03/22/17 1:00pm

721 W. 19th St., Houston Heights, Houston, 77008 

Work has moved into the buildout and dressup phase for Phase II of the high-glycemic-index strip center at the corner of W. 19th St. and N. Shepherd Dr., a reader notes during a recent catty-corner oil change. The Benjamin Moore signage spotted around the new second building last year during the site’s flat-slab days is now reflected by buildout permits for the paint store, which should take up about 1,820 sq.ft. of the building’s 4,298. What’ll be filling up the rest of the space? Looks like the leftovers will house Austin export Tarka Indian Kitchen’s first inside-the-Beltway location.

The cameraman also captured a glimpse of Dallas pizzeria Cane Rosso‘s statue of a somewhat confusingly labeled suina rosso, which overlooks the intersection from its browsing position near the parking lot:

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Heights Austinites
03/20/17 11:15am

1318 Westheimer Rd., Montrose, Houston, 77006

Just in time for the spring equinox, a reader sends shots of some recent trimming back at the former home of Royal Oak Bar & Grill, which may soon sprout a 2-story patio if permits issued over the last few months tell true. The bar and restaurant (right across Westheimer Rd. from the Doc’s formerly known as Wendy’s and that long-tarped turret of the Tremont Tower condo building) was closed down last September by owner Shawn Bermudez, who told Eric Sandler he planned to reopen the space under a new name and theme. The late-1950s house (previously converted into dance club Bartini, before the structure’s Royal Oak days began in the early 2010s) has since had its nose cut off; some larger holes on both stories have also been wooded over, over on the parking lot side:

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New Growth in Hyde Park
03/17/17 11:00am

Hot Bagel Shop at 2015 S. Shepherd Dr., Vermont Commons, Houston, 77006

Former Hot Bagel Shop on S. Shepherd Dr., Vermont Commons, Houston, 77006The long predicted southerly shift of The Hot Bagel Shop has come to pass: a banner above the endcap of the wavy new commercial strip at 2015 S. Shepherd Dr. proclaims the spot now open, and the old location is all wrapped up in white paper and cardboard. The far corner on the first floor of the new shopping center — purportedly part 1 of 2 — is occupied by Zen Japanese Izakaya, but the other units in the 2-story structure appear to be, as yet, vacant:

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Fresh Baked on S. Shepherd
03/14/17 11:30am

Shopping Center at Westheimer Rd. at Montrose Blvd., Montrose, Houston, 77006Shopping Center at Westheimer Rd. at Montrose Blvd., Montrose, Houston, 77006

Swamplot’s elevated tipster with an eye on the Westheimer Rd. scene — just east of the Montrose Blvd. Smoothie King — sends some update shots this morning of the ongoing construction of a planned Ruggles-replacing restaurant-retail combo, half of which looks slated for fill-in by a Velvet Taco branch. The Dallas chain will take over a 1-and-a-half story piece of the center, next to the areas highlighted in orange above; Edge Realty is currently leasing the rest of the space in the center, which will attempt to hide some of its parking from prying sidewalk eyes:

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Grill Gone Gray
03/08/17 12:30pm

2723 Yale St., Houston Heights, Houston, 77008
2723 Yale St., Houston Heights, Houston, 77008

As heralded by last Wednesday’s daily demolition report, the low-slung insurance and marketing office building at 2723 Yale St. is now in tatters. The post-smashing shot above was taken in a drive-by by a reader yesterday (who notes this morning that most of the debris has since been hauled off).

Planned for the lot is a new strip center being marketed by East Village developer Ancorian as a retail-office-restaurant mashup, “anchored” by the mini Whole Foods in the works across 610. The property is loosely sandwiched between the combination KFC-Taco Bell to the south and the side-by-side Burger King and new El Rey sitting along the North Loop feeder road (visible to the right).

