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):


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:


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.  


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:


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:


In the Conservatory With The Knife
01/26/16 10:30am

St. Theresa The Little Flower Thrift Shop, 5334 Washington Ave, Rice Military, Houston, 77007

The business wilted several years ago, but the location of the church-run St. Theresa The Little Flower Thrift Shop at 5334 Washington Ave is getting a new tenant: a branch of Dallas’s Clutch Bar will be moving into the space. An entity associated with the thrift shop bought the property  back in 1991, and the store blossomed until the early ’10s, closing by mid-2013.

Clutch Bar’s website touts a Summer 2016 opening; as far as what will be served in the space, the site for the chain shows a large draft beer selection and mentions a weekly special on “adult milkshakes”.


Little Flower Going Wild
01/14/16 10:15am

Construction of Kirby Ice House at 3333 Eastside St., Upper Kirby, Houston, 77098

Down the street from Lamar High School, the would-have-been-Little-Woodrow’s now going instead by Kirby Ice House (“A Neighborhood Pearl”) is setting up shop at 3333 Eastside St., between the parking lot used for the weekly Urban Harvest Farmer’s Market and the Bammel Park townhomes. A post to the establishment’s Facebook page earlier this week shows that the under-construction building has just finished turning an icy blue, and the accompanying caption says that work is moving into “the detail phase”.

The bar’s across-the-street neighbors include nonprofit women’s career services center Dress for Success and the main building of the Islamic Society of Greater Houston — both groups expressed concern about the bar’s location in 2014 after the president of the Bammel Park Homeowner’s Association sounded a neighborhood-wide email alarm. Dress for Success filed a protest of the ice house’s TABC license that July; the license was issued in December of that same year.

A rendering of the building’s exterior shows the ice house standing next to a townhouse-free field:


Ice on Upper Kirby
01/08/16 3:15pm

Future Eureka Heights Brewing Company Warehouse at 941 W. 18th St., Shady Acres, Houston, 77008

Eureka Heights Brewing Company employees will get to work on beer as soon as they’re done “powerwashing the hell out of this warehouse” — that 22,000-sq.-ft. one formerly occupied by Jake’s Finer Foods on W. 18th St., half a block west of N. Durham Dr. (and even closer to the border of the Height’s historically (nominally) dry zone.) The brewery’s webpage also proudly touts its proximity to the trace of the Eureka Heights Fault, which crosses White Oak Bayou about where Ella Blvd. does (just a few blocks to the west of the newly leased space).

Other beer endeavors currently fermenting in and around the Greater Heights area include Platypus Brewpub (preparing to slip in behind the Tacodeli and upscale barbershop on their way to Washington Ave), Holler Brewing Company (planned for the Artists Alley section of the Sawyer Yards Development), Allen’s Landing Brewing Company (3540 Oak Forest Dr., a few blocks west of Petrol Station), and the seemingly-yet-unmoored Great Heights Brewing Company, which claims a numberless address on Heights Blvd. on its Facebook page.


Shady Acres at Fault
01/06/16 11:30am

Invasion Ice House, 823 Dumble St., Eastwood, Houston, 77023A little green man in a flying saucer heralds the looming takeover of the former Los Amigos space at 823 Dumble St. (at the corner with McKinney, a few blocks west of S. Lockwood Dr.). Los Amigos is prepping to be reborn as Invasion Ice House — a tipster tells Swamplot that the new owner wants to make the space into the “cool neighborhood hangout” that the area “desperately needs”. The 1,300-sq.-ft. building, formerly violet (and even-more-formerly lemon-yellow), has been repainted a dusty blue behind the sci-fi mural now adorning the front.

Invasion manager Monique Ramos applied for a TABC beer and wine license last month; a closer look at the signs posted on the space indicates that the interplanetary colonists will bring along Tex-Mex provender in the form of the Tako Box food truck.

Photo of 823 Dumble St.: Swamplot inbox


Cosmic Facelifts
01/04/16 1:45pm

The Eagle, 611 Hyde Park Blvd, Avondale, Houston, 77006

A Saturday-afternoon fire has temporarily flushed Montrose bar The Eagle from its roost at 611 Hyde Park Blvd — day-drinkers at the hotspot’s newish location reported smelling smoke and seeing lights flicker just before a manager ran downstairs to the first-floor bar area in the converted Depression Era-home to hustle patrons and staffers out. Owner Jay Allen told KTRK’s Deborah Wrigley that the permit had been approved for an already-installed sprinkler system in the building, but the City hadn’t hooked up the water yet. (No injuries were reported.)

Despite heavy smoke and fire damage to the second and third floors and water damage to the first, owner Jay Allen vows that the club will swoop back to its Montrose aerie (pictured above during the 2015 Pride season) as soon as possible. Meanwhile, the Eagle is screaming again (albeit only on Sundays) at its old bayouside digs downtown — “the dungeon” in the basement space at 709 Franklin — until repairs on the Hyde Park building are completed.


Back To the Underground
12/03/15 9:15am

Leon's Lounge, 1006 McGowen St., Midtown, Houston

Leon’s Lounge is back in business: following an abrupt January shutdown and months of rustling behind closed doors, the undisputed reigning oldest bar in Houston (comma, sorta-continuously-operating-under-the-sameish-name, comma, that-was-not-a-restaurant-or-ice-house-first) is once again serving drinks beneath those signature chandeliers. Leon’s closed in January with the colorful severance of the leasing relationship between building owner Scarlett Yarborough (daughter of Leon himself) and then-operator Pete Mitchell (proprietor of Under The Volcano on Richmond Bissonnet), including the swift dismantling of the outdoor patio.

A new patio is now in place, and service resumed following the bar’s soft opening in the weeks before Halloween. An official Grand Reopening under new operators Duane Bradley and Jim DeFoyd (joint owners of The Davenport, purveyor of “quality lounging” on Richmond just off Shepherd) took place last Saturday. While many of Leon’s familiar features remain intact following this round of renovations, the updated interior may no longer qualify the longtime Midtown dive for full dive status.


Back To Lounging Around
07/14/15 1:30pm

723 Main St., Downtown Houston

TABC Sign Posted at 723 Main St., Downtown HoustonWith a TABC notice taped to the window, a Sugar Land bar named Club Blaunsch has declared dibs on this space at the northeast corner of Main and Rusk streets Downtown, in the former site of the Reserve Lounge. The storefront at 723 Main St. in the ground floor of the Houston Bar Building had been eyed last year by Springbok — before the South African restaurant changed its plans and moved in 2 doors north on Main to the Capitol Lofts building instead. Club Blaunsch is currently located in the second story of a strip center next to the Target across I-69 from Sugar Land Town Center.

Photos: Swamplot inbox

Club Blaunsch
06/25/15 11:15am

Western Facade of The Secret Group, 2101 Polk St. at St. Emanuel St., East Downtown

It’s not clear how quickly interior work is progressing on the planned comedy club and music venue in the former Malloy Register Company building at the corner of Polk St. and St. Emanuel in East Downtown, but notable changes have taken place to the building’s exterior since Swamplot reported on the project last month. The graffiti scene spray-painted onto the building’s western wall earlier this year, facing the I-69 overpass a block away (at top in photo above) has been updated to show police chief Clancy Wiggum — wearing an HPD shoulder patch — apprehending Bart Simpson, a stand-in for the site’s own tagging team (at bottom). Also added: the Twitter username for the Secret Group.


East Downtown Building Funnies