South Congress, for those who don’t know) for food / grocery businesses, but were thwarted by the City. The busiest part of P&K always seemed to be the prepared-food counter, right up front. The sales promotion for the property promotes its readiness for food-related businesses. Perhaps we’ll see a restaurant there next but with some takeout aspects.

  5. ttrentham (unregistered) on October 26th, 2007 @ 1:59 pm

    Anybody know how Farm To Market on South Congress is doing? I never went into P&K, but I’ll stop at Farm To Market some days for a quick few things to avoid the parking hell at HEB Oltorf. They seem to be targeting the higher end to a certain extent. I love the frozen pastas and that they carry Stone IPA.

    Isn’t there a fancy small grocery in the new Second Street area as well?

  6. Rantor (unregistered) on October 26th, 2007 @ 3:13 pm

    I think that Farm to Market is doing great, at least we hope so! Somebody from our household is in there at least once a week, hoping to avoid the madness that H-E-B can be during the busy hours. The owners of Farm to Market are very community-involved. We pick up eggs from Del Valle and locally roasted coffee beans, and there is very often Buddy’s natural chicken, from down the road in Gonzalez, great for broiling up a quick supper. In a way, Farm to Market is the opposite of P&K in that P&K is spacious, and Farm to Market is jam-packed, with no tiny space going unoccupied. Farm to Market takes over unsold baked goods when Texas French Bread, its neighbor, closes for the day, so there are usually honfleur baguettes, still fresh, and other TFB products later in the day. We stopped in at the downtown grocery. I’m not sure how downtown’s Royal Blue grocery is doing; every time I’ve checked it out it has seemed like a bottled-water joint for the downtown-dwellers who have nothing much else in their fridges . . . time to check it out again.

  7. Rantor (unregistered) on October 26th, 2007 @ 3:16 pm

    About Farm to Market, I forgot to mention that it usually has a stock of locally field-grown cut flowers from the Arnofsky people, great for a hostess gift or for brightening your own table (for instance, we seem to grow only pink zinnias, not intentionally, and in season FM has all the other colors).

  8. M1EK (unregistered) on October 26th, 2007 @ 5:15 pm

    We went to Royal Blue on our last trip to the childrens’ museum, and it is stocked for what you’d need to cook a last-minute meal a couple times a week. About where it should be, for now, although there’ll be more of a need in a year or so (hopefully they will have expanded by then).

  9. Rantor (unregistered) on October 26th, 2007 @ 8:23 pm

    I think I remember that there’s quite a nice selection of reading material (magazines), plus ice (great for late-night needs) and yogurt thingies.

  10. mss (unregistered) on October 29th, 2007 @ 7:49 pm

    I am so disappointed that P&K closed; I’ve been waiting since last summer to take my mother-in-law there when she came to visit us from England. Unfortunately, she missed it by one week.

    I loved how it had become a little hub of the community. I looked forward to the day when the new branch library opened caddy-corner; what a great morning out that would make! I loved walking up there with visitors to buy some chocolate or bakery goods to eat while wandering around the neighborhood.

    I think it was just ahead of the wealth curve–ahead of its time. All these expensive condos are opening along Lamar and on the fringes of Bouldin. Every day expensive homes spring up to replace the modest cottages that are being bulldozed. Hey, big spenders! Where were you?

  11. Rantor (unregistered) on October 31st, 2007 @ 1:50 pm

    It’s tough to be ahead of one’s time; I think that we’re among the few to remember a business that baked real Italian bread, sold real pasta back when American Beauty elbow macaroni was about all there was, and offered other Italian groceries and dishes (was it called Old World something-or-other?). We loved it, but not enough others did to support it. Today’s paper reports changes in Cissi’s on South Congress — haven’t been there yet, but it sounds as though it plans to stock more staples and offer more prepared takeout food.

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