05/23/17 1:00pm

The Dallas-based real estate and restaurant developers at Syn Hospitality Group are hoping to have a Houston branch of flag-slathered bar and restaurant America Gardens open later this year (as rendered above), part of their in-the-works Midtown Common development over on Caroline St. just north of McGowen. The group went after some early city approvals earlier this year to bundle together a handful of property parcels on the block into the edgy unreserved shape shown above. That footprint, mostly sticking along Caroline but stretching across to claim a bit of frontage on Austin St. as well, leaves out the buildings occupied by Core Church Midtown, which is squeezed between the auto and auto accessory pairing of Fast Traffic Auto Work and Austin Radio and Speedometer. 

The group has released a few renderings of the first planned restaurant’s red-white-and-blue-bedecked interior, as well as its large outdoor patio:

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Dallas Comes to Austin St.
05/08/17 11:30am

The green-and-yellow speckled warehouse at 1005 Sawyer St. has a new blue leasing sign from Braun Enterprises tacked to its forehead, as regular real estate surveillor Chris Andrews noted over the weekend. Braun bought the mid-sixties building last month, per county records of the transaction; the 6,360-sq.-ft. structure sits north of Washington Ave. sports-nightclub Social Junkie (which Braun also bought early last year), under the watchful gaze of the 24eleven Washington apartment midrise (to the left below):

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Center St. Industrial Turnover
05/03/17 1:45pm

The drive-your-drinks-home daquiri shop planned for former MJ Motorcars office island at 8275 Beechnut St. (in the parking lot of stripmall nightclub Club Tequila) isn’t just going to be a drive-thru bar, a media rep for Prime Daquiri tells Swamplot. The rep says it’ll have a full kitchen, too — and that the company will be opting for screwtop bottles for their drinks instead of a Louisiana-style tape-on-the-top arrangement, as far as legal distribution goes. The landscaping and portico in the above rendering of the remodel show options for customers on foot, as well — or perhaps even those who want to dine (or drink) in. The bar is planned near the parking lot’s Watermill Express kiosk, though going the nonalcoholic route will require self-service.

Images: John Mene (rendering); Erick Ganzo (photo)

Prime Location
04/13/17 1:30pm

Former Tree at Axelrad Beer Garden, 1517 Alabama St., Midtown, Houston, TX 77004Swapping in for the tubelight-bedecked elm that’s been standing in the middle of Axelrad Beer Garden at the corner of Almeda Rd. and Alabama St.: this way-past-sapling Shumard red oak, carefully trucked, tipped, and dropped into place earlier this week, as captured in the Yakety-Sax-tracked video montage above. The changeover comes at the end of the original tree’s years-long shuffle toward death, per the bar’s telling: the group was advised to evict the tree when they first started setting up the space — as it was already old, and had been hit pretty hard by that tire-revealing 2011 drought — but opted to keep it around for a few years instead.

Following a recent lightning strike from which it would never quite recover, the tree finally lost enough branches that the bar owners opted to put it out of its misery:

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Series of Tubes in Midtown
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.

01/27/17 9:30am

DECADES-OLD JIMMY’S ICE HOUSE ON WHITE OAK DR. TO TURN BRAUN, CHANGE NAME, TENANTS Jimmy's Ice House, 2803 White Oak Dr., Houston Heights, Houston, 77007 The current owners of Jimmy’s Ice House at the corner of White Oak Dr. and Threlkeld St. are in the middle of working out a sales agreement with serial redeveloper Braun Enterprises, Jim Reynolds reports this week. The late eponymous Jimmie Murray opened the place back in the late 1940s; the bar is currently owned by a group including Jimmie’s son’s widow. Current co-owner Eric Quinn says the likely plan is for Braun to lease the space out to a new tenant, who definitely won’t use the Jimmy’s Ice House name; he also notes that various grandfathered building code violations mean remodeling may be prohibitively expensive. Jimmy’s Ice House sits across Threlkeld from the Studewood BB’s Cafe, and across White Oak Dr. from the South Heights Retail Center, near both Fitzgerald’s and Christian’s Tailgate. The -ie to -y swap looks to have happened around the time the current owners bought the place in 2008, as part of the signage switch from Jimmie’s Place. [The Leader] Photo of Jimmy’s Ice House at 2803 White Oak Dr.: David Richmond/Houston Ice House

