11/08/17 10:45am

HEIGHTS ALCOHOL ‘DRY ZONE’ NOW MOSTLY WASHED AWAY With 2 successful ballot initiatives in successive years, the rules that for more than 100 years restricted alcohol sales within the portion of the Houston Heights that was once a separate city (outlined in the map shown here) have now been whittled down to a single prohibition: Grocery and convenience stores in the area are still not allowed to sell liquor. In yesterday’s election, 1,479 Heights residents voted in favor of Proposition F, allowing the sales of mixed drinks in the district — in effect ending the quirky gotta-join-a-club loophole run through by alcohol-serving restaurants. 960 voted against. [Harris Votes; previously on Swamplot] Map of Heights dry zone: HoustonHeights.org

11/07/17 4:00pm

Interior demo work is mostly complete on a 75-year-old single-story brick warehouse lining Walker St. in East Downtown, ahead of its opening next spring as what its promoters are calling Houston’s premier soccer bar and restaurant. What might confer premier status on this venue, called Pitch 25  — beyond its location across the street from BBVA Compass Stadium? Perhaps the presence of an actual indoor soccer field inside, hosting league play.

Among the transformations planned for the 25,000-sq.-ft. structure in its coming rehab: knocking a large hole in the roof off the building’s Hutchins St.–facing west end — to let sunlight and rain into an outdoorish beer garden planned for the interior. Also, to provide sunlight for the interior trees:

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And a Hole in the Roof
11/06/17 4:45pm

Houston’s first board-game-themed cafe and bar is set to move into the long-mostly-vacant strip center near the White Oak hike-and-bike trail off T.C. Jester just east of Ella Blvd. next February. King’s Bierhaus (pictured above) took up residence last year on the opposite end of the same center (which is behind Restaurant Depot and SSQQ) — on the other side of the iCycle Bike Shop. The photo at top shows 2 businesses that have since left the strip; Tea & Victory and its lending library of 500 board games will go into the 3,300 sq.-ft. space formerly occupied by City Nails and Skincare. A first storefront for cake and cupcake vendor AshleyCakes will be moving in next to the game cafe.

$5 will cover an all-access pass for customers to play as many games as they want, including the ones shown in this photo snapped at a Tea & Victory pop-up event in May:

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Tea & Victory
11/06/17 2:15pm

Latest promised opening date for the new beer-and-wine serving, credit-card accepting (cash still preferred, and please pay before eating) Cleburne Cafeteria, now appearing in the late stages of construction at the corner of Bissonnet and Edloe St.: sometime this month. Photos from the scene show a new sidewalk, accompanied by 8 new trees from Trees for Houston, making an appearance along the Bissonnet frontage, in place of what used to be a portion of the restaurant’s parking area.

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Opening in November
11/03/17 1:00pm

A fourth Candy Shack Daiquiris To Go is planning to open next year on Washington Ave, just 2-and-a-half blocks to the west of the existing W Grill Margaritas To Go drive-thru at Washington and Durham.

Candy Shack is slated to take over the property at 5111 Washington Ave (pictured above), where Coast Eatery + Bar both opened and closed this year. (The property was listed for lease in August.) Before Coast’s tenure, the space was occupied by itinerant Mexican-food joint Taqueria La Macro.

There’s much more than just a drive-thru going into this location, however: The Washington Ave Candy Shack will include a bar, for drinkers not speeding off to their next appointment.

Photo: LoopNet

Packing a Punch
11/02/17 11:30am

Specialty hot dog shop and bakery Happy Fatz closed its bungalow doors for good yesterday at 3510 White Oak Dr. — after 6 and a half years in the Heights. “The uphill battle with the ‘neighboring’ house for the last 2 years became a greater challenge than expected,” reads a brief announcement posted yesterday to the restaurant’s Facebook page. A new 2-story, 4,400-sq.-ft. home was constructed last year on an adjacent property — a portion of which formerly served as a patio and parking lot for the restaurant. It’s currently listed for sale.

Happy Fatz’s owners write that they’ll continue to open pop-up shops in the Houston area. But they say they’ll be turning their attention to the Hill Country, opening a restaurant called Wildflour Artisan Bakery & Grill in Canyon Lake.

Photo: Kim W.

Out of the Dog House
10/30/17 3:30pm

A 2-page letter posted to the front door of the Fadi’s Mediterranean Grill in the Westside Plaza shopping center at 8383 Westheimer on Friday explains that the landlord has terminated the lease on the property and is demanding the tenant pay close to $71,000 in back rent. Fadi Dimassi opened the first Fadi’s at this location in 1996; with this closing Fadi’s is now down to 8 locations, including 3 franchised spots in Dallas.

According to the letter, the lease term officially expired at the end of January. Since that time, Texadelphia has moved into the spot next door, replacing the Potbelly Sandwich shop shown in the photo above.

A Swamplot tipster notes the restaurant was open for business on Saturday but locked out on Sunday, with all tables, chairs, and restaurant property still inside. In an interview with the Houston Press in 2015, Dimassi noted that the $18,000-a-month rent his company was paying for the Dunvale location had spurred his interest in purchasing real estate for subsequent locations.