Renderings of the proposed strip show a mix of brick, wood, metal grating, glass, and patches of other skin materials; a Newquest Properties leasing flier shows the building turning away from Yale St. to face W. 28th St., behind a thick protective later of parking:

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Cleaning Up in the Heights
02/24/17 4:30pm

5922 Richmond Ave., Uptown, Houston, 770575922 Richmond Ave., Uptown, Houston, 77057

The markings left behind by the Key Maps store in the wake of its second move since 2015 are still hanging out this afternoon alongside the leasing notice near the shop’s former place at the east end of the Richmond Avenue Shopping Center strip mall, just east of Fountainview Dr. The Key Maps folks are back inside the Inner Loop again, this time on Durham St. next door to the Dirty Hairy Dog Wash. The most recently former Key Maps location, shown above, has picked up a new neighbor itself since the cartographymonger’s departure: the ex-Subway at the end of the strip is about to reopen as essentialist fried chicken joint Krisp Bird & Batter. A sign on the door says Krisp will be open on Monday: 

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Fried Birdwatching
02/01/17 11:30am

Rice Box, 300 W. 20th St., Houston Heights, Houston, 77008

Rice Box, 300 W. 20th St., Houston Heights, Houston, 77008The Chinese chicken takeout swapout at 300 W. 20th St. is now more or less complete, as of the space’s soft opening on Saturday (just in time to celebrate the Lunar New Year, which kicked off, as it happens, the start of the year of the rooster). The restaurant’s official kickoff is planned for this weekend, the day before the Super Bowl. Rice Box owner John Peterson told the Chronicle years ago that the now-catering-only food truck was loosely inspired by the movie’s White Dragon noodle shop; the new restaurant’s prominent neon signage and dense Asiatic business district patio mural offer a more overt visual cue. (Incidentally, Peterson isn’t the only person interested in ushering in the movie’s dystopian aesthetic for culinary purposes — celebrity food guy Anthony Bourdain is reportedly working on a whole Blade Runner-themed food marketplace on a pier in New York.)

Interior renovations include the addition of several beer taps, in line with that TABC permit notice spotted last year (though some of the taps reportedly dispense nitrogenated tea.) Here’s a look from W. 20th St. at the refurbished exterior, and the building’s new side patio:

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Heights Chicken Switch
01/31/17 11:30am

7006 I-45 South at Woodridge, Gulfgate, Houston, 77087

7006 I-45 South at Woodridge, Gulfgate, Houston, 77087 Vintage roadside attraction photographer Molly Block sends in the fresh shot above of the empty triple post that previously held up the neon beacon of Gulfgate all-night diner Dot Coffee Shop (along with a previous portrait of the sign itself, circa 2013). Block snapped the picture of the bare poles over the weekend; an employee tells Swamplot this morning that both the Dot sign and the sign for also-Pappas-owned Pappas Bar-B-Q next door had to be temporarily taken down out of the way of that planned reworking of the I-45-Loop-610 intersection. The project will add another pair of direct connectors between the 2 highways, and retool the southbound I-45 frontage road, which runs along the edge of the restaurants’ parking lots (as shown in the TxDOT schematics below):

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Gulfgate Rearrangements
01/04/17 4:15pm

Harlow's in Edwards Grand Palace 24, 3839 Weslayan St., Greenway Plaza, Houston, 77027

Harlow's in Edwards Grand Palace 24, 3839 Weslayan St., Greenway Plaza, Houston, 77027Tilman Fertitta’s Harlow’s Food & Fun arcade-bar-restaurant, located since the mid-aughts inside the southwest corner of the Edwards Greenway Grand Palace 24 on Weslayan St., is now closed forever, a woulda-been visitor reports. The entertainment-complex-within-an-entertainment-complex shut down by New Year’s Eve, and signage has already been pulled from the main entrance (though the explanatory yellow placard shown here is still visible behind the space’s security grate at the other entrance). The Harlow’s website has already been scrubbed and redirected to the main Landry’s page; some folks operating out of a Landry’s-branded pickup truck were spotted this afternoon cleaning up at the scene (above).

The signage on the Norfolk St. side of the theater has been removed as well:

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Grand Palace Exit
12/28/16 2:45pm

Art Hous, 811 St. Emanuel St., East Downtown, Houston, 77003
wahlburgers

The folks at ACS studio architecture say that the insides of the former Art Hous art and interior design center on St. Emanuel St. are being cleared out for the planned installation of Burgr Hous. Demo permits for the interior walls of the space, which is wedged between Warehouse Live and Lucky’s Pub, came through early last month. When it’s wrapped up, the remodel may have a vibe kinda like the space shown above, which ACS currently has up on their website for the project as a visual reference for the redesign — though the image depicts the branding of the Boston-based reality-teevee-starring Wahlburgers chain. The firm has a floorplan out as well, however, showing a different layout:

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E-Less in EaDo
12/28/16 11:30am

El Beso Cantina, 3801 Farnham St,, Upper Kirby, Houston, 77098

A reader on the inside sends a shot of the ex-59 Diner on Farnham St., now up and running as El Beso Cantina. As of Christmas, the space is once again open 24 hours a day, though the pale turquoise paint and Elvis kitsch have been swapped out for warmer earth tones and decorative sombreros. The new occupants also appear to be attempting to fill the area’s 3am pancake niche, covered for nearly 30 years by the departed diner, by offering an array of American breakfast items along with the Tex-Mex fare.