01/18/17 2:30pm

Spire Houston in former First Church of Christ, Scientist, 1720 Main St., Downtown, Houston, TX 77002First Church of Christ, Scientist, 1720 Main St., Downtown, Houston, TX 77002

Spire Houston in former First Church of Christ, Scientist, 1720 Main St., Downtown, Houston, TX 77002Steeple-themed nightclub and Swampies also-ran Spire is now up and running in Downtown’s converted First Church of Christ, Scientist at 1720 Main St., following last winter’s covert purchase by the group running Clé bar. The remodeled Mod space officially opened last weekend and is currently advertising upcoming events on a marquee along Jefferson St., including a Playboy-sponsored pre-Super Bowl party (scheduled against the Taylor Swift concert at temporary 3-story nightclub Club Nomadic, among other goings-on).  Other upcoming Spire events include this weekend’s Waka Flocka Flame concert and the VS vs Fredericks Lingerie Contest scheduled for next Wednesday.

Some promotional photos from the club provide a few views of the former altar (above, with a view of the original for comparison), as well as the added balconies and new seating arrangement possibilities in the main sanctuary:

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Downtown Conversions
08/22/16 1:30pm

Buffalo Fred's Ice House, 2708 N. Shepherd Dr., Houston Heights, Houston, 77008

Buffalo Fred's Ice House, 2708 N. Shepherd Dr., Houston Heights, Houston, 77008After a month or so on the market at $3.75 million, the asking price on Buffalo Fred’s Ice House has dropped by half a million as of early last week. The 37,500 sq.ft. property, positioned right across the northern boundary of the potentially moistening Heights dry zone at 2708 N. Shepherd Dr., sits a few blocks north of the ongoing culinary redevelopment zone near the recent Fiesta Mart breakup. The HAR sales listing notes that leasing the space is an option (and a matching LoopNet leasing listing has been added for the property in the last few weeks).

The listing claims the early-1980s ice house is now running on a month-to-month lease; the bar building is up for grabs along with the 2,100-sq.-ft. building formerly occupied by Speedy Cycle Lube (on the right hand side, both above and below):

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Room to Roam in Houston Heights
08/01/16 10:15am

Hops Meet Barley, 2245 West Alabama St., Upper Kirby, Houston

It’s a good bet the kiddie playground that once stood in front of the Mission Burrito (and later Überrito, after the Mexican fast-food restaurant changed its name) at 2245 West Alabama St. won’t be returning for the dining and drinking joint now slated to take its place. Überrito shut down that location 11 months ago. But a couple of weeks ago a sign for a grains-and-greetings-themed establishment (above) emerged where once a plastic castle held court in a sea of mulch. And newer signs on the property, reports a Swamplot reader, indicate that staff is now being hired. According to Eater Houston’s Amy McCarthy, incoming beer destination Hops and Barley is a project of Stephen Long, an owner of the Reserve 101 bar at 1201 Caroline St. downtown.

Photo: Hops Meet Barley

 

Missin’ Burritos
07/08/16 3:15pm

Fairview + Mason renderings

Meteor, 2306 Genesee St, Montrose, HoustonSo You Think You Can Drag hit the stage at  South Beach last night — a permanent move for the event in the wake of  Wednesday‘s permanent closure of Meteor Lounge at 2306 Genesee St. The bar and semi-aquatic drag and dance venue had been renting its space back temporarily while developer Fred Sharifi worked on designs and permits for the redevelopment of the East Montrose neighborhood around Fairview Ave. and Mason St.; Adolfo Pesquera noted in early April that the project (under the name Fairview + Mason) had been granted a variance request.

