Retail rumblings: An unconfirmed but intriguing rumor is making the rounds that no-frills grocer Aldi and clothing retailer Ross Dress for Less plan stores at Palmer Plaza in the 3400 block of Palmer Highway in Texas City. It’s the same shopping center Chick-fil-A has been pecking around.

Officials with Edifis Group, which owns Palmer Plaza, couldn’t immediately be reached Friday for comment. Edifis in 2015 acquired the 98,000-square-foot Palmer Plaza shopping center, which is next to the new H-E-B.

At the time, Edifis, a real estate development and acquisition firm, said it would improve Palmer Plaza’s appearance and work to attract new tenants.

Along with Baytown Seafood, which occupies a pad site at the shopping center where Chick-fil-A is interested in roosting, Palmer Plaza is home to Goodwill, which sells pre-owned clothes and furnishings, Dollar Tree, T-Mobile and Ace Cash Express, among other tenants.

But Edifis has insisted it isn’t counting its Chick-fil-As before they hatch and principals with the company have cautioned the popular poultry products purveyor is still in a due-diligence period, so no deal has been done.

Meanwhile, it isn’t uncommon for Aldi and Ross Dress for Less to open in the same shopping center.

Aldi sells only about 1,400 of the fastest-moving products, mostly under its private label and at prices about 50 percent less than traditional supermarkets. Aldi credits efficiency for the low pricing. Ross Dress for Less is an “off-price” department store selling brand names.

Star gazing: Are you sitting down? A nearly century-old Galveston furniture retailer is crossing the causeway, opening its first mainland store.

StarFine Furniture & Mattress, which opened on the island in 1920, plans a mid- to late-February soft opening of its Dickinson store, 3503 Interstate 45, confirms Jody Stein, the company’s president.

“We’ve been a family business for almost 100 years and we’ve never spread our wings and tried other locations,” Stein said. “I’ve been looking for about four years in this area and we pulled the trigger on the new location.”

The Dickinson store will be about 12,000 square feet, Stein said. To put that in perspective, the first floor of the island StarFine Furniture, 3727 Broadway, is 12,000 square feet. StarFine Furniture still is very much committed to Galveston, where it recently invested in a major renovation.

Meanwhile, StarFine Furniture in Dickinson will be sharing a wall with Ashley HomeStore, which this month opened in the same shopping center and in the space formerly occupied by Palais Royal. Palais Royal closed shortly before Hurricane Harvey struck in late August.

The Dickinson site is among three Ashley HomeStore has recently opened in the Houston area, bringing the number to 14. Its first Houston locations opened in 2007. The retailer is opening in sites hit hard by Harvey and where people need to replace furnishing damaged in severe flooding.

“Even before Harvey, our business in Houston was very strong,” said Shawn Seals, chief revenue officer for Ashley HomeStore in Houston. “We’re excited about expanding our presence into Dickinson as we help families continue to rebuild after the storm.”

Taco tattle: Inquiring readers want to know what’s going into the former KFC/Long John Silver’s shell on a pad site in front of Kroger at state Highway 96 and South Shore Boulevard in League City. City officials confirm that crews are converting the building into a Taco Bell.

Yum! Brands owns KFC, Long John Silver’s and Taco Bell and other fast-food concepts.

Fried and true: After months of construction, Chicken Express last week opened its League City eatery, 1806 Main St.

Chicken Express, based in Mineral Wells, is known for its slogan “Our chicken can’t fly, so we deliver,” and serves fast-food chicken through dine-in, drive-through and delivery concepts. Chicken Express last year opened at 4210 FM 1764 in Santa Fe.

Checking in: Hurricane Harvey continues to alter business plans around the county. Consider the redevelopment of Mariner Inn, 1602 Seawall Blvd., on the island.

Jalaram Enterprises, which owns the property, closed the hotel in January 2017 to prepare for a major makeover. But before renovations could begin, crews would have to remove asbestos, which they began doing in the summer, Michael Gaertner, architect on the development, said.

But Harvey stalled progress. Andy Gandhi, a principal in Jalaram Enterprises, is focusing on repairing his flooded Dickinson home before he starts on the 60-room Mariner Inn project, Gaertner said.

Jalaram Enterprises eventually plans a “down-to-the-bare structure makeover with new electrical and plumbing.” Plans call for demolishing the office building, pool and three of the rooms. Crews will convert three of the rooms on the east side into an office and lobby. Mariner Inn opened in 1965.

Soul searching: As promised, Rita Allen has opened Allen’s Place, 37th and Winnie streets, at a former restaurant site in Galveston.

In April, speculation simmered that Simp’s Kitchen was planning an island return. But Alfred Simpson, who in 2013 moved his popular Galveston restaurant to La Marque, confirmed his sister, Rita Allen, was considering opening an eatery on the island’s East End.

Allen could not immediately be reached for comment. But like Simp’s, Allen’s Place serves up Southern-style comfort foods, including oxtails, beef short ribs, seafood gumbo, smothered pork chops, candied yams, mac and cheese and more.

Laura Elder: 409-683-5248;

Managing Editor

(5) comments

Ellen Morrison

Apparently Goodwill isn’t getting their lease renewed at Palmer Plaza:

Gary Miller

Wife, a German import, shops Aldi in Webster. She really looks forward to TC store. Loves the prices and I approve the products.

Daisy Harris

Laura, a year or two ago there were rumors that an investor was planning a 3000 seat theater where the Balinese Room used to be. Any new word on that?

lauraelder Staff
Laura Elder

Mr. Henry, they stopped returning my calls a long time ago. But I'll try again. Stay tuned.

Michael Gaertner

The Balinese project previously proposed is not moving forward due to family circumstances of the developer. So far as I know, the leaseholder still has the site available for development.

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