11/29/16 1:45pm

7710 Long Point Rd., Spring Branch, Houston, 77055

7710 Long Point Rd., Spring Branch, Houston, 77055The new lessees of 7710 Long Point Rd. — formerly home to all-Mex-no-Tex Otilia’s Mexican Restaurantannounced last week that they’ll be filling the spot with a craft beer bar and restaurant called The Branch. The folks in charge appear to be former Hay Merchant-slash-Underbelly catering head Madeline Cabezut, current Hay Merchant bar manager Kyle Pierson (though Hay Merchant itself is not involved in the project), and former Miller/Coors spokesmodel Amanda Mixon. An entity linked to serial redeveloper Braun Enterprises bought the place last year, after Otilia’s 2014 for-real-this-time shutdown. The trio formally leased the space around the end of September, and plan to have the place open early next year.

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Branching Out to Long Point Rd.
11/22/16 5:15pm

Rendering of Heights Mercantile Building 4

Expanding organic Rice Village fast-casual chain Local Foods will fill in one of the tenant holes in the biggest structure of under-construction Heights Mercantile, judging from the permits issued earlier this month for a buildout at 714 Yale St. The joint is supposed to share the double-decker structure with a fitness studio, per current marketing materials, though that tenant hasn’t been formally announced yet either. The leasing listing for the various subsections of the retail development is still active on LoopNet, indicating a handful of retail spaces potentially still up for grabs in the 2 buildings across 7th St.:

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More Mercantile Merchants
11/16/16 1:30pm

907 Westheimer Rd., WAMM, Houston, 77006

Some grooming is going on this week in the trio of lots at 907, 903, and 817 Westheimer, formerly home to Ruggles Grill and its fellow departed companion structures just east of the corner with Montrose Blvd. Back in 2012, the folks who developed Triniti were planning a casual-ish burger restaurant on the spot, but chef Ryan Hildebrand told Phaedra Cook this past August that Triniti’s owners later decided a single restaurant wasn’t the best use of the land. That burger restaurant is headed to Shepherd Dr. at Washington Ave. instead, and the Westheimer lot will get a retail project — with some flavor of restaurant included. 

Permits were issued last month for a new shell on the site, and a reader reports some mowing and general cleanup on Monday, from a vine-and-wire-crossed vantage point in the surrounding urban jungle:

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Montrose Mission Modification
11/01/16 10:45am

KFC at 2359 S. Shepherd Dr., Vermont Commons, Houston, 77019

The Colonel is still hanging around by the door, but KFC is in the process of leaving the building at 2359 S. Shepherd Dr., a few readers report. The spot at the corner with Fairview Dr. has been sporting now closed signage, and the location has already been eradicated from the annals of KFC’s store database. The chicken shop’s decommissioning follows the late-June sale of the property to an entity called 2359 S. Shepherd, which shares a Smith St. address with Crosspoint Properties (responsible for the redevelopment of a number of Midtown and properties, including the building that now houses Reef and Proof).

The drive-thru sits just south of the Shepherd Place office tower (once the site of those 1960s lesbian bar raids, in its pre-highrise days), and across Shepherd from the former Arby’s, converted to the Inner Loop’s first-ish Dunkin’ Donuts back in 2013.

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S. Shepherd Retreat
10/31/16 5:30pm

POLAROID NOW HIRING FOR FAKE FILM PHOTO STORES IN THE GALLERIA, WOODLANDS MALL The Woodlands Mall, 1201 Lake Woodlands Dr., The Woodlands, TXIn the apparent leadup to setting up shop in several major Texas cities, a few job postings are up this month for Polaroid Store positions at locations in the Galleria and Woodlands Mall. The stores’ raison d’être: to pull photos from customers’ electronic devices and social media accounts to turn them into pseudo-Polaroids of various sizes. The Polaroid company launched its Fotobar stores in Florida earlier this decade; after a few years of interstate spread and subsequent shutdowns, a 2014 variation on the business model shifted focus onto 300-sq.-ft. mall kiosks, before the store’s founders announced a rebranding last year. No word yet on opening dates for the 2 Houston-area shops, though they appear to be hiring under the wing of Austin-based toy and calendar outfit Calendar Holdings; the postings mention that locations are also in the works in Austin, Frisco, and San Antonio.  Photo of Woodlands Mall: GGP

