A Walk Down Cheezy Street: Richmond Avenue, Past Its Prime

Corner of Richmond and Fountainview, Houston

Pedestrian scribe John Lomax and Marfa City Council candidate David Beebe have, by this time, earned the right to make a few sweeping statements about various Houston neighborhoods. And Lomax exercises that right in his chronicle of the pair’s latest adventure on foot, along Richmond Avenue from Mission Bend to Midtown:

. . . the epicenter of H-Town cheese is the corner of Fountainview and Richmond. A four-story, day-glo, red, white, turquoise, and tan building looms over the southeastern corner there, and it houses a Sprint shop, a little downstairs bar with the godawful name Identity, a scalper’s office, a massage therapist, and a huge Darque Tan outlet.

Sure, Westheimer’s got some cheese, and is a little tattered around the edges in spots, but there’s a veneer of gentility as expressed by old-line businesses like Christie’s Seafood. Richmond, by contrast, used to have that sub-Landry’s fried seafood emporium King Fish Market, which despite the incessant awful commercials that polluted local airwaves circa 1999, is now out of business and practically in ruins. The whole lot of it is a great vat of rancid Velveeta.

As is much of the Richmond Strip. That giant sax outside of Billy Blues is looking more and more like the torch sticking out of the sand at the end of Planet of the Apes.

After the jump: how’s the nightlife?


The “glamor” — and most of the nightclub scene — having long fled the Richmond Strip, Lomax surveys what’s left:

Today, Richmond is Houston’s Street of Dreamz. With a “z.” In the Richmond Dream, every night is industry night. It’s a life of, as Wash Allen from KCOH would put it, “dealing with” strippers, or dealing with the kind of guys who are attracted to dealing with that sort of thing. As a philosophy. It’s full of apartment poolside parties, bad cocaine, the occasional dose of clap, tanning bedz, jello shotz, big ass beerz, and cold Jager machinez. (Beebe and I invented a drinking game – every time we saw a “z” used where an “s” should be, we had to do a shot of tequila. After we passed “Smoke Dreamz”, “Mary’z Lebanese Food” and a shop peddling “grillz”, the little bottle was dry.)

This entire dream is scored by a hit parade of ‘90s music. Everywhere we turned on Richmond, all day long, we were bombarded by the sounds of the Beastie Boys, Helmet, Pearl Jam, Radiohead’s “Creep,” Nirvana, Live, Lit, Tonic…This was the music of the Strip’s heyday, and it almost seems like today’s Richmond Strip denizens believe that if they play enough ‘90s rawk, if they recite this litany of sacred incantations, the glory days can be conjured into being again. Unh! You’re unbelievable!

All those Z’s eventually take their toll on the duo’s caustic wit — but not enough to prevent a jab at Afton Oaks:

Cheez Richmond peters out around Sage, and after a block or two of Galleria Extended vibes we were inside the loop again in Afton Oaks. This hotbed of anti-rail activity has always seemed to me a place for adults who never quite gave up on college life, specifically, Greek life at state universities. There’s a kind of frat house feel to restaurants like Luling City Market (for UT grads) and the Ragin’ Cajun (for the LSU folks) that permeates the entire area. For a well-heeled residential area, it feels boozy, not just because of the aforementioned restaurants but also the bars and the big liquor store there.

Photo of Richmond at Fountainview: John Nova Lomax

3 Comment

  • Doesn’t that building look like the place where Michael J. Pollack would go to touch up his tan on his way home to Colonial Square Apartments?

  • Wasn’t that building designed by Arquitectonica, the famous Miami based architectural firm? For some reason, I always thought that. Not sure though – does anyone know?

  • Everytime I drive past this building I see the sign for “Helena’s Brazilian Wax” –can’t help but chuckle since I have a friend named Helena and she’s usually on the phone with me while driving by.