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Shepherd Triangle Swap-In
12/15/16 4:45pm

Bird Barbershop, 420 E. 20th St., Houston Heights, Houston, 77008

Remodel of Heights Plaza, 420 E. 20th St., Heights, Houston, 77008Austin-based Shiner-wielding Bird’s Barbershop opened up its first Houston location last week in the remodeled 1955 retail strip at 420 E. 20th St., on the end of the building formerly home to J & R Boudin and Frenchy’s Sausage Co. The bubblegum pink parking stripes were joined by the spots above over the summer, as well as the circular window now floating in the middle of a wall where the facade’s westernmost door used to be.

A rep from the company says the Houston store was designed with community swimming pools in mind, which explains the interior tile scheme and watery motifs:

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420 in the Heights
12/14/16 10:45am

Long Sing Market Leasing Flier, 2017 Walker St., East Downtown, Houston, 77003

The Long Sing Supermarket building is now up for grabs, per a fresh leasing listing that appeared last week. The 8,260-sf.-ft. retail space and its internal lunch counter sit across Walker St. from physicist-mascotted Neil’s Bahr, and next to Little Woodrow’s EaDo (visible in yellow to the right, with its face toward the corner with St. Emanuel St. where Warehouse Live hangs out). The pagoda-topped grocery store was listed for sale a few times since 2014 — back before the glassy Marriott Marquis highrise started photobombing the building’s listing shots from across 59, as it does in the photo below:

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Market To Market
12/13/16 2:30pm

East Village leasing and renderings

The latest sketchup of the site plan for Ancorian’s East Village project in East Downtown shows what may be a second distillery nestled into the 2 blocks of warehouses now in various states of conversion between Polk and Lamar streets along St. Emanuel and Hutchins. Meanwhile, a group of rum distillers going by the name Revolution Rum has laid claim to an address next to the development (in a warehouse just north of 8th Wonder Brewery’s, across Hutchins from the planned Houston location of chain craft vodka distillery Our/Vodka). It’s not clear whether the spot marked on the leasing flier is a separate project, or if one of the 2 potential liquor operations might have a satellite storefront in the complex, facing St. Emanuel St.

Other additions to the siteplan include the name of Agricole Hospitality, now on the map at the corner of Dallas and St. Emanuel (and embellished with the logos for the group’s existing Heights trifecta of Revival Market, Coltivare, and Eight Row Flint). Fort Worth-rooted beer and burger joint Rodeo Goat and Dallas-based trailer-bar Truck Yard have territories staked out as well, next to a thin slice of retail space labeled Poku. The architects at māk have also released another few renderings up of design ideas for various parts of the 2 block complex, including a shiny restaurant mockup depicted along Polk St. near the now-silver-skinned Secret Group comedy club:

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Spirits of EaDo
12/05/16 5:00pm

Merchant, 1707 Post Oak Blvd., Uptown, Houston, 77056

The back-alley Post Oak strip center corner previously occupied by a franchise of not-quite-ice-cream purveyor Tasti D-Lite appears now to be operating under the banner of New Orleans-based Merchant Cafe, whose signature noun list was spotted over the weekend by a reader in the shopping center. The new cafe is catty-corner to Berryhill Baja Grill, and flanked by Five Guys Burgers and Fries and The UPS Store. The city planning department  started issuing permits for a remodel of the space by September of last year, though some appear to have been given the OK as recently as October. 

The vicinity’s softserve niche is currently filled by a branch of pay-by-the-pile California frozen yogurt shop Pinkberry, facing San Felipe right across Post Oak Blvd. Tasti D-Lite, meanwhile, appears to have largely pulled out of Houston altogether over the last few years, with a lone holdout franchise remaining in Katy.

Photo: jatorres

NY to NOLA