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Downtown Killeen left with food desert after losing H-E-B

According to Killeen city officials, H-E-B was losing thousands of dollars and had no choice but to close.

KILLEEN, Texas — A 60-year-old H-E-B closed its doors in downtown Killeen in October. Not only are families feeling the effect of not having a neighborhood grocery store, but downtown business owners said they're losing business.

H-E-B said they closed the North Gray St. location due to changing market conditions and the need for extensive facility renovations. 

According to Killeen city officials, H-E-B was losing thousands of dollars and had no choice but to close.

Henderson's Family Restaurant has been around for more than 20 years and is a staple in downtown Killeen. Since the closing of H-E-B, owner Whan Jung said business is no longer booming. 

"We lost a lot of senior customers who used to come here after they do grocery shopping at H-E-B," Jung said. “They would stop by and have lunch or dinner. Now those people are gone." 

H-E-B wasn't the only grocery store to close in Killeen. IGA Foodliner also shut down in August. 

The closure of both grocery stores left people who live in the area without a place to buy food. Now, the closest H-E-B is just over two miles away, across the busy I-14.

Jung said he fears Henderson's will close as well because H-E-B is what held the neighborhood together. 

"The downtown area has lost a lot of small businesses,” Jung said. "A lot of people left and H-E-B was a part of that."

Killeen Mayor Pro Tem Jim Kilpatrick said several businesses have looked at renting the building where H-E-B used to be. None of the prospective businesses are grocery stores. 

"H-E-B is the most successful food industry business in Texas,” Kilpatrick said. “They marketed and did everything they can, and they lost thousands of dollars each month."

Kilpatrick said downtown Killeen is an ever-changing market to a destination city. To make that come true, they plan to bring in the highly anticipated Mounted Warrior Museum, which will be filled with exhibits that focus on telling the stories of soldiers who have served on Fort Hood. 

"It will bring in approximately 150 to 180 people into this marketplace in Central Texas and we anticipate it being a $5 million enhancement to our income," Kilpatrick said. 

That’s a plus for Jung. He said he wants more military presence in the area to make his business stronger. 

"My biggest wish is that we see more soldiers from Fort Hood,” Kilpatrick said.

Kilpatrick said the National Mounted Warrior Museum will break ground in April. 

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