Royal Blue Grocery to rebrand in Dallas as Berkley’s Market and close in Highland Park Village

Written by MLHA Team

May 11, 2021

Royal Blue Grocery in Dallas is morphing into Berkley’s Market as local owners say they are ready to put their stamp on the upscale convenience store and grocer.

At the same time, the Royal Blue Grocery in Highland Park Village will be closing. The shopping center hasn’t yet disclosed plans for the 6,000-square-foot space that faces Preston Road, but the locally owned-and-operated center surrounded by multimillion dollar homes usually has a waiting list.

June 27 will be the last day for the Highland Park Village store, which was the first Royal Blue in Dallas when it opened in 2015.

Two other Royal Blue locations — in the Trammell Crow Center in the Arts District and on Main Street in the Mercantile building — will transition to Berkley’s Markets on July 1, pending landlords’ approvals.

A store that has been in the works in Oak Cliff at 634 W. Davis St. will open as a Berkley’s Market this summer. Just before the pandemic started, Dallas City Council approved a $350,000 economic development loan to fund store and kitchen renovations at the building, which has been empty since 2017. The retailer declined the loan.

The owners said they are looking for a replacement location near the original Highland Park Village store and expect to make an announcement soon.

Zac Porter, one of three owners of the Dallas operations and founder of Berkley’s with his wife, Emily Ray-Porter, and their friend Cullen Potts, didn’t give a specific reason for parting ways with Austin-based Royal Blue Grocery. There were likely costs associated with using the Royal Blue name, which started in Austin in 2006 as a boutique grocer.

The new brand name has personal meaning for the owners. Berkley is the name of the Porters’ first dog, a rescued Schnauzer mix.

“We wanted a name with a personality, rather than a made-up word,” Zac Porter said.

Putting their name on the stores didn’t suit them either because they don’t want the business to be about them, he said.

The Dallas crew had departed some from the Royal Blue brand playbook to set their own product mixes and hold special events, such as wine tastings and outdoor burger grilling.

Using the sidewalk like their personal backyard was their way of meeting their customers, Zac Porter said. “We can’t wait to continue the tradition at our Berkley’s Market locations.”

The rebranding will allow owners to “further fine-tune” a neighborhood focus, Potts said. “We’ll still have great coffee, groceries and wine. But we’re doubling down on prepared foods with updated recipes and new items.”

The plan is to step up brunch, lunch and evening service to meet demand, he said.

Royal Blue’s opening in Highland Park Village was a response to shoppers saying they needed a grocery store in the center to grab essentials in a pinch. The shopping center closed its small Tom Thumb store in 2014 and carved it up into spaces for luxury boutiques.

Since then, convenient delivery options have exploded in the market from every grocery chain, Walmart, Target and Amazon. Consumers quickly adopted shopping for groceries online. Delivery trucks from Amazon and others are a constant in the Park Cities.

Emily Porter characterized the Highland Park Village store, which also sells prepared foods and wine, as “strong,” adding that the connections the retailer has made with customers, staff and local vendors encouraged them to look for a nearby replacement location.

“For our Highland Park customers, this isn’t goodbye,” she said. “It’s ‘See you soon.’”

Twitter: @MariaHalkias

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