03/27/17 11:00am

Mascalzone Ristorante Italiano, 1500 Shepherd Dr., Cottage Grove, Houston

The multinational dalliances of the restaurant building at 1500 Shepherd Dr., a parking lot away from the corner of Maxie, have come to an end — for now. The management of the outpost of British restaurant chain Mascalzone Ristorante Italiano announced the closure of the location over the weekend, not long after rumors of the shutdown were reported on Houston Food Finder. According to a post on the restaurant’s Facebook page, the Shepherd location will be “merging” with the still-operating Mascalzone location in the shopping center at 12126 Westheimer Rd., west of Kirkwood and across from the Phoenicia parking lot.


Arrivederci, British Italian Style
03/24/17 3:30pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: HOUSTON’S NEW BIKE PLAN IS JUST A PLAN Bike Lane“The plan is really just a recommendation of where to put lanes. The decision of actually putting in the bike lanes in a given spot will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis, mainly as roads are rebuilt. Most of the money can come from TxDOT, TIGER, TIRZs, etc. It’s much easier to get that funding if you have a plan already in place. An example: Maybe your local CIP project involves tearing up a road and replacing it. Instead of repainting the road with the old 12-ft. wide lanes, maybe make them a reasonable 10-ft. wide and spray in a line for a bike lane. That’s a cheap addition to a project that doesn’t involve a lot of overhead that would normally come from a separate project to put in a new bike lane somewhere.” [Biker, commenting on Houston Bike Plan Up for a Vote Again This Morning Amid More California-ization Fears] Illustration: Lulu

03/24/17 12:00pm

Downtown Houston Skyline

Sponsoring Swamplot today: Houston’s own Central Bank. Thank you for the continuing support!

Central Bank has 4 (central) Houston branches available to meet your business or personal needs: in Midtown, the Heights, West Houston, and Post Oak Place.

Central Bank believes that change is essential to its success; the company actively pursues the latest in service, technology, and products. Central Bank aims to know its customers personally and to be their primary business and personal financial resource. The bank’s staff values relationships and strives to be available when you need them.

To learn more about how Central Bank can meet your banking needs, please call any of the following Senior Vice Presidents: Kenny Beard, at 832.485.2376; Bonnie Purvis, at 832.485.2354; Gary Noble, at 832.485.2366; or Ryan Tillman, at 832.485.2307. You can also find out more on the bank’s website.

Swamplot sponsors make this site possible. Find out here how to become a Swamplot Sponsor of the Day

Sponsor of the Day
03/22/17 12:00pm


ASCOT logo

Today’s sponsor is ASCOT — also known as the Alcohol Servers Counsel of Texas. Thanks for supporting Swamplot!

If you work in a restaurant, or in any kind of food-service or food-prep operation, you’re probably already familiar with state requirements for training in food-handling safety. And if you work in a bar or for an alcohol distributor, you probably already know why it’s so important that everyone who has anything to do with selling, dispensing, or delivering any kind of alcoholic beverage complete state-certified training in alcohol safety.

Since 1988, ASCOT has been licensed by the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission to provide TABC-certified alcohol-server training programs. That makes ASCOT one of the oldest and most established food and beverage certification programs in the country — as well as Texas’s longest-running provider of training in this important field. And ASCOT has been a preferred source for training in food handling in Houston since 2004.

If you’re responsible for making sure new employees are trained promptly and well in these particular areas, you can be sure they’re getting the exact program they need — in the most helpful format possible — by sending them to ASCOT. ASCOT offers its training courses both in a classroom setting and online, in both English and Spanish.

Use the discount code ASCOT on the alcoholservers.com website and the online alcohol-server training course works out to just $9.89 per class. The food-handling class costs just $7.00 — no discount code is needed.

ASCOT’s server-training program is certified by the TABC, and its food-handler program is ANSI Accredited as meeting the ASTM E2659-09 standard. For more details, or to sign up, head over to the ASCOT website — alcoholservers.com — or call 713.922.1223.

Make it a great day: Become a Swamplot Sponsor of the Day.

Sponsor of the Day
03/20/17 12:00pm

Loam Agronomics CSA

Loam Agronomics CSA

Swamplot is sponsored today by Loam Agronomics, proud purveyors of a new CSA program for Houston. Thanks for the support!

