The entrance to Roy Pope's Grocery.
A fire gutted the building in 1970, but Roy Pope's rebuilt on the same spot.
The unique products and produce have made the family-owned business a success for generations.
Owners, Renee and Bob Larance (center) from the seventieth anniversary celebration of Roy Pope's Grocery.
It’s been a tough week, and learning of the permanent loss of Roy Pope Grocery is almost too much to take. Now in its 77th year of business, the Fort Worth institution is one of the oldest independently and family-owned grocers in Texas. Current owners Bob and Renee Larance revealed its impending closure in a note on Roy Pope’s website.
“To our loyal customers and all our friends, we want to thank you for all the wonderful years of patronage,” the statement reads. “In the last 77 years, our store has evolved with the changing times to serve you with the best and freshest products available. We have striven to offer a pleasant and friendly atmosphere to shop.”
No other specifics on the decision were disclosed.
Located at 2300 Merrick, just off the bricks of Camp Bowie, the iconic business was original and quaint ― a comforting throwback to simpler times.
The 6,000-square-foot grocery store was founded in 1943 by Roy Pope himself, who presided over the store long known by locals as simply Roy Pope’s until 1968. Then former produce department employee John Le Mond took over. His tenure lasted until 1990, when Roy Pope Grocery was transferred to the hands the Larances.
A fire completely gutted the store in 1970. Though it was not fully insured at the time, Roy Pope’s rebuilt on the same spot, with the original (slightly uneven) concrete floors.
For many decades, long before Whole Foods and Central Market came along, the neighborhood grocery was the only place in town to find a lot of the imports and specialty items that we take for granted today.
I recall a world where the only imported cheeses at most other groceries didn’t venture far beyond Swiss and cheddar. Customers would return from trips overseas and request Roy Pope Grocery to stock some favorite new finds ― and the store delivered. In more ways than one.
Roy Pope’s Pioneering Difference
With all the talk of delivery and curbside pickup during these coronavirus times, it’s good to recall that Roy Pope was one of the first spots in North Texas to provide such services. In fact, that is why the business lasted, with generations of loyal customers. Roy Pope’s service knew no bounds.
This gourmet grocery institution was one of the first to deliver orders right to its customers’ doors. Roy Pope also introduced the first curbside delivery, which was known as “Will Call.” Customers have long been phoning in their order, and having it bagged and brought out to the car for convenience.
Most of us who grew up on the westside of Fort Worth were sent there often, with a handwritten list to fulfill for parent and grandparents. It’s where our grandmothers bought the mint jelly for lamb chops, hearts of palm for salads, and where the butcher trimmed meats to their specifications.
The cold-case had fluffy tuna and potato salad and jello salad with marshmallows. The meat market was legendary, and the burgers they grilled in-house became a standard. Roy Pope Grocery was also famous for its hand-selected produce, purveyed from local farmers markets. That was kind of quality and attention to detail for which Roy Pope became known.
With our world upended this week, the loss of such a constant in the lives of generations in Fort Worth, is a tough pill to swallow. Roy Pope wrapped up a lot of memories in its butcher paper and grocery bags.
The store will remain open from 9 am to 5 pm Mondays through Saturdays until its inventory is cleared out. Then, a Fort Worth era will end.