10/24/16 12:30pm

Riel Restaurant under construction at 1927 Fairview, Montrose, Houston, 77006

French-Canadian-Ukrainian-Texan fusion restaurant Riel is still being installed at 1927 Fairview St., formerly home to Te House of Tea and Trudy’s Boutique Re Sale at the corner with Woodhead St. A reader snagged the shot above yesterday afternoon, showing the former mid-60’s retail strip dressed up in green construction fencing and still sporting that above-it-all street number signage. Ex-Reef chef Ryan Lachaine last said in September that the place should be opening some time next month.

Photo: Mosaic Clinic Dermatology

Fairview Preview
09/28/16 3:30pm

2700 Polk St., East Downtown, Houston, 77003

A construction fence has gone up around the former King’s Wholesale building in East Downtown, a reader tells Swamplot. The rendering above shows a planned renovation for the structure at the corner of Polk and Nagle streets, just a few blocks northwest of the purportedly-reopening-in-October Ivy Lofts sales center. The curved awning-fin isn’t new, but the glass storefronts are — below is a shot of the building’s pre-redo state, from when it last hit the market:
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Opening Up in East Downtown
09/26/16 5:15pm

Pi Pizza, 181 Heights Blvd., Brunner, Houston, 77007

The newly opened stationary location of former food truck Pi Pizza got a huge boost in business this weekend after pro-gun-carry groups began leaving hundreds of negative online reviews of the restaurant, Eric Sandler reports this morning. Owner Anthony Calleo tells Sandler that Pi’s sales at the strip center spot south of I-10 where Funky Chicken used to roost were up nearly 20 percent on Saturday and 40 percent on Sunday.

What exactly triggered waves of gun activists (and counter-protesting pizza-supporters) to take to the restaurant’s Facebook and Yelp pages en masse? A casually dismissive and — sure — less-than-completely-diplomatic response to an initial 1-star review of the restaurant, by a user who had never visited, based solely on Pi’s decision to opt out of open and concealed carry. Sandler notes that Pi’s Facebook review page has been temporarily taken down, as the hundreds of negative reviews (and even larger numbers of positive comments and counterreviews, at least some of which also appear to be from people who have never visited the restaurant) eventually escalated to public searches for Calleo’s home address by some of the more enthusiastic pro-carriers; the pizza joint’s Yelp page was still in lockdown as of this afternoon.

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Booming on Heights Blvd.
09/14/16 4:45pm

Rendering of under-construction Kirby Collection, Kirby Dr. at Colquitt St., Upper Kirby, Houston

Rolling-sphere-themed restaurant and entertainment chain Pinstripes has just leased up some space in the under-construction Kirby Collection (and hey — there might even be some bocce players nearby still looking for a new court!) That’s the first confirmed tenant for the project, which Thor Equities wants to open by the end of next year; the 33,600 sq. ft. of leased space makes up around half of the total retail space available, and is split across both retail floors of the complex (shown in the foreground above, with a row of trees peeking down at Kirby Dr. from the edge of the roof). Pinstripes will take over a 7,260-sq.-ft. subdivision of first floor space, out of the segment labeled 23,900 in the ground floor plan below:

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Leasing Ball Rolling
09/14/16 10:45am

8275 Beechnut St., Sharpstown, Houston, 77036

The 1980’s kiosk formerly used to run MJ Motorcars out of the expansive parking lot of the Southwest Plaza Shopping Center, a reader notes, is now being turned into a drive-thru daiquiri shop. Houston has been slowly picking up on the tape-over-the-strawhole skirting of open container laws over the last few years; the new Prime Daiquiri location in front of 8150 Beechnut St. will provide an alternative for those with no time to hit up Club Tequila in one the retail center’s anchor spots (between noodle shop Tau Bay, the freshly opened Planet Fitness branch, and Harbor Freight Tools).

site plan included in Investar Real Estate Services’s leasing flier for the property shows the to-go bar in place in the kiosk, as well as a few new pad sites drawn into place near by:
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Prime Daiquiri Location in Sharpstown
09/09/16 1:00pm