The veggies are more than sprouting: In less than 2 weeks, Loam Agronomics will start distributing its first weekly deliveries of fresh, locally grown vegetables. Orders have already begun! If you’ve been looking for a way to get a regularsupply of fresh-from-the-local-farm produce for your household, or if you like the idea of eating food that hasn’t been shipped thousands of miles, but is picked at peak ripeness nearby and available to you in 48 hours or less, then this program is for you. The first deliveries for Loam Agronomics’ brand-new CSA program beginMarch 23rd.

The crops (pictured above) are grown on a 40-acre portion of the company’s new 288-acre farm in Richmond (pictured at top). When you become a member of the Loam Agronomics CSA, you’re purchasing a weekly “share” of vegetablesfrom the company and supporting the production of local food in your community. (CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture.)

Loam Agronomics is a project of the same people behind Edible Earth Resources, the local gardening firm that’s been transforming some high-profile urban lots in Houston into attractive edible gardens.

If you’ve got questions about the CSA program or the operation and standards of the farm, take a look at the answers to the FAQ posted on the Loam Agronomics website.

Loam Agronomics offers:

  • Drop sites across Houston
  • Pickups on Thursdays and Saturdays
  • Signups available any time
  • Cooking and storing tips
  • Community events

. . . all for just $30 per week. You’ll want to sign up before the produce is all spoken for, though: Only 500 spots are available.

To join other families who’ve been signing up, just select a convenient drop site; fill out a member information profile; and choose a payment plan (4-, 12-, 26-, and 52-week plans are available, some with discounted rates). Do it all from this page on the Loam Agronomics website.

Swamplot sponsors get our readers’ attention. Find out here how to become one.

Sponsor of the Day
03/17/17 12:00pm

Headquarters, 3302 Canal St., East End, Houston

Headquarters, 3302 Canal St., East End, Houston

Our sponsor today on Swamplot is an innovative new addition to Houston’s East End you’ll want to know about. It’s called Headquarters. Thanks for the support!

Located at 3302 Canal St., Headquarters is a groundbreaking creative, collaborative office space located in a 35,000-sq.-ft. former warehouse in the heart of the East End, minutes away from Downtown and Midtown.

Flexible suite sizes at Headquarters can accommodate anywhere from 1 to 21 employees, and begin at $750 per month. The monthly rate includes fiber-optic internet, conference-room use, 24/7 access, and private parking. All Headquarters tenants have unlimited access to approximately 15,000-sq.-ft. of shared amenities that include a community kitchen; 5 conference rooms with flat-screen TVs; a game room with beer on tap, shuffleboard, ping pong, darts, and Pacman; and a 3,000-sq.-ft. interior courtyard. (A full-service coffee bar is also slated to set up shop in the front of the space.) Also: all of Headquarters is dog-friendly.

“There’s this huge misconception out there that co-working and creative workspace is only for tech startups,” says Peter Licata, a co-owner of the company that manages the space. “But in developing Headquarters, we intentionally created a brand and environment that should appeal to any small business in any sector that simply seeks more connectivity and flexibility in its work environment.”

For those who work independently, there’s an additional option: Launch at Headquarters will open later this month, where a designated desk can be rented for $450 per month, also including use of a dedicated conference room and all the additional Headquarters amenities.

Does Headquarters seem like it could be the right kind of workspace for you or your company — or a future dream job? Check out the Headquarters website for a whole lot more details, more dramatic photos of the spaces, and contact info.

Another great spot for your business: this one, on Swamplot! Contact us here to find out more about becoming a Sponsor of the Day.

Sponsor of the Day
03/16/17 12:00pm

Just Buyers Houston Website Showing Days on Market

Our sponsor today is Just Buyers Houston, representing buyers only in real estate transactions. Thanks for supporting Swamplot!

You may be surprised by Judy Thompson’s pick for the most difficult neighborhood to buy a home in right now: The Energy Corridor. Still. Really.

She writes: “For years the Energy Corridor (77079) has seen the lowest inventory of homes for sale, and it continues — even after the price of oil fell off a cliff in 2014. I can tell you from experience that any good house that is priced right sells immediately. A couple I recently worked with came back from an overseas post and were willing to spend $800K. They never found anything and renewed their lease at the apartment complex where they had temporary lodging. We were all surprised that the market was still so short of inventory out there.”

