05/22/17 4:45pm

PUTTING THE HEIGHTS BACK IN ITS . . . UH, PLACES “In their rush to capitalize on the popularity of the district, businesses and developers have awkwardly assumed the mantle of the name ‘Heights,’ even though they’re clearly outside the zone of its accepted borders,” writes Jeff Balke this morning for the Houston Press. Where exactly are those accepted borders? And which variation means what? Balke suggests something between a taxonomical scheme and an etiquette lesson on selecting the proper name for whatever flavor of Heights, Heights-adjacent and Heights-aspiring territory you may be seeking to invoke — from the historic city originally spurring the name, all the way to the fringe territories of Katyville and the Heights Walmart. [Houston Press; previously on SwamplotPhoto: Swamplot inbox

05/18/17 4:00pm

HUNKY DORY AND BERNADINE’S ARE SHUTTING DOWN NEXT WEEK AFTER ALL The scandal– and bankruptcy-embroiled Treadsack Group just announced that both Hunky Dory Tavern and Bernadine’s are closing next week. After the company announced in late March that both restaurants would stay open for the time being, the last day of action for each is now set as May 24th. The expanding group of Killen’s meat vendors announced on Monday that it had snagged Bernadine’s chef Graham Laborde (who stepped in to run Hunky Dory’s kitchen too, after Richard Knight left in February). No related updates from also-in-Chapter-11 Down House, or any of the other restaurants in the group. [Previously on SwamplotPhoto: Hunky Dory

05/15/17 1:30pm

The slumping 1930’s storefront at the northeast corner of Ashland and W. 11th St. has been given the all-clear to be cleared out, a reader notes from city paperwork spotted on the door late last week (with this morning’s daily demolition report hot on his heels to confirm the story). Both the street-fronting corner property and its taller neighbor are owned by a legal entity called Villa Incognito, a name which appears to have been created less than a year after the Tom Robbins novel of the same name was published. The company’s registered agent also appears to own the next property down the row at 519 W. 11th.

Photo: Swamplot inbox

Coming Down in the Heights
05/04/17 11:00am

The ex-service station sitting on the sliver of land edged by N. Durham Dr., W. 16th St., and Nashua St. is being remodeled and repainted, with signage already in place for burger bar Balls Out. The late-sixties space, home to the Guero Deluxe Car Wash before Re:Vive Development snapped up the property in 2015, was occupied by used car dealership Sabinas Cars and Trucks a few years before that.

The former service station’s canopy is still in place; the now-blank sign space on top previously served as a canvas for one of those Wiley LOVE murals:

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Heights Drive-By
04/19/17 12:30pm

801 W. 11th St., Houston Heights, Houston, 77008
Here’s a ghost-dotted sketch of what may soon inhabit that empty lot at the northwest corner of W. 11th and Nicholson streets; Adolfo Pesquera notes over on VBX that the project’s developers may break ground soon. (That’s both figuratively and literally — there’s a fair bit of concrete and asphalt removal involved in the job.) The medical-themed project is catty-corner from the 2-story building already housing the Heights Clinic (along with a Stewart Title office). There should be some kind of grassy buffer between the 31,010-sq.-ft. building and and the rail-turned-trail Heights hike & bike path running along Nicholson to the east, as well as a bit of open to the west toward recently opened Presidio:

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Doctoring Heights
04/06/17 11:30am

Retail Center planned for 628 E. 11th St., Houston Heights, Houston, 77008

628 E. 11th St., Houston Heights, Houston, 77008

628 E. 11th St., Houston Heights, Houston, 77008Retail plans along the stretch of E. 11th St. west of Beverly St. look to be moving in a more concrete direction once again — SRS has started advertising available square footage in a double-decker strip center planned on the eastern half of the block. The design for the site has been totally overhauled since the original ads for a Park Place on 11th development (the weathered signage for which is still hanging around on the property, and has been for the better part of a decade.)

