HOUSTON — A former popular pizzaria and general store here is about to get new life as a small grocery and sub sandwich shop.
Rob Warren, of Piqua, has leased the building on Ohio 66 next to Houston High School and expects to open there early in January.
“I’m reopening a little country store in Houston that’s been there forever, but it’s been closed for a couple years,” he said recently. “I’m taking it back to what I remember it used to be.”
The 1984 Houston grad has been operating an appliance business in Florida with his father for 28 years. He has returned to Ohio and wants to “bring back a store to the community,” he said. “They needed it and I needed a career change.”
Warren’s Market will stock basic groceries and convenience-store items, “so if you forget something, you don’t have to drive 10 miles to Piqua or Sidney,” he said. He hopes to add the sale of lottery tickets and of subs.
“The teachers at the school suggested I do fresh sub sandwiches,” Warren said. He also hopes that students will “hang out” in the store, as he used to do when he attended school.
The building’s owner, John Rowley, of Troy, acquired the property with a house and two house trailers about nine months ago. He had planned to convert the store into a house. He’s pleased that Warren was interested in putting another shop there, instead.
“It will be nice for the community,” Rowley said. “I’ve spent a few thousand dollars fixing mechanical things. I’ve added a heat pump instead of a propane furnace. We’ll remove some interior structures so (Warren will) be able to see everyone in the store.”
Warren thinks family members will help to staff the store and he may hire one part-time and one full-time employee. He has been surprised by the positive feedback he’s received so far.
“I got an outpouring on social media,” he said. “It feels good to bring something back that’s needed.”