Rice Village Sandwich Favorite Morphs Into a Pop-Up Grocery Market — Local Foods Adjusts to the Coronavirus Reality

Benjy Levit Joins Houston Restaurateurs Reacting Creatively to Pandemic

BY // 03.24.20
photography Local Foods

Add Benjy Levit — owner of The Classic, Local Foods, Benjy’s — to the growing number of restaurateurs moving creatively to remain in business in spite of the COVID-19 restaurant restrictions. Local Foods in Rice Village, an area where Levit has held a culinary stronghold for decades, is stepping up its game by creating a pop-up grocery market.

In light of the lines outside of H-E-B, Whole Foods Market, and Central Market while shoppers abide by numbers control, a mini-grocery with basics as well as prepared foods is a welcome addition to the Rice Village neighborhood. Located at 2424 Dunstan, the pop-up market is open from 11 am to 8 pm daily.

Items included in the Local Foods larder range from milk, eggs, and peanut butter to toilet paper and prepared foods from local vendors such as Slow Dough, Katz Coffee, Black Hill Ranch, Blue Horizon Seafood, and more. And, of course, there are takeout items from menus from the Levit stable of restaurants.

Last Monday — which seems like years ago in this era of social distancing and restaurant dining-room shutdowns — Erica and Benjy Levit and Local Foods partner Dylan Murray were pondering their next step by immediately focusing on to-go orders and free delivery for large orders from The Classic, Benjy’s, and Local Foods.

Three days later, they expanded the offerings at Local Foods to include a few essentials such as produce, fresh-cut meats ,and cheese, wine, beer, Katz coffee, hot sauce, and olive oil, among others.

Photo Mar 23, 5 13 51 PM (Photo by Local Foods)
Fresh foods and vegetables are among the essentials on the shelves at Local Foods Rice Village pop up market. (Photo by Local Foods)

On Monday, Levit announced that The Classic and Benjy’s are closed temporarily, while the focus is on Local Foods in Rice Village. By Tuesday, deliveries of fresh produce and other essentials were arriving at Local Foods.

“We want to do something nice for the neighborhood and the community at large,” Levit tells PaperCity. “Also, we are collaborating with other businesses in the community, such as the Chocolate Bar, while providing a new outlet for our vendors with the pop-up market. We welcome any other local vendors to join us.”

Among those already on board are Slow Dough, Blue Horizon, Katz Coffee, Black Hill Ranch, Dairymaids, and 44 Farms.

It’s a concept not unlike that of Clark Cooper Concepts, which transformed the Rice Village Coppa Osteria, right around the corner from Local Foods, into Coppa Marketplace.

Rice Village residents are market lucky.

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