12/12/18 2:45pm

Landing with a thud on the city planning commission’s dais this week: the rendering above depicting what Arizona-based beer and pizza chain Bottled Blonde wants to do to the former Weiner’s Dry Goods Store No. 12 at 4901 Washington Ave. Most of the building’s original architectural details — for instance, the signage and storefront entrance shown above at Durham Dr. —  are long-gone according to Tim Cisneros of Cisneros Design Studio, the firm responsible for the planned makeover.

And so the renovations Bottled Blonde has planned will look more forward than backward in order to reshape the structure from what it is now, a shuttered Cash America Pawn branch:

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4901 Washington
12/07/18 11:30am

ARE THE NEW FITZGERALD’S OWNERS PLANNING TO BRING DOWN THE HOUSE? “They came and tested for asbestos,” Fitzgerald’s longtime owner Sara Fitzgerald tells the Chronicle’s Marcy de Luna, “so I think they’re looking to tear it down. It was their original intention to build a high-rise there.” Fitzgerald sold Fitzgerald’s along with 3 home lots behind it on E. 6½ St. in July to the same Chicago-based company, Easy Park, that’s been planning that automated parking garage a few blocks west down White Oak Dr. in place of the existing, analog garage next to Tacos A Go Go (which it also owns, along with some other retail nearby). She’s now renting the building at 2706 White Oak from her new landlord and running the 41-year-old business remotely from Seguin, Texas, outside San Antonio, de Luna reports. Following a spree of farewell shows scheduled throughout the month, the club will close with a New Year’s Eve party featuring ’70s and ’80s cover band SKYROCKET! [Houston Chronicle; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Caramels D.

12/06/18 4:00pm

THE MARQUIS II IS GETTING ITS SECOND ENCORE Well, that was fast. After shutting down on Sunday without any timeline for a return, the Marquis II reopened at 2 p.m. on Tuesday, according to a note posted on Facbeook by longtime bar employee Al Jara. According to the Chronicle’s Marcy de Luna, Jara is now the owner of the place, having purchased it from his boss during the 2-day timeout. The last time a Marquis employee pulled a stunt like this, it was a pair of devoted cocktail waitresses who bought the place after the owner, their boss at the time, died in the late ’60s. (Adding “II” to the name was their idea.) In this case the former owner is still alive, just sick of dealing with the sustained construction activity outside the bar on Bissonnet St., which Jara says has cost the business $1.2 to $1.5 million since it began in 2014. “They’ve broken up our parking lot and we are not getting business because people can’t access us,” he tells de Luna. [Houston Chronicle; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Marquis II

12/03/18 12:15pm

A flyer posted on the Marquis II at 2631 Bissonnet yesterday announces that the place is now closed indefinitely, leaving West University almost entirely devoid of bars (except for the one inside the Whole Foods on Bellaire Blvd.). The Marquis II’s predecessor, the Marquis, opened in the then-fledgling River Oaks Shopping Center in 1945. After the bar’s original owner died in the late 1960s, a pair of cocktail waitresses bought it and decamped to Bissonnet and Buffalo Spdwy., where the suffix became part of the venue’s name.

Following a stint at Bissonnet and Weslayan, the bar wound up in its current spot near Kirby in 1985. Houston architect Lars Bang had originally designed the building to house a branch of California donut chain The Big Donut, which it did until the 1970s when a gentleman’s lounge dubbed The Bunny Club blacked out the windows and took over. It left after a fire in the early ’80s, but not entirely: During the Marquis II’s last major remodel in 2011, workers uncovered a painting of a women wearing a low-cut outfit with a bushy tail that had been hiding behind one of the building’s walls, an unmistakable relic of the shuttered strip club. “Although badly charred,” according to the bar’s website, “the painting underwent a little restoration and still hangs proudly on our wall.

Photos: Marquis II

Last Last Call
10/22/18 2:45pm

A SATURDAY NIGHT SWAN SONG AT SPRUCE GOOSE: SOCIAL FLYERS CLUB This past weekend was the last one ever for the concert venue known as Spruce Goose: Social Flyers Club on the second floor of 809 Congress, across from Market Square Park and directly above Henke and Pillot. The 100- to 300-person club only opened up earlier this year, but managed to stay booked through the summer and all the way up until its finale on Saturday, which featured — among others — self-described “Punkish?” band Branagan, shown sending things off in the photo above. [Spruce Goose: Social Flyers Club] Photo: Branagan

10/12/18 11:45am

Spotted on the Instagram story for a not-yet-open venue calling itself The Gypsy Poet: TABC signage going up where it plans to move into Core Church Midtown‘s former home at 2404 Austin St. It’s the fifth liquor-purveying establishment planned for the block — bounded by McIlhenny, Austin, McGowen, and Caroline streets — in the past year-and-a-half, none of which are open yet. But which together have now succeeded in reserving almost all of the space there for themselves.

According to its pastor Jim Stern, Core Church had been negotiating to move into a smaller spot at the back 2404 when the landlord tabled that option and switched its current lease over to a month-to-month agreement. Shortly after, in mid-February, the church was given 60 days to hit the road. It left in mid-March. “I am wondering if we were ‘pushed’ out because of the bars,” Stern tells Swamplot.

Photos: The Gypsy Poet (sign); Core Church (Jim S.)

Change Comes Knocking
10/02/18 1:30pm

As advertised by the banner fronting Montrose Blvd., the wine bar and its outdoor drinking area are now open for business. Getting things ready inside the venue took a little longer than it did to set up fencing. After the bottles went up in late August, the front door of the former homeless shelter stayed closed to patrons for a little over a month.

