One of the hazards of having a street-facing 3,000-sq.-ft. garden adjacent to your restaurant’s back patio: plant theft. But Coltivare chef Ryan Pera tells Bloomberg reporter Kate Krader that the Heights restaurant has more to watch out for than your typical fruit-off-the-vine snatchings by grabby customers. Namely: 3 of the restaurant’s fruit trees have gone missing, including “a 6-ft.-tall kumquat tree, worth about $175.” Pera tells Krader he was “stunned and hurt, but more awed by the fact that it was obviously planned. I mean, someone had to come prepared with proper garden tools, a truck, and the know-how on how to steal a tree.”
Southern-tinged Korean restaurant Anjuclosed suddenly last week in the Midtown Crossing strip center, following the latest in a chain of break-ins to its space. Owner An Vo tells Swamplot that the spot near the corner of Webster and Brazos streets, on the eastern end of the strip at 510 Gray St., was broken into “like 5 times” in Anju’s roughly 4 months of operation there; Vo says the last incident forced the shut down.
The now ex-Anju space previously held beer bar Gray’s Public House, which opened there after the departure of The Good Life. Around the corner along Gray St., the strip center currently hosts Buffalo Wild Wings, perpetually probing sandwich shop Which Wich?, River Oaks Cleaners, and Gyu-Kaku:
When an unidentified arsonist wearing a face mask last Thursday spread what appears to be gasoline onto the railroad-track-facing back porch of the Cross Track Ice House at 200 Magnolia St. in Old Town Spring — just 2 miles southeast of the new ExxonMobil campus — footage of the scene and the fire’s initial moments from a security camera aimed at the porch somehow survived the blaze.
Remember that incident last July when real estate investor and renowned neighbor-dismemberer Robert Durst — the Rice Village’s best-known resident — decided to spread his own bodily fluids in the CVS at 6011 Kirby Dr.? Thanks to the enterprising and patient reporting team at KPRC, surveillance video of the episode is now available for all to see. Together with the shocking scene included at the end of the HBO documentary The Jinx — in which Durst, retreating to the bathroom from an interview while wearing a still-live mic, appears to confess to multiple murders — the footage paints a portrait of a man prone to urination surprises. Durst pleaded no contest to charges of criminal mischief for the CVS episode, after he allegedly exposed himself to a cashier and then peed on a display of candy.
The newly released footage isn’t the clearest (and mercifully, any potentially offending images are blurred out) but it does reveal a few things, including where Durst stood when he began urinating — in case that matters to future customers of that CVS Pharmacy.
Fresh off receiving a $300,000 settlement for the unauthorized removal of 6 oak trees in the city right-of-way from Ali Dhanani and Haza Foods, owner of the Wendy’s franchise at the corner of Kirby Dr. and North Blvd., the city of Houston’s legal staff has turned its attention to 2 other oak-tree-hacking incidents at neighboring Burger Kings — one a couple blocks to the south at 5115 Kirby Dr. at the corner of South Blvd., and the other at 2116 W. Holcombe Blvd. at Main St., next to the Medical Center. At each location, according to a report from the Chronicle‘s Mike Morris, landscapers pruned an oak tree on surrounding public property excessively, making it “likely to die.”
Both Burger Kings, it turns out, are owned by Dhanani’s brother, Shoukat Dhanani, whose company, Houston Foods, happens to be the second-largest Burger King franchisee in the country. (And with a just-announced purchase, his Dhanani Group is about to double the number of U.S. Burger Kings it owns, to more than 450.) But this latest scuffle with the city is not Shoukat Dhanani’s first experience with aggressive limb-cutting of city-owned oaks. Two and a half years ago, Swamplot readers reported on the mysterious beheadings of oak trees surrounding 2 other Burger Kings, both of which also happen to be owned by Houston Foods.
The hexagonal clock mounted above the front door of the former Cra-Bell Vacuum and Appliance Co. building at 216 Westheimer Rd. was stolen over the weekend. Derek Brotherton of Scott-Day Paint & Supply, the company that’s inhabited the building since 1963, tells Swamplot that he and coworkers noticed the disappearance this morning, and that they are “deeply upset over losing part of the character of the store.” Photos above show the clock in place (above, in an older image) and gone missing (at top, taken this morning). Brotherton says he believes the clock had been in its current position since the building was constructed in 1935 — or shortly thereafter. Back then, the street was named Hathaway; it now sits on the north side of Westheimer between Helena and Mason.