The potential footprint of the retail space spreads all the way from Beverly St. to just east of metals brightener Bright Metals of the Heights.  A leasing siteplan shows the center insulated from the 11th St. traffic by a breathable dual layer of parking spaces — and even a triple layer on the Beverly St. side:

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2X 11th
04/04/17 10:00am

Down House, 1801 Yale St., Houston Heights, Houston, 77008

Down House Ventures, the legal entity behind Treadsack’s oldest Heights-area technically-a-private-club, has filed for bankruptcy this morning, lagging just a few days behind last week’s Bernadine’s and Hunky Dory filings. The company preemptively included Down House in a Facebooked list of Treadsack restaurants that would stay open for now despite the legal and financial question marks now hanging over the company, given the sudden mid-winter departures of side-by-side restaurant and bar duo Foreign Correspondents and Canard and the details of payroll and tax issues subsequently dredged up; D&T Drive Inn and Johnny’s Gold Brick were placed on the still-truckin’ roster as well. This morning’s filings also look to have included a motion asking for funds to pay current Down House employees, as Craig Malisow reports was granted in the case of last week’s Chapter 11 initiates.

Photo: Down House

Going Down in the Heights
03/31/17 11:45am

HUNKY DORY AND BERNADINE’S ARE NOT DEAD YET Patio, Hunky Dory Tavern, 1801 N. Shepherd Dr., Houston HeightsIn a statement posted simultaneously yesterday to the Bernadine’s and Hunky Dory Tavern Facebook pages, Treadsack’s management team says the twin restaurants at 1801 N. Shepherd (along with the company’s remaining establishments: Down House, D&T Tavern, and Johnny’s Gold Brick) remain open — and that it’s hoping customers will support the decision by continuing to eat there:We’ve filed Chapter 11 Bankruptcy for Hunky Dory and Bernadine’s so we can restructure our debt and continue to operate. This was a very difficult decision, and not one we came to lightly, but the chance to save the businesses that all of our employees have worked so hard to build and so many of you, our guests, have supported, made it a risk worth taking. We love these restaurants and will continue to fight for them.” [Eater Houston; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Hunky Dory

03/29/17 2:30pm

WITH BETTER LUCK TOMORROW, DRY CREEK IS ABOUT TO GET VERY WET LATER THIS MONTH Dry Creek Cafe, 544 Yale St., Houston HeightsThe spot on the corner of White Oak Dr. and Yale St. where Dry Creek Cafe (pictured) closed down last year is expected to open next month as a “neighborhood bar with food that meets restaurant standards.” Proprietors Bobby Heugel (who got his start at Anvil) and Justin Yu (who shut down Oxheart) know a bit about each, respectively. The newly renovated space at 544 Yale will be called Better Luck Tomorrow, they announced today. [Eater Houston; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Andy M.

03/29/17 9:30am

Houston Heights Run Resembling the Shape of Texas

Swamplot reader Brendan Mahoney, an Aussie transplant, writes in to report a discovery he and his running partner made just a few weeks ago while out on a run in the Heights area: “The new 2 mile section of the White Oak Bayou Greenway that opened recently looks like the great state of Texas.” Mahoney’s kinda-familiar path (and split times) are visible in the screenshot of his running app, above. Here’s a closeup:

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Heights Lone Star-ish Lap
03/28/17 11:45am