You can see Judy’s analysis of sales and days on the market for 21 Zip Codes through March 15th on the Just Buyers Houston website.

Another thing this chart tells us, she notes, is that “MLS area 9 is absolutely on fire.” MLS area 9 means the Heights, Timbergrove, Garden Oaks, and Oak Forest. Her recent data show twice as many sales there than in the second most popular area — Area 16. Judy doesn’t have anything for sale in any of these areas — she’s a buyer’s agent only.

Judy continues: “A puzzling days on market ranking was the Med Center (77025), which historically has been very popular. I suspect that the high number of days on the market for that neighborhood is skewed by new construction, which typically goes into MLS when the builder breaks ground and stays in MLS for months. I doubt if the area has suddenly become less popular.”

If you dig this kind of analysis of local sales data, take a look at the other charts updated regularly on the Just Buyers Houston website. And if you think you’d like to work with a real estate agent who thinks gathering this kind of information is important (she’s been doing it for years), get in touch with Judy Thompson (you’ll find her contact info on the Just Buyers Houston website as well).

Posts from Swamplot sponsors get attention. Find out how to become a Sponsor of the Day.

Sponsor of the Day
03/15/17 12:00pm

Oaks on Caroline, 4820 Caroline St., Museum Park, Houston

Our sponsor today is Oaks on Caroline, a new development offered for sale by Nan and Company Properties. Thanks for supporting Swamplot!

Located at 4820 Caroline St. in Houston’s bustling Museum District, Oaks on Caroline offers modern living spaces in a pedestrian-friendly, culture-filled environment.

This condo midrise offers 7 distinct options: one- and two-bedroom plans, each featuring luxury finishes, stainless-steel appliances, high ceilings, and stone countertops. The building was constructed with cast-in-place concrete and post-tensioned floors, allowing each unit a high degree of privacy. Floor-to-ceiling windows are equipped with low-e glass systems. Private balconies offer skyline views of the Museum District, Downtown, and the Medical Center.

For a quick tour of this property, watch the video above (or follow the link here). If you’re interested in finding out more, contact Nan and Company Properties at 713.980.0774 — or info@nanproperties.com.

To stay updated on the latest listings and announcements from Nan and Company, check out the company’s website — or follow the company on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.

Show off your next development on Swamplot — sign up to be Sponsor of the Day.

Sponsor of the Day
03/14/17 12:00pm

Screenshot of My Downtown, Houston

Today’s sponsors are the Downtown District and Plan Downtown — this time introducing an intriguing new online platform (see screenshot above) for understanding how different people use Downtown. Thanks for supporting Swamplot!

How does one begin to understand how people experience a neighborhood or community? Ask questions — and trust that people will answer!

Plan Downtown is kicking off its public engagement phase with the launch of an interactive online tool that encourages anyone who visits Houston’s city center to give feedback about his or her experience. The digital survey, My Downtown, seeks to understand the lifestyle patterns of all types of people who visit the city. Designed by Boston- and Shanghai-based planning agency Sasaki, My Downtown leads users through guided mapping activities to understand key destinations (where people spend time in Downtown for nightlife, dining, arts, recreation, events and shopping) as well as transportation habits (where they park, walk, drive, take transit, and bike).

“The idea comes from the concepts of itineraries and personas,” Sasaki Associate Brad Barnett says. “What does ‘a day in the life’ in Downtown Houston look like?”

As the data is collected, the information will be used to map habits and patterns. Are there common corridors that need more infrastructure support? How do drivers and cyclists enter Downtown? Where do people spend their time? Which areas already see heavy use, and which are brimming with potential? What can Plan Downtown address to better support all these activities?

The Plan Downtown team isn’t just looking for a magic number of people to provide data; it’s hoping to get a range of responses from people who experience Downtown Houston in different ways. That includes current residents (whether they work Downtown or elsewhere), commuters who work Downtown, guests who visit often or occasionally for leisure activities, or out-of-town guests who attend professional conferences or sporting events.

How do you experience Downtown Houston? Tell the Plan Downtown team — by using My Downtown.

If you’re looking for an audience full of people engaged with the city, Swamplot is the place to find it. Find out here how to become a Sponsor of the Day.

Sponsor of the Day