STAFF WRITER JENNIFER FIERRO
MARBLE FALLS — “Enormous,” “massive,” and “impressive” don’t begin to describe the new H-E-B store in Marble Falls.
But people used those words a lot during a ribbon-cutting Feb. 8, when H-E-B officials gave community leaders and the media a behind-the-scenes look at the 110,000-square-foot facility, located at 1503 RR 1431. It officially opens at 6 a.m. Friday, Feb. 9.
H-E-B Marble Falls Unit Director Rudy Gill called it a phenomenal food store.
“It’s what attracted me to come out here,” he said. “We’re able to give the Marble Falls community the latest and greatest H-E-B has to offer.”
The improvements over the older, smaller store next door include 18 checkouts, up from the 15; a bigger selection of healthy options, including gluten-free and organic products; an onsite tortilla maker; a larger selection of meat options in the refrigerated section as well as deli meats and cheeses; and fresh seafood every day.
“We’ll be able to offer the freshest products Marble Falls has seen,” Gill said. “We’ll have expanded produce, bakery, expanded seafood.”
The new drive-through pharmacy is another sought-after service that puts the store in a separate category.
“Our customers have long asked for it,” Gill said. “We’re proud to deliver that.”
But perhaps most impressive is the number of employees or “partners,” as the store calls them, who are now working for the local store. H-E-B will add another 150 workers at the new facility, bringing the total number of partners to 340.
“I’m really proud they come from this area,” Gill said.
Jeff Thomas, senior vice president and general manager of the H-E-B Central Texas Region, said there are more than 1,700 wines and 45,000 different items in the grocery department.
“This produce department is awesome,” he said. “The healthy living (section) is the largest in the region; I think you’ll be very impressed with that. There’s more assortment than in the Lakeway, Bee Caves, and Westlake stores. There are so many things to be proud of. We’re proud of this store. We’re proud of everything we can put in it.”
Florence Butt started the grocery story chain in Kerrville in 1905. She saved money to open a grocery store on the bottom floor of the family’s two-story house.
Butt told her children that while they didn’t have much, they always had enough to share. So, in the tradition of the store chain’s founder, H-E-B officials singled out two entities for donations.
H-E-B donated $10,000 worth of gift cards to the Marble Falls Education Foundation.
Chris Allen, superintendent of the Marble Falls Independent School District, said the gesture is “what happens when there’s a shared value.”
The Helping Center of Marble Falls received $1,000 worth of gift cards as well as a $1,000 credit with the Capital Area Food Bank, though Sam Pearce, the center’s director, told H-E-B officials they do enough for his facility already.
He noted that the center gives away enough food to families in need to equal 25,000 meals a month.
“We couldn’t do it without H-E-B,” Pearce said.
Gill said the plan is to demolish the old store and expand the parking lot in May. Once that’s completed, 13 gas pumps will be installed. These additions are expected to be completed between August and September.
Thomas said he was happy to be part of bringing a new store to the area for a couple of reasons.
First, as a teenager, he spent many happy summers with a couple of best friends right here. In 1990, his first special project for the food chain’s chief executive officer was to help transition the Marble Falls H-E-B from the store on U.S. 281 to the location on RR 1431. For the past 11 years, Thomas has worked with numerous individuals to make the new store happen.
Thomas, who lives in Horseshoe Bay, was as ready as anyone for the new store.
“Obviously, there was more motivation for a new store in the community with all my neighbors hounding me about it,” he added with a laugh. “As the community grows, we’ll grow with you and give back.”