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New era, same shop: Austin's oldest grocery store finally reopens after pandemic closure

(Laura Figi/Austonia)

Legacy grocery store and deli Avenue B Grocery & Market, 4403 Avenue B, re-opened its hundred-year-old doors this week, serving up sandwiches after two years of a pandemic-induced closure.


Mason, the 10th owner of the location, has been running the shop largely by himself since his family bought the location to save it from closing in the early ‘90s. Mason greeted customers with a smile and a homemade sandwich on Friday while telling them a little bit about the history behind the building.

Mason, who would not let us photograph his face, starts removing the paper that has covered the menus for two years. (Laura Figi/Austonia)


“I'm still testing the water, gauging how things are gonna go and slowly bringing things back online,” Mason told Austonia. “I haven't personally been telling people I’m open yet because I wasn’t ready. Only today, as you saw, did I uncover the menu.”

Aside from the groceries and famous sandwiches, the store sells Maine Root sodas, candy, dinnerware, records and miscellaneous knick-knacks. If you ask, Mason will pull down some antiques from the shelves behind the till.

Try Ave. B's R.L.T. (Ross a.k.a avocado, mushrooms, green olives, lettuce and tomato), Mason's take on the classic sandwich. (Laura Figi/Austonia)


The store unofficially opened when passerbys saw lights inside on Wednesday but Mason said he never told anyone he was opening, it just sorta happened. Mason didn’t uncover his sandwich menus until Friday.

“It's my social life, you know, that's how I meet people and people come to visit me,” Mason said. “People have been very understanding. I wanted to be more relaxed and social–it used to be so busy.”

First-time Ave. B visitor Rose Bowditch recently moved to the Hyde Park neighborhood from California and told Austonia she had been waiting for the store to open up so she could see what was inside. Mason offered her roast beef samples while he helped her dig for jars.

Rose bought some mason jars and a teacup on her first visit. (Laura Figi/Austonia)


Meanwhile, Brianne Bowland and John Lyman began eating Mason’s sandwiches when Lyman started working nearby. The two said they’ve become big fans since and had been waiting for the reopening.

Bowland and Lyman took in all the sights upon their first time back in the building. (Laura Figi/Austonia)


“(Ave. B) is like a go-to for everyone in my company to come for lunch,” Lyman said. “I even have a T-shirt. I've always just loved that it's a really eclectic selection of things on the shelf–and then the sandwiches are really pretty special.”

Mason accepts call-in orders at all times except the busy rush hour at noon, during which he asks for your patience as he’s a one-man band. But patrons are free to stop by from 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Thursday-Monday for a great sandwich, conversation and a beer now that the store is back open.

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