Buffalo Grille May Leave Location Near H-E-B

February 24, 2010

The Buffalo Grille is questioning whether its lease will be renewed and exploring options for another location after H-E-B managers have expressed concerns about parking, said John McAleer III, co-owner of the popular, family-owned restaurant.

McAleer told the West University Place City Council on Monday that his family wants to stay near West U., possibly in the old JMH building, because residents have been such loyal customers since The Buffalo Grille opened in 1984 at the corner of Buffalo Speedway and Bissonnet Street.

“Just in a perfect world, what would be really cool to move into would be the remaining space of JMH,” he said. “I think we’ve semi-established ourselves as an iconic West U. place, and I think what a better fit than over there?”

McAleer said the restaurant has not received official word from the grocery store about what will happen in April 2011 when its lease expires. There’s still the chance that The Buffalo Grille will stay put, but the family is exploring all its options considering some ongoing parking issues, McAleer said.

“They’re worried some of our customers are taking their spots, and their customers are going over to Kroger, which is obviously their biggest competitor,” he said. “We were hoping we could work together with H-E-B. We told them from the beginning there could potentially be some parking issues.”

Michael Freeman, who owns the old JMH building on Edloe Street and Rice Boulevard, said Buffalo Grille representatives visited the building last week to take a tour and discuss leasing it from him. Freeman recently leased about 40 percent of the available space to Texas Citizens Bank, leaving about 60 percent open should Buffalo Grille choose that location.

“One door closes, another opens. I personally think they’d be great for the community and I’d love them,” Freeman said. “They wanted to go back to the drawing board and do their homework, and then they’d get back with me.”

Because the restaurant is a community fixture, McAleer said he hopes the grocery store will allow it to stay considering the store’s treatment of the Buffalo Pharmacy. Although the 57-year-old pharmacy was demolished when H-E-B moved in, the grocery store bought the company and hired the management and staff for the H-E-B Pharmacy.

In May 2009, representatives from H-E-B visited the West U. City Council to introduce themselves and answer a frequently asked question — When will the store open? That answer was August 2009.

“Another thing we constantly get asked, is Buffalo Grille staying? Yes, it is,” said H-E-B spokeswoman Cyndy Garza-Robert, according to an audio recording of the meeting.

Garza-Robert did not immediately return phone calls seeking comment, but InstantNewsWestU will update this story if she does.

Councilman Steven Segal said on Monday he had asked H-E-B back then whether they meant that The Buffalo Grille would stay indefinitely, or just until the end of its lease. He never received an answer, Segal said.

“I hope they work it out,” he said. “I’m personally pleased, if they do leave, they’re looking to be somewhere else in the neighborhood. People tell me they’ve been going there for years. I have, probably for 25 years.”

McAleer said he wouldn’t fault H-E-B or hold “hard feelings” if the company decides to end the restaurant’s lease.

“No matter what decision they come to, we’ll still respect them, and still shop there,” he said.

InstantNewsWestu Staff

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