Photo: Miguel Paez

Done with Dunvale
10/26/17 4:15pm

The mocha-colored drive-thru Starbucks that’s been brewing at 1801 Richmond Ave. since its predecessor building was torn down in January now appears just about ready to serve. Landscape crews are plopping in plants on the Richmond Ave. side; this view taken from an upper floor of the nearby Fairmont Museum District Apartments shows how the new building looks nestled next to its notable neighbors, which include the Big Tex Storage facility and King Cole liquor store across Richmond and Mexican restaurant La Tapatia just across Woodhead:

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Montrose Drive-Thru
10/26/17 10:30am

OCCASIONAL HAZARDS OF A FEEDER ROAD STRIP CENTER The Shogun Japanese Grill and Sushi Bar in a strip center fronting the northbound feeder of the Grand Parkway in Richmond opened its storefront involuntarily this morning to accept an oncoming 18-wheeler. The Fort Bend County Sheriff’s office has sent out the photo shown here of the restaurant at 7417 W. Grand Parkway South, showing the truck swallowed completely by the restaurant. The adjacent Gossip nail salon was also damaged after the truck broke through the interior wall separating the 2 businesses. According to the Sheriff’s office, the truck was carrying hazmat gasses; the words “nitrogen refrigerated liquid” are visible on the back of the trailer in the photo. The driver is in critical condition, and 3 people who were in the building suffered “minor injuries,” according to the report. The building has been evacuated. Update, 11:45 am: More from the Sheriff’s office: “The driver of the 18-wheeler has passed. We believe the crash was caused by a medical issue he was experiencing.” [FBCSO] Photo: Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Office.

10/25/17 12:30pm

Café Ginger is already at work on its new outpost in its next West Gray St. shopping center corner, taking the places vacated by both Mama Fu’s and Verts Mediterranean Grill. The Chinese food and sushi restaurant arrived at its original and current spot at the eastern end of the northern half of the River Oaks Shopping Center 8 years ago, taking over from a restaurant whose addition to the center was marked by the tacking-on of a flying-saucer-like corner tower to the previously low-slung art deco center. At the new spot at 1574 West Gray, on the western end of River Oaks Plaza, the endcap corner tower is already in place — it was there when the center was constructed.

But inside, there’s more construction to do: As new signs on the doors announce, the new location is scheduled to open in March of next year. That’s the same month Weingarten Realty plans to hold the groundbreaking for the Driscoll tower — directly on top of Café Ginger’s current spot.

Photos: Margo (River Oaks Plaza); Katie Schon (River Oaks Shopping Center)

End Cap Tales
10/24/17 3:30pm

This exterior rendering of Bungalow Heights, the new bar-restaurant going up at 1919 Beall St., the former site of Air Cool and the Junk Goes Green recycling center one block west of the Cedar Creek Bar & Grill on 20th St., shows a building with a lot of bungalow parts assembled in somewhat bungalow-ish fashion, being patronized by what appear to be normal-sized humans. But take a close look at the scale of the thing in proportion to the surrounding figures — and the actual framing now up on the site pictured above — and you’ll soon realize this is a building where every part is probably going to be a whole lot bigger than what it’s modeled after.

For starters, the structure itself measures 5,000 sq. ft. — about the size of the typical lot you might find a bungalow sitting on. This site itself is two-thirds of an acre. Contractor Avan Construction installed the building’s trusses last week with a crane. (The longest truss spans almost 70 ft. and weighs over 400 lbs.) Inside, you’ll find a floor plan significantly different from the typical living-dining-kitchen on one side, bedroom-bath-bedroom on the other arrangement of an unexpanded bungalow:

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Bungalow Heights
10/20/17 4:45pm

Without providing too much detail on the scope of the accompanying construction (“a remodel the owner wants to do”), KHOU’s Marcelino Benito yesterday interviewed one of the proprietors of Oak Forest coffee house and occasional goat-yoga venue Slowpokes, who along with several customers and neighbors has been protesting landlord Naushad Momin’s apparent plans to chop down 2 large oak trees on site — to add more paving and parking spaces.

The oak trees sit at the southern end of the strip center at 1203 W. 34th St., which faces Alba St., and shade a lawn (pictured at top) adjacent to the Slowpokes patio deck. Chopping down trees to add more parking might appear to be a landlord’s prerogative, despite tenant opposition. Except possibly not in this case:

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Oak Deforesting
10/18/17 1:00pm

A sandwich update is in progress along Dairy Ashford directly opposite Fern Dr., across the street from Stratford High School and the Spring Branch ISD athletics complex. The Subway sandwich shop sandwiched between the shuttered locations of a printing company and a small used-car dealership has now been torn down after a brief Harvey reprieve. A reader sends in the above series of photos panning the combined and now-cleared 1.1-acre site at 851 Dairy Ashford, where a new 4,640–sq.-ft. Panera Bread building is scheduled to rise.

Photos: Swamplot inbox

Up from Subway
10/16/17 3:30pm

There’s a lockout notice posted to the front door of the ground-floor retail space of the 1100 Smith Garage Downtown on the corner of Dallas St. and Brazos St. Droubi Brothers Mediterranean Grill, at 507A Dallas St. — shown open in the older photo above — is now closed; the restaurant’s website has been taken down.

Here’s the notice:

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Shawarma Gone
10/16/17 1:15pm

Workers last week removed a few trees in the way of a new partition of Fountain Green, the plaza that stretches between Buildings 9 and 11 in Greenway Plaza just west of Edloe. Included in the scheme: A new separate lawn space on the green’s southern end, separated from the fountain by a covered walkway stretching between the 2 buildings; a separate canopy structure on the new lawn’s east side; and a new patio just behind that and in front of Building 9 — where a new restaurant designed by Austin architect Michael Hsu is planned. The aerial and ground-level views above shows the path being cleared for the walkway. Looking onto the green from the south across City Club Dr. is the former Houston City Club building, currently on its way to being refurbished for its new life as a location of Lifetime Fitness.

Renderings of the space shown by Greenway Plaza owner Parkway in March of this year, before it was announced that the Houston REIT was being bought by the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, show the general contours of the plan:

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Fountain Green Green