Rice Epicurean Markets is the oldest family-owned supermarket in Houston.
Founded by William and Edna Levy, Grandparents of the Current Owners
The first store opened for business on May 5, 1937, by William and Edna Levy. The store was named “Rice Blvd. Food Market” because the store was located in a small shopping center on Rice Boulevard near Rice University. The center was one of only two buildings in what is now known as the Rice Village Shopping Center.
Situated just west of Rice University, Rice Boulevard was an unpaved road and the surrounding neighborhoods of Southampton and West University Place were in the developmental stages. Most of the clientele in the early days came from the surrounding neighborhoods which were very under-served by retail.
Prosperity and Growth
Through the next 20 years Rice Blvd. Food Market enjoyed growth and prosperity in the original store, which when opened was just 40 feet by 60 feet. The first store was eventually enlarged on five occasions until there was no longer space on the site for expansion. In 1955, William Levy’s son-in-law Alfred L. Friedlander, now Co-Chairman Emeritus joined the business and two years later, his son, Joel M. Levy, now also Co-Chairman Emeritus, came on board. In April 1957, the family opened its second location which necessitated a change in the firm’s name from Rice Boulevard Food Market to Rice Food Markets.
The Emergence of the Epicurean Concept and a Return to Roots
In 1988, Rice Food Markets launched a new store concept that provided a unique blend of neighborhood grocery market and specialty foods retailer. Rice Epicurean Market was born and was hailed in Time Magazine as a unique concept in a sea of otherwise bland grocery retail. The spectacular growth of the Houston market prompted a tremendous battle for grocery market share in the city, and a steady stream of national chains began entering the market. Ultimately, the company returned to its roots as a neighborhood grocery store focusing exclusively on our Rice Epicurean Market store at 2020 Fountain View.
Committed to Quality and Our Customers
Rice Epicurean Markets provides an exceptional shopping experience. We continue to offer charge card privileges with monthly billing, just as we have since 1964, which allows customers to purchase their groceries simply by signing their names in their grocery bills. In 1995, we created the Epicurean Catering Co. so we could offer a full-service catering option to our many customers.
In 2002, Rice Epicurean Markets started offering online shopping with home or office delivery, Houston’s only area grocery store to offer the services with our own associates. Today, Rice Epicurean Market is merchandised to be in tune with its neighborhood. Close attention is paid to the regular stock of grocery store items, and our perishable departments feature the finest meat, produce, chef-prepared salads and entrees, upscale floral and European bakery goods. We pride ourselves on filling the special requests of our customers, and are always sourcing and stocking new and exciting gourmet products.
We are proud to offer our customers specialty items like HoneyBaked® Ham, Sees Candies® and Killer Brownies®. At Rice Epicurean Markets, nothing is more important than quality and customer service. We are very proud of the fact that the number of employees who have been with the chain for 20 years or more continues to grow.
Still Family Owned and Operated
Rice Epicurean Markets, Inc. is wholly owned by the founding family members. Current family members involved in the daily operations of the business are: Gary Friedlander, Bruce Levy, Scott Silverman and Phil Cohen. Tommy Friedlander runs the company’s real estate division, Rice Properties, Inc.