If that’s the case, then life in Kenedy now must be even better than “better.”
A new H-E-B grocery store and H-E-B convenience store opened in Kenedy last week and store leaders and team members welcomed local folks with open arms to the celebration.
Guests were welcomed to a preview luncheon on Thursday, July 24, to let local folks get a “sneak peek” inside the new H-E-B store in Kenedy. Community members were excited to see the new store.
On Friday morning, July 25, at 6 a.m. the time had arrived for the new H-E-B grocery store, which is more than three times the size of the old one, to officially open for business.
A small group of people were lined up to be the first customers to walk inside the new store located near the intersection of U.S. Highway 181 and State Highway 72 West.
A few hours later on Friday morning, H-E-B hosted a ribbon cutting ceremony and celebration in front of a large crowd gathered at the front of the new store.
Suzanne Wade, president of HEB San Antonio welcomed visitors to the new store.
“I am so pleased that we are opening this store today,” Wade said. “We have been wanting to do it for a long time.”
“This is your store,” Wade said. “You have supported us for 80 years and this is your payback. It is a beautiful store. It is a huge store inside.”
Store leaders said 80 additional workers have been hired to staff the much larger store, bringing the total staff close to 150.
Kenedy H-E-B Store Director Jimmy Sordia thanked both H-E-B employees and the community for their support during the event.
“I would like to thank you, the community, for giving back,” Sordia said. “It is because of you – that is why we are here.”
James Aulds, with H-E-B Petroleum spoke briefly about the HEB convenience store that opened earlier in the week, which is the largest convenience store in the HEB chain with 20 fuel pumps and a McDonalds restaurant inside the store. Aulds said the convenience store would be open 24-hours per day.
Eight local non-profit groups were presented a total of $67,000 in cash and store products as part of the event.
The South Texas Children’s Home received a contribution of $8,000 plus $3,000 worth of products in inventory at the old Kenedy store.
The Kenedy school district, Karnes City ISD education foundation, Runge school district, Kenedy Police Department, Kenedy Volunteer Fire Department, Karnes City Volunteer Fire Department and the Kenedy Public Library were each presented with contributions of $8,000.
Near the end of the ceremony, HEB team leader and team members cut the ribbon, officially opening the new store for business as applause and cheers were heard from the crowd.
Local people shared comments on Facebook about the new store, most of which were very positive.
“I really like having a new store,” Daniel Villanueva said. “It makes this town look nice having a bigger H-E-B. And it will bring more jobs... It will help the community and also the elderly by having a drive-through pharmacy – no need for them to park and walk inside. That’s an advantage for them.”
Some expressed concerns about added traffic and congestion in the area near the intersection of U.S. Highway 181 and State Highway 72 West.
“I love the new store,” said June Diaz. “What concerns me is the traffic at that corner and the impatient drivers trying to get in and out. It can be a little scary.”
Joni Huwe expressed similar concerns about the area near the intersection.
“The new store, McDonald’s, and convenience fuel store are nice but getting into and out of the parking lot is a nightmare,” Huwe said. “The turning lane on Hwy. 181 is like playing a game of chicken to try to see who goes first. People turning left and people turning right all from the same turning lane at a very busy intersection often has people’s vehicles at a face to face standstill. Dangerous.”
According to the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), there are no plans to install any new traffic signals in the area of the two new H-E-B stores located between Joe Gulley Park and U.S. Highway 181. Kenedy City Manager Ford Patton said a traffic signal could not be installed at the intersection of Bellaire Boulevard and State Highway 72 West because it would be too close to the main highway intersection.
For some, the opening of the new stores was bittersweet because while two new stores were opening, the old store was closing its doors – the end of an era.
“A lot of memories were made,” former H-E-B employee Brandon Briones said regarding the old store that had recently become vacant. “Now it is time to close that chapter and start a new one with H-E-B #693”
“I had a blast working in this store,” Briones added. “Bye bye, #155, you will be missed. The best is yet to come. Are you ready? Then hold no regrets and embrace the best thing to hit Kenedy in a long, long, time. HEB #693 is the place to be! Here Everything’s Better!”
The new 40,000 square-foot grocery store features more than 10,000 new items and is more than three times the size of the store currently in operation in Kenedy, but smaller than the H-E-B Stores in Floresville and Beeville. The new store will feature a deli, a drive-through pharmacy and many other features that customers are used to seeing at larger H-E-B stores.