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Spec's in Austin


jess mebane
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Spec's opened in Austin, perhaps today or this week, on Airport next to Highland where the old Pier One died. I went in to browse, came out $91 lighter and I'm not ashamed to say I hugged the cheese/deli man, Richard. I think I actually began to cry, I'm not sure, but I had to call one of my MILs to come and shop with me for support and restraint before it was all over. He will be having a Parmesan show Saturday, and you should go. Tell him Jessica sent you.

Highlights:

Cheap hooch

triple creme brie

baked ricotta

manchego that's cave aged one year

sharp english cheddar with carmelized onions

italian ham, herbaceous with rosemary

olive/pickled artichoke/pepper/dolma/ bar

White Toque line of frozen goods, incl. pastry sheets to make Pep. Farms eat caca

boulder ice cream

frozen taglietelle from Italiatelle

Marquez sausage with lamb, beef and other goodies

fondant icing powder

chicory

bacon

mustard made by Sierra Nevada, yes the beer people

Their goal, by the time the store on Brodie goes in is to take 35% of Central Market's prepared foods share, and I've got a brand new $20 that says they'll do it inside of a year. No lines, Extra no snotty help, and a 5% discount on cash and carry.

Go nuts! Lemme know what you selected!

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I just went today and spent nearly an hour there.

You really think their food selection is superior to Central Market North's? I definitely feel that the cheese and charcuterie, at least, are inferior.

I've made a little Google Spreadsheet with liquor prices from Grapevine, Costco and Spec's. If you want to help contribute, send me a PM with your Google account name and I'll add you to the list of collaborators.

The liquor is cheaper than Grapevine but on par with Costco, except on scotch where I've found Spec's to be about $4-9 cheaper than Costco per bottle. Spec's has a much larger selection than Costco so for things that they don't carry, Spec's will probably have cheaper than Grapevine.

Beer selection is on par with Central Market North, inferior to Grapevine.

Edited by Kent Wang (log)
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I just went today and spent nearly an hour there.

You really think their food selection is superior to Central Market North's? I definitely feel that the cheese and charcuterie, at least, are inferior.

I'm sure you do, and if we are to judge by this soft opening of a pilot store you're also spot on; however, the Brodie store will have a rotisserie and call-ahead din-din capabilities. This is just Spec's getting its feet wet in Austin, but if we're to compare apples to oranges, then yes, whatever you said there was right.

We spoiled, fortunate Austinites are at the ground level of a Houston Spec's v. San Antone Butt's Smackdown, and I, for one as an innocent bystander with purchasing power and no patience for lines and bad service, am totally stoked for it.

Oh, did I forget to mention I am H-town from the get-down?! Silly me........ :cool:

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I think the real loser here is going to be Grapevine. Spec's has them beat on liquor (about the same selection but cheaper prices), food and maybe wine. They only maintain the lead in beer, and that has a much lower profit margin. Plus, it's an independent store, unlike Central Market, Whole Foods and Spec's.

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I don't think Grapevine will hurt too much, as they open Grapevine #2 on Monday in RRk (they are owned by Majestic out of DFW, and have a third store planned down south). Spec's defintley has some stuff that neither Whole Foods or Central Market has-more hot sauces than Tears of Joy, cheeses, 4 kinds of truffle creme, balsamics, etc. And with the cash price on everything, they will probably hurt any Twins in the area. I understand the next Spec's on Brodie will be twice as big(of course, I suspect that will also be the warehouse for their on-premise business).

FM

Frank in Austin

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What is it about that place that makes people weep with pleasure and dole out unsolicited hugs? I went last night and it was awesome. Among other things, I snapped up several cans of Heinz Microwaveable Chocolate Sponge Pudding with Cadbury's. I can't really recommend it as a delicious food, but I get unassuageable cravings for it several times a year and it is very hard to find.

As an H-town girl, I prefer Spec's to CM and WF. Though solid, Grapevine did not impress. The new Austin store obviously doesn't measure up to the Mothership in Houston, but I look forward to Godzilla Spec's opening down on Brodie. BTW, I've always felt Spec's is a little weak on beer. Considering the real estate they devote to just about everything else, it's a little disappointing to visit the beer aisle.

Nobody's perfect, but they come pretty darn close!

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There's a really decent sparkling display east of the Reidel glasses for $7 that I recommend you gift all your hostesses with. Better be a few left for me tomorrow, or I'm sunk! Veuve de Vernay, Blanc de Blanc, $7. French.

Hell, for that price, get one for yourself and don't forget the OJ............... :cool:

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  • 3 weeks later...

Grapevine is actually no longer independent. They're owned by a booze conglomerate out of Dallas. They've already opened a new one in RR and are going to open 2-3 new ones in Austin soon. Their selection seems to have gotten worse over the years and as much as I like them they can be less than helpful in trying to get you something they don't carry, yet Spec's said yes sir and got it asap. I've sure been happy with Spec's and their prices are definitely better than Grapevine ( admitted former fanboy) and on par with Costco. Can't wait till they open the one at 360 and Mopac, right on my way home. I have been to Spec's 3 times and can't wait to spend some more time checking out their food selections. I don't think that this can do anything but help the consumer. Lower prices, better selection, and more options to shop. yee haw!

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