Despite several proposals, the facility's future remained in doubt until 2011 when the Trader Joe's market chain announced plans to open its first store in the Houston area. The next year the chain opened that store in the former theater and preserved much of its exterior and interior architectural delights.
The Alabama in Houston was built in the same year as the River Oaks Theatre; both were owned by the Interstate chain. That company, which operated from 1905 until 1976, had vaudeville houses and movie theaters in Texas, Mississippi, Arkansas and Louisiana. I have not found any mention of operations in Alabama. Perhaps founder Karl Hoblitzelle admired our own Alabama Theatre in Birmingham, which had opened in 1927.
The Trader Joe's at The Summit is nice, but we seldom shop on the 280 corridor. If only Joe's had chosen a historic building downtown to re-purpose...