Matthews Market Nears Grand Opening

October 27, 2009

Strolling down Edloe Street with her Yorkshire terrier last week, West U. resident Brandee Tronstad paused to peer inside the windows of Matthews Market and read its “Opening Soon” sign.

The store is tentatively scheduled to open during the first week of November. Tronstad said she anticipates the convenience of running in for a gallon of milk or other small things, just like she did before the closure of JMH grocery store on Edloe Street.

“I miss the old JMH a lot,” Tronstad said. “JMH had been here for years, it was part of the community. It was sad to see it closed.”

Jim Reid, owner of Matthews Market and former JMH co-owner, said he wants his store to serve the community also. He envisions the market as a meeting place for West U. parents and children, who can buy treats from the 15-foot candy bar or play Playstation and arcade games in the market’s game room.

“It’s really done to promote the community, and our local kids and local environment in a wholesome way,” Reid said. He decided to dedicate the market to Joni Hruska Fichter, a West U. resident who volunteers extensively in the community.

In June and July, the city denied Reid’s building permit several times and asked him to remove asbestos in the building, and get Harris County’s approval for the food-service side of the business. When Reid resolved those issues, he earned the permit.

Public Works Director Chris Peifer said that now, the store has passed many of its city inspections. There are still two mechanical inspections to be done, as well as plumbing and building inspections. Once all of the tests are complete, Reid said he’ll receive a certificate he needs to open Matthews Market.

In the meantime, Reid will be finalizing the menu for the restaurant and stocking his shelves with groceries.

“It’s really set up as a convenience store for the neighborhood,” Reid said. “We’re really there to fill a void when you run out of milk, sugar or spices and things like that.”

Along with his real estate company, Rabon Reid Real Estate Services, Reid was responsible for the design and construction of Matthews Market. He designed the space to feel warm and inviting, using recycled materials like  refinished wood, old farm windows painted as grocery isle signs, and bricks from a building demolished in downtown Houston. Many decor features are handmade, like the signs and counter tops.

“We really went for a warm feeling,” Reid said. “We just really wanted this to feel like someone’s living room.”

Executive Chef Gilbert Buyher is working with Reid to refine the restaurant’s menu in preparation for the opening. He is cooking all the menu items for tastings, and changing the dishes based on feedback. The restaurant’s menu features family favorites like burgers, salads, Tex-Mex dishes and casseroles.

“It’s basic, it’s simple and good,” said Buyher. “Comfort food.”

Busy parents can also run in to pick up prepared dishes like king ranch casserole and lasagna, and then take them home to warm up and serve to their families.

Diane Sizemore owns neighboring retail store Hip Hop Lollipop, said she anticipates the market may increase her own sales. Many people already walk on Edloe Street and wander into her store, she said, but numbers could increase once Matthews Market opens.

“I think if [walkers] have a destination spot, it will be good for us,” Sizemore said. “I’m excited, I think it’s going to create traffic.”

Tronstad said she will hold judgement about whether Matthews Market is a good replacement for JMH grocery store until after she gets to explore the new store within the coming weeks. But she’s still excited about the pending opening.

“They look like they’re doing some fun things with it,” she said.

InstantNewsWestu Staff

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