Cafeza at 1720 Houston Ave., First Ward, Houston, 77007

As of tomorrow morning, any missed-the-memo visitors to the former Blank Slate Laser Tattoo Removal space at 1720 Houston Ave. will at least have the option to drink to forget (assuming that’s not what got them into trouble in the first place). Spanish-Latin-American-themed cafe Cafeza will open to the public around 6 a.m. with coffee, food, and wine on the menu. The shop is tucked into northern storefront of the 1925 building at the corner with Crockett St., with Belgium-minded companion Cafe Brussels occupying the adjacent space next door. The view above is from the Crockett side, where the scribbles-welcome Grateful Heart chalkboard hangs out these days:

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European Influences on Houston Ave
09/07/16 11:00am

Wabash Feed and Garden Store, 5701 Washington Ave., Houston, 77007

Wabash Feed and Garden Store, 5701 Washington Ave., Houston, 77007

A sign of possible second chances for anyone looking to make a play for the former Wabash Feed & Garden Store building at 5701 Washington Ave: the leasing notice now up out front, shown here as spotted by a reader yesterday. Onion Creek owner Gary Mosley bought the land early this year and announced plans to turn the building into a restaurant and bar called Driftwood once the garden store headed out to its new spot. At that time, the moveout was planned for June; Wabash owner Betty Heacker tells Landan Kuhlman this month that the new location in the former Mechanical Plumbing, Inc. warehouse at 4537 N. Shepherd should finally be ready to go by late October.

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Options on Wash Ave
09/02/16 10:15am

Demo of 12740 Memorial Dr., Memorial, Houston, 77024

An excavator was spotted bowing its head yesterday afternoon in the freshly cleared spot at 12740 Memorial Dr., until recently populated by the likes of Baskin Robbins,  Anne’s Salon, and A-1 Cleaners. Per an associated leasing flier for the property, the newly blanked space looks to be slated for drive-thru bank-dom, with a place next door for a retail friend.  The land sits immediately next to a Bank of Texas branch (visible over the fence on the left), itself across W. Bough Ln. from a freestanding Chase. Heading south down Memorial Dr., a Prosperity Bank keeps watch over the next Memorial Bend bend with help from the strip-center BBVA Compass branch across the street.

Photo: Swamplot inbox

Making Bank
08/31/16 10:45am

Krispy Kreme shell, 4601 Spencer Hwy., Pasadena, TX 77504

A field of rippling grass between the Denny’s and the Comerica Bank branch on Spencer Hwy. currently holds the half-finished form of one of the Krispy Kreme donut shops planned as part of the chain’s post-lawsuit re-emergence into the Houston market. The chain still has the location on its list of upcoming grand opening donut-campouts (labeled as down-the-street 4601 Spencer Hwy., though both Eater Houston and a look at neighboring addresses put the property number at or around 4061), but arch-ive-ist and daily demo reporter Lauren Meyers notes the overgrown site is pretty light on signs of active work.

Some of Fisher Elementary’s T-buildings can be seen loitering to the left, with the stadium lights of the McGuire baseball field and track facility rising distantly in the background on the right; on the west side of the building is a would-be drive-thru window:

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Cold Now on Spencer Hwy.
08/29/16 12:15pm

2-story H-E-B proposed at 5106 Bissonnet St., Bellaire, TX 77401

H-E-B Bellaire Market, 5130 Cedar St., Bellaire, TexasDrawings submitted this month to the city of Bellaire for approval outline how H-E-B plans to fit 6-acres of parking and replacement store onto its 3-acre lot at the intersection of Bissonnet and Cedar streets. The renderings and accompanying documentation show a roughly 75,000-sq.-ft. single-story store footprint sitting on the upper level of the planned structure, with an acre-plus of parking out front atop the all-parking lower level. The drawing at the top shows the would-be view of the design from Bissonnet (near the late-50’s supermarket building currently occupied by Randall’s); below are the proposed layouts of the upper and lower story once the existing H-E-B (also pictured above) and its retail strip friends are cleared of the way:

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Building Up on Bissonnet