In 1872, Henry Henke, then only aged 21, opened a grocery store in Houston. Henry came to Houston by way of Galveston and New Orleans. He had three employees and lived above the store. Ten years later, he hired Camille Pillot as bookkeeper. Pillot did such a good job that Henke made him a partner in 1885. The company history took a turn to being renamed Henke & Pillot.
In 1892, Henke & Pillot moved to Milam and Congress Streets. By 1921, they had expanded as well as constructed new buildings. They now covered half a block. They started a self-serve department and sold at both wholesale and retail prices. By 1925, they had two locations and a warehouse. Henke & Pillot had over 30 departments and employed nearly 300 people. This diversity, along with the self service, took on some of the characteristics of a modern day supermarket.
In 1922, Henke & Pillot had celebrated its 50th anniversary with a huge open house. Their motto was “The Most of the Best for the Price.” Their annual sales were approaching $5 million.
Pillot Takes Over
Henry Henke had long since left Houston back in 1901 for health reasons. Camille Pillot had since run the company. His right hand man, C. H. Kuhlmann, served as general manager. Kuhlmann was the original Mr. Henke’s brother-in-law. Pillot’s son, Norman V. Pillot, had become part of the business by then.
Camille Pillot, who was obviously interested in the flow of goods to the city, took managing roles in the development of Houston’s Ship Channel. He was by then able to build a large house on McKinney Avenue. Pillot also diverted himself with his 100-foot yacht. During World War I, the vessel, named the Augusta, was utilized by the military for coastal vigilance.
In 1955, Kroger bought Henke & Pillot, which was still a profitable concern. Within 11 years, Kroger had discontinued the Henke & Pillot brand.
- Year Started: 1872
- Year Ended: 1966
- Origin Of Name: Name of Founder
- Location Sales: Houston, Texas area
- Brand Name Predecessor: N/A
- Brand Name Successor: Kroger
- Owner Original: Henry Henke and Camille Pillot
- Owner While In Use: Henke and Pillot Families
- Owner Successor: Kroger
- Year Resurrected: N/A
- What’s Popular Today: Kroger
- Naics Code: 445110
- Location Headquarters: Houston, Texas USA