The application for that request included the drawing above of the 6-story parking garage that’s planned to replace Meteor; the exterior, perhaps following Rice University’s lead on parking garage modesty coverings, appears to be artfully encrusted with bicycles, with the words MONT and ROSE emblazoned beneath.

The variance request asked the city for permission to cross some building setback lines and to add some canopies along 2 different blocks on Fairview — the site plan below points them out, catty-cornered between the block holding the Mason St. electrical substation and the block holding Max’s Wine Dive, Cuchara, and Flow:

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Farewell on Fairview
06/15/16 12:45pm

2332 Bissonnet St., Greenbriar, Houston, 77005

On Monday afternoon a reader caught part of the smash-and-drag action at 2332 Bissonnet St., right next to Kay’s Lounge. That’s part of the exterior staircase of the 2-story retail-residential structure lying curled up in the foreground; a remaining member of the bar’s shrinking entourage of smaller structures can be spotted peeking around the fence on the right.  

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Greenbriar Goodbye
05/09/16 12:30pm

RAVEN TOWER’S TOWER TEMPORARILY CLOSED, BUT THE SHOWS WILL GO ON Raven Tower Bar, 301 North St., Northside, Houston, 77009The blue bar-on-a-stick at the northwest corner of the White Oak Music Hall complex temporarily shut down last week so W2 Development Partners can add more railings and make the space more physically accessible. The elevated 1970s former bachelor pad reopened as a bar and rooftop patio in January, 3 months before the first show on the semi-temporary main stage next door; a set of concrete stairs wrap around the elevator shaft leading up to the main space.  The non-tower sections of the Raven Tower venue, including the downstairs bar and the outdoor patio and performance space, are scheduled to stay open and host concerts as planned. Across the parking lot, White Oak Music Hall has another lawn concert scheduled for tomorrow night. [Houston Chronicle; previously on Swamplot] Photo of Raven Tower: Swamplot inbox

04/27/16 10:30am

1836 Polk St., Downtown, Houston, 77002

A sign zip-tied onto the fence around the parking lot at 1836 Polk St. is currently announcing an application by FreeRange Concepts to sell mixed drinks at the spot.  Up in Dallas, the company operates bar-slash-bowling alley Bowl & Barrel, bar-slash-dogpark Mutts Canine Cantina, restaurant-slash-music-venue The Rustic, and slashless restaurant The General Public. Houston locations of Bowl & Barrel and The General Public are currently under construction in CityCentre.

It’s unclear whether FreeRange has cast the Polk location for a sequel to one of its existing brands, or for something new. The TABC notice is posted on the full-block parking lot bounded by Jackson, Hamilton, and Bell streets just east of 59 and just south of the George R. Brown Convention Center. That block has previously appeared in the convention center’s 2025 Master Plan, as a site of possible future expansion:

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Liquoring Up by GRB
04/11/16 10:45am

Conservatory Underground Beer Garden & Food Fall, 1010 Prairie, Downtown, Houston, 77002

This latest report over the wireless from Swamplot’s regular tunnel correspondent comes from a brief venture into nearby subterranean territory this weekend to scope out Conservatory Underground Beer Garden & Food Hall. The basement bar and restaurant collection sits in the former Isis Theater building on Prairie  St., just east of sister-facility Prohibition and Main St.-facing Moonshiner’s Southern Table + Bar. Several of the Conservatory’s restaurant tenants spent last week quietly testing out their setups on diners during limited hours; the shots and commentary below come from a Saturday morning jaunt through the venue:

The entrance is just east of Prohibition, under an awning sporting the marquee “Conservatory/Underground Beer Garden and Food Hall”. The lobby level has a stairwell leading to the main basement area:

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In the Conservatory With The Knife