Audubon Place
10/01/18 12:30pm

Drink specials set the stage not only for what Moon Tower Inn billed as a “gluttonous celebration” of its 8-year anniversary 2 weeks ago, they also helped management get rid of all its inventory so that the venue could close down while workers install a new patio in place of its old one. Following 3 days of clearance festivities, the bar ran dry in the afternoon last Sunday — although some “cheap ass” food remained in stock until Friday, August 25, when it finally shut its doors. Now, a Swamplot reader sends the photo at top showing what used to be the Moon Tower’s covered patio transformed into an earthen field. From it, the new heated and cooled outdoor seating area will materialize with help from the equipment pictured above.

It’ll span the yard between the corner of Canal and North Ennis streets and the shipping container that architecture firm Kinetic Design Lab repurposed for the bar’s reopening in 2012:

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3004 Canal St.
09/27/18 11:30am

AMERICA GARDENS DECLARES VICTORY FOLLOWING 2-MONTH CROWDFUNDING CAMPAIGN More than $230,000 have now been raised by online investors who pledged allegiance to the planned bar with their wallets over the summer. Although there had been some work at the property before the campaign kicked off in July, the developer Syn Hospitality claims it’s relying on the additional funds in order to really get down to business at the site on the corner of Caroline and McGowen in what it’s calling “East Midtown.” It plans to keep accepting money until November 15. [Previously on Swamplot] Rendering: Syn Hospitality

09/25/18 4:30pm

Note: This story has been updated.

Parts left over from the metal barn that Black Page Brewing leased out beside White Oak Bayou out a few years back are now lying in a heap next to a wooden skeleton that’s taken the demolished structure’s place. The deconstruction began last month according to neighbors who called 311 on August 31 to report that it was happening, potentially, they said, without the required permits. An inspector showed up the next day to check things out, one of several field trips the city would make to the planned brewpub’s digs at the end of Glen Park St. over the next few weeks in response to multiple follow-up calls from nearby residents.

By the time a demo permit did show up last Friday, the site had already been tagged twice by city officials: first for the premature teardown, and once again — as shown below — for additional unpermitted work:

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Near Northside
09/24/18 2:15pm

WHO’S DRINKING IN D&W LOUNGE AT 7 AM? Until recently, a lot of “third shift workers on their way home” from the Maxwell House coffee plant 3 blocks up Milby St., reports John Nova Lomax in his recent Vice ode to the bar. (There’s no getting away with it under current regs, but — he adds — D&W used to be a 24-7 establishment.) “It was also a hit with weary cops and assistant district attorneys,” says Lomax. The coffee plant closed down over the summer, but the bar’s hours remain the same. [Vice; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Nathan F.

09/21/18 5:00pm

Here’s what the former Wabash Feed & Garden Store on Washington looks like with a second level stacked on top of its original storefront. Workers are now climbing around the outdoor portions of the new upstairs, setting the scene for what’s coming next.

What exactly they’re planning hasn’t shown up in the form of any physical signage yet, but some digital breadcrumbs dug up by a HAIF poster hint at what they’ve got in mind. Two active Facebook pages — one for something called Warsaw Houston, the other for “Axis & Alibi” currently sport similar branding and claim Wabash’s address as their own. Late last year, another page with the title Van Nuys made its internet debut with a 5701 Washington address, too — but it’s since been taken offline.

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5701 Washington
09/18/18 3:00pm

As heralded by strange sensations earlier this month, crews have begun transforming the former Montrose Mining Company into Houston’s second Postino Wine Bar by stripping the covered patio shown above from the building’s east side. So far, the rest of its gray brick exterior remains unchanged, except a portion of the facade on Grant St. that’s recently gone yellow as part of the redo:

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805 Pacific St.
09/04/18 4:00pm

POSTINO WINE BAR IS GETTING ALL TINGLY AGAIN ABOUT OPENING A NEW LOCATION IN AN OLD BUILDING Back in April, the Chronicle’s Greg Morago reported that the management behind Postino Wine Bar “got goosebumps” while checking out the portion of the old Pappas Restaurants complex off Yale St. that eventually became their debut Houston location in Heights Mercantile. Now, the sensation has come back to haunt them: “Walking into the old Montrose Mining Company – such a storied space that’s been a neighborhood gathering space since the 1970s – gave us goosebumps,” the chain’s owner tells him. And so: Renovations will begin soon to bring the longtime gay bar at 805 Pacific St. back into service as Houston’s second Postino. The venue’s former proprietor Charles Armstrong sold it to a group overseen by Fred Sharifi — the owner of the neighboring Baba Yega Cafe — in January, following the bar’s shutdown in 2016. [Houston Chronicle; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Swamplox inbox

08/23/18 12:15pm

The aftermath of Bacco’s Wine Garden’s latest design choice at 3611 Montrose Blvd. has the place looking a little less like a homeless shelter and more like a bar.  Empty bottles were as close as the venue could get to the real thing before its TABC license got approved on Tuesday. Now that that’s all squared away, real booze will be stored inside.

It’s a marketing strategy similar to the one Postino employed with the bright yellow wine promos hung up on its Heights Mercantile patio before it opened. Except by the looks of their attachment, these reds, whites — and even a few proseccos — are here to stay.

They line the bar’s fencing all the way out to the sidewalk:

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The Pre-Game