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Royal Blue Grocery and a Tribute to My Favorite Grocery Man

My Granddaddy was a grocery man.

He wore a big smile and a white butcher’s apron every day for years and years.  He was never rich, but he was always happy.
My Granddaddy worked six days a week, smoked a pipe, ate two Oreos every night, and watched As the World Turns on his lunch hour with my Grandmommy.
There was no difference in the man who sat in church on Sunday and the one who stood behind the meat counter at work on Thursday.
Oh, what a fine man he was.

It’s Grandparents Day, and I’m thinking about my Granddaddy.

If my grocery man granddad were alive and could visit me in Austin today, Royal Blue Grocery is the first place I would take him.
We would put on our walking shoes, head just a few steps down the block, peruse the aisles of sundries and staples, get a good coffee to go, then walk down to the Capital to take pictures, talking all the way.
I’d hug him and I would tell him how very much I loved him.  Then I know exactly how he would respond. With twinkly blue-eyes and a great big smile, Virgil Clifton Henry would say, “Well, Sugarfoot, I love you, too.”
I’m so glad there’s a Grandparents Day.

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Royal Blue Has a Hometown Feel

Royal Blue Grocery isn’t really a vintage store, even though it reminds me so much of my grocery man granddad. It’s actually super trendy.  Maybe it feels so homey because of the pantry-style shelving. Maybe it’s also because they carry almost every product you need if you’re headed home to cook a simple dinner.
During the hot summer weeks I spent in Elk City, Oklahoma with my grandparents in Elk City, we followed a daily routine.
Grandmommy did her chores in the morning before the house got hot. We started cooking lunch around 11:00, so it would be ready and on the table when Granddaddy pulled into the driveway at 12:05.
We could usually make it until the dishes were washed, dried and put away before Grandmommy flipped the switch to get the window unit whirring. In all the world, I doubt if there’s a better afternoon nap than one that is taken on a couch in the room where a window unit whirs, my friends.
At least that’s how I remember it.
Every afternoon at about 3;00, the black rotary telephone that sat on a small table between the wall and the far end of the sofa would ring three times. Three rings what was exactly how long it took Grandmommy to dry off her hands in the kitchen and scurry over to answer.
Caller ID was a thing of the future, and yet, we always knew it was going to be Granddaddy on the other end of the line, but Grandmommy always answered politely, on the outside chance that it was the preacher, you know.
“Hell-ooo,” she said, with a slight emphasis on the “ooo.” Pleasant, friendly, unbothered, and not an ounce of hurry in her voice.
Did she need him to bring home anything for dinner?  A can of this or a bag of that?
Grocery delivery – the way to a woman’s heart.

Royal Blue is the Next Best Thing

Downtowners in big cities love to get their  groceries delivered.  I mean, is there anything more convenient than that, I ask you? But even with the ease of selecting items on an app and adding them to a virtual cart, it’s still easy to forget something. Butter, maybe? Baking soda?
Well, if you’re like me, and that happens to happen to you, don’t worry. Royal Blue has your back. What you forgot to order is probably sitting right now on a shelf inside this wonderful little urban grocery store.
If you need to throw together a cheese board and get a bottle of wine, just walk down to your closest Royal Blue.  They’ve got all of that.
Run out of paper towels or toilet paper? Got it.
Left your earphones on the airplane? Check. Got ’em.
Need a little something sweet after enjoying Texas barbecue on Congress Avenue? Oh, man, they’ve got all kinds o’ that.

As of this writing, there are 6 Royal Blues in downtown Austin and one in Dallas.  

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I think the future of these amazing little stores pretty darn big. Wide open. Like the untouched space between Bandera and Big Bend. Yep. I think their are some pretty savvy explorers steering the wheels of this wagon, my friends.

Expect to see a whole lot more from Royal Blue Grocery. 

Downtowners might stop in for morning Stumptown-roasted coffee and a hemp seed biscotti, then slowly enjoy it at a sidewalk table before the morning rush. Commuters who need a Royal Blue traffic detox can easily park, then log a few extra steps on their FitBits, and reward themselves with a breakfast taco – or drink their daily greens.
If you want a delicious hot sandwich on your downtown lunch hour, Royal Blue has it.  Millennials make friends at work and, if they don’t want what’s being catered for lunch at the office that day (what a deal!), they head to Royal Blue, in groups of five or so.
They sure are cute, always chatting it up, walking fast in mile-high wedges and skinny jeans.  The guys seem to like the Cubans and Reubens, but the girls usually go for the salads and yogurt.

Oh, my goodness, I’d like to try one of everything in this store.

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Midafternoon slump?  A short walk from anywhere in downtown Austin, and you’ve got yourself a Royal Blue snack.  From healthy and exotic chocolate bars to enticingly-labeled sodas I’ve never seen before, an afternoon treat from Royal Blue will perk up the slumpiest of office personnel or convention attendee.
Next time our granddaughter comes for a visit, I think I’ll take her to Royal Blue and let her pick out whatever she wants, then I’ll tell her some stories about how her great-great Granddaddy smiled all the time, shined his shoes on Sunday mornings for church and did good wherever he went.  I might even start calling her “Sugarfoot.”

Happy Grandparents Day to all of us who are blessed to be one, to all of us who have one, and to all of us who miss one.

Encouraging intentional adventure and a legacy of love,

PS – Do you have a grandparent-given nickname? I’d love to hear!

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  • Brenda Walsh
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    My grandparents were of the pioneer generation; my parents being the youngest of many children arriving to older parents, and I myself being born to older parents. I only had them in my life for a short time, but one grandmother dipped snuff until she passed at 94 – and probably had since she was a teen. Their lives were limited to their homes by the time I showed up, so my memories are limited, but I do remember being called Bren by all of them. Nothing special. Just a shortened name. Glad I got to know them though. They were all pioneers of settling the Texas Panhandle, and that’s just pretty cool.

    • Brenda McDearmon
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      What a great heritage, Brenda. Thanks so much for sharing.

  • Kathy Adams
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    I too had a pretty special Granddaddy,he would drive me to the court house square so he could go to his local pharmacy for a cup of coffee .Once he finished drinking coffee and I had my soda, we would sit on the courthouse benches to people watch. Granddaddy would peel pecans for me with his pocket knife,I thought that was the best treat. I remember standing in the front seat of his old pick up going and coming. Somehow I survived the trip. If you ever have the opportunity to stop or drive by the Hamilton court house, you would enjoy the visit. Thanks for the memory of your Granddaddy and stirring my memory of mine. I thought your last blog post was my favorite but this one has moved into first place. Happy Grandparent day to you!

    • Brenda McDearmon
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      Kathy, your Granddaddy story brings tears to my eyes. I love that he peeled pecans for you with his pocket knife. Thanks so much for sharing and for reading my blog. Love you!

  • Kayla Zeigenbein
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    Such sweet memories. My Pappa was an oilman and I was the oldest of 4 grandkids. He was so proud when my first job out of college was to work for Exxon (the largest oil company in the world) at the time. Not sure how proud he was when I went to work for lawyers My name is Kayla Gwen and his special name for me was Kayla Grin I love your blog. If I come visit you someday will you take me to all these cool places???

    • Brenda McDearmon
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      Kayla Grin! How sweet is that. Thanks so much for sharing your story. I will take you anywhere you want to go when you come see me in Austin! Love you!