WE’VE REACHED CHAPTER 11 IN THE HUNKY DORY, BERNADINE’S STORY Hunky Dory, 1801 N. Shepherd Dr., Houston HeightsHere’s an update to continuing reports on the financial health of the Treadsack restaurant group, the company behind Heights-area establishments Down House, D&T Drive Inn, Johnny’s Gold Brick, Hunky Dory, Bernadine’s, Foreign Correspondents, and Canard: Mothership Ventures, LLC, an entity owned by Treadsack partner Chris Cusack and — according to Houston Press reporter Craig Malisow, the business entity that operates as Bernadine’s and Hunky Dory — filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection over this past weekend. Foreign Correspondents and its next-door-neighbor bar Canard closed for business in the shopping center at 4721 N. Main St. suddenly at the end of last year; in February, Malisow published a detailed saga of payroll and tax problems behind the shutdown, alleging Treadsack restaurants had become subject to IRS and state liens totaling more than $1.3 million, and that at one point the Texas Comptroller’s office had threatened a seizure of assets at Down House if taxes were not paid. Bernadine’s and Hunky Dory have been operating since late 2015 in a new building constructed for them at the corner of 18th St. and N. Shepherd. Update, 1:30 pm: An investor has filed suit against the owners of Treadsack, the Houston Press now reports. Craig Malisow also notes that the debtor in the bankruptcy filing has been granted funds to pay for the next employee paychecks. Photo: Hunky Dory

03/28/17 10:45am

191 Heights Blvd., Katyville, Houston, TX 77007

191 Heights Blvd., Katyville, Houston, TX 77007Some signage for Starfish is now stuck to the side of the former location of yes-that-Bradley Bradley’s Fine Diner at 191 Heights Blvd. (next to Koehler St.), Heights-area-restaurant cartographer Brie Kelman notes. The aquatic theme, expected to extend to the menu, extends to the interior of the space as well, which Kelman says sports a large fish tank near the entrance. Cherry Pie Hospitality (which also owns Pi Pizza down at the south end of the strip center) says it’s looking for Starfish employees, now, too.

Photo: Brie Kelman (top), Chris S. (bottom)

Diner Goes Cherry Pie
03/22/17 1:00pm

721 W. 19th St., Houston Heights, Houston, 77008 

Work has moved into the buildout and dressup phase for Phase II of the high-glycemic-index strip center at the corner of W. 19th St. and N. Shepherd Dr., a reader notes during a recent catty-corner oil change. The Benjamin Moore signage spotted around the new second building last year during the site’s flat-slab days is now reflected by buildout permits for the paint store, which should take up about 1,820 sq.ft. of the building’s 4,298. What’ll be filling up the rest of the space? Looks like the leftovers will house Austin export Tarka Indian Kitchen’s first inside-the-Beltway location.

The cameraman also captured a glimpse of Dallas pizzeria Cane Rosso‘s statue of a somewhat confusingly labeled suina rosso, which overlooks the intersection from its browsing position near the parking lot:

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Heights Austinites
03/20/17 2:00pm

Chase Bank at 500 W. 20th St., Houston Heights, Houston, 77008

Heights Reservoir land saleAs the digging around has started recently across the road, the Chase Bank on W. 20th street has gone up for sale, a reader notes. Most of the land west of Nicholson St. between 19th and 20th streets is owned by Chase (which has a drive-in on the block), as is the parking lot on 20th across Lawrence. The property is wedged in with those 2 pieces of Heights Waterworks land (outlined here in red) that the city sold last year to Alliance; the apartment developer’s plan for the catty-corner sites includes a pair of 8- and 6-story midrises plus a conversion of the protected reservoir structure itself for restaurant and-or retail use. The signage at the corner of 19th and Lawrence St. (shown above) note that the bank will be seeking its fortune elsewhere.

Images: “Random Property Gossip” (top); City of Houston (bottom)

Banking on Heights Densification
03/16/17 11:00am

Former trailer park at W. 11th St. and Allston St.

Trash cans, cinder blocks, and other debris strewn around the southeast corner of W. 11th and Allston streets are what remain of the huddle of 9-or-so trailers that has occupied the lot since at least the mid-1990’s. A set of permits on file with the city for Jozzie’s Mobile Home Park expired at the end of December, and the final exodus looks to have occurred in the last few weeks. Have the homes been given a new space to hang out in? And what will take their place, here on the 13,200-sq.-ft lot backed up against Citgo-station-turned-whiskey-bar Eight Row Flint?

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Sticks and Stones on Allston St.