The City of Houston intends to proceed with legal action in connection with the overnight disappearance of half a dozen oak trees from the public right-of-way surrounding the Wendy’s drive-thru at 5003 Kirby Dr., according to 2 separate sources. The trees were chopped down and ground up on site under cover of darkness Tuesday night as part of a renovation of the fast-food spot, which sits at the corner of Kirby and North Blvd. The removals took place on city property, but had not been permitted by the city.
“I have already been assured by the City of Houston’s enforcement officer that the city intends to proceed with a civil case,” writes Trees for Houston executive director Barry Ward in an email sent to members of the canopy-enhancement organization this morning. He calls plans to pursue legal action “a continuation of the recent, positive trend by the current administration to put an end to illegal tree removal in the City right-of-way or on city property.”
This yellow 2-story at 4601 N. Roseneath Dr., which has been on the market since April, popped up in a new listing earlier this month sporting the same $850,000 asking price. It sits on a 1.2-acre lot below Brays Bayou, just south of the University of Houston campus. Since 1994, the 1937 property has been the home of Earnest Gibson III, the longtime president of Riverside Hospital. Earlier this week, a federal jury convicted Gibson, his son, and 2 others of various conspiracy charges in connection with a $158 million Medicare fraud scheme centered around patients at the hospital. All are scheduled to be sentenced next February.
If you’re wondering why there are no photos of the foyer in this listing for the ranch home at 8402 Glenscott St. in the southeast Houston neighborhood of Meadowbrook Freeway, it’s likely out of respect. Because that’s the room where Sybil Berndt, the previous owner of this 3-bedroom, 2-bath home, fell, lay still face down on the floor for 3 days, passed away, and then slowly decomposed over the course of 3 months, all while her twin 48-year-old sons Edwin and Edward carried on with their lives, staying inside and watching TV and eating popcorn, potato chips, and candy.
There was a brief period after their mother fell, 2 days before her 89th birthday, when the twins considered getting her to a hospital, but they worried they might not be able to pay for her medical bills, according to investigators. Later, they worried how they might pay for her funeral. (It appears their mother had more than enough money to cover both.) Their mother, according to the twins’ account, never asked for help.
Investor Steve Moore, who’s made a name for himself by buying up, moving into, establishing unusual rules in, cleaning up, and lowering crime rates at some of the roughest apartment complexes in Houston neighborhoods such as Greenspoint and Westwood, has a new investment (and new address) — in Sharpstown. Working with an investment group, the owner of more than 5,000 apartment units has purchased a majority interest in the Gardens at Bissonnet condos at 7400 Bissonnet St., the 200-unit complex near Fondren Rd. known as the Le Promenade condos when it was home to the La Primera gang. Moore was sought out for the purchase by the Greater Sharpstown Management District after the condo complex was put into receivership last year; a series of security measures, which included changing the property’s name, were instituted as part of a legal settlement between the county and the property’s previous owners.
A man suspected of pooping on the sidewalks and driveways of several homes in and around the intersection of Byrne St. and Helen in the Woodland Heights has been apprehended and taken into custody, a Houston Police Department spokesperson tells the Leader. The story of the Woodland Heights excrement attacks clogged up the internet last week, with stories of the repeated front-yard exploits reaching international and local news outlets around the globe — but only after a repeat victim went to teevee reporter Jennifer Bauer with surveillance footage from a camera hidden in a tree near her home. The captured images (above) of the man dubbed a “serial defecator” in various follow-on news reports appeared to show the perpetrator in the act.
Perhaps the most astounding aspect of the arrest: The public-pooping suspect was apprehended after he was found urinating — on a wall at the Fiesta Mart at Quitman and Fulton, according to the Leader report: “Police arrested the man, who appeared to be the same man as the one from Woodland Heights’ resident’s surveillance video, and charged him with public urination.”
An enterprising Woodland Heights resident set up a camera in a tree in front of her home in order to capture images of the man who had been repeatedly pooping on the sidewalk and driveway of her residence and other homes in and around the 500 block of Byrne St. And . . . success! The animated image above, culled from surveillance footage provided to HPD and Channel 2 reporter Jennifer Bauer, shows the perpetrator in the act and its immediate aftermath — though, fortunately, the foreground leaves tastefully shield our view from most of the nastiness.