01/25/16 10:15am

Former Johnny's Pizza House, 24437 Katy Fwy. Ste. 100, Katy, TX, 77494

East Coast Korean fried chicken chain Bonchon is planning a new location at 24437 Katy Fwy., between the Grand Parkway and Katy Mills Mall in the strip-center storefront previously occupied by Johnny’s Pizza House, which closed last year. The chain’s previous Dallas location, its first foray into Texas, opened to so much enthusiasm for its double-fried chicken that the location had to shut down for a week to regroup shortly after its December 2013 opening; half a year later, the location closed permanently. Bonchon’s second Texas trial will open next to Fix My Phone and Katy Peridontology and Oral Surgery.

Photo of former Johnny’s Pizza House location: Scott L. via Yelp

Fry, Fry Again
06/10/15 2:00pm

Cupcake ATM, Sprinkles, 4014 Westheimer Rd., Highland Village Shopping Center, Houston

Here’s the new view looking left as you exit the back front door of the Apple Store in Highland Village. The long-promised Cupcake ATM at the back of Sprinkles is all ready for its grand opening tomorrow at 4014 Westheimer. Why buy cupcakes from a glorified vending machine when you can walk in the store and have one handed to you by a real live person?


Sprinkles Redo
09/13/13 2:30pm

That retail task force that Mayor Parker put together about the same time that Macy’s announced it was closing the Downtown store came through with its first report yesterday, recommending that Dallas St. between Milam and La Branch — or between the hotels on the west side of Downtown and the hotels, Discovery Green, and George R. Brown Convention Center on the east — be prettied up into a kind of retail promenade. And the task force recommends that it happen sooner rather than later, in time to capitalize on the disposable incomes of the hordes coming to town for the NCAA Final Four in 2016 and the Super Bowl in 2017.

The rendering above, included in the report, shows a Kardashian body double strolling through the intersection of Main St. and Dallas; the Sakowitz building, catty-corner across from the to-be-demolished-in-a-week Macy’s, would pair with GreenStreet to anchor the linear district and provide similar photo opportunities. It appears that the task force hopes to lure national retailers and rally existing tenants and landowers, like Hilcorp, to the cause with tax breaks and other incentives, including waiving the city ordinance requiring that signage Downtown be no taller than 42.5 ft.


09/06/13 10:00am

Remember that unusable and really vague tip sent to Swamplot back in January? The one promising that a “major (non-residential) Houston property is about to make a significant change”? And it wasn’t Macy’s? Well, the in-the-know tipster now reports, we can let that cat out of the bag, since the Houston Business Journal and Houston Chronicle already have: The “Houston landmark” the tipster couldn’t tip us off about is the Galleria — which, it was announced yesterday by developer Simon Property Group, will be undergoing extensive renovations and partial demolition to create about 100,000 new sq. ft. of retail and restaurant space.

The plan calls for the Galleria III portion where Saks Fifth Avenue is currently located to be demolished — though the tipster says the Philip Johnson façade will be maintained — to make room for a bumped-out food court (shown in the rendering above). That freed-up Saks space will provide room for 35 new retailers and restaurants. Meanwhile, Saks will be moving into the Macy’s spot on Sage, and that Macy’s will be merging with the other Macy’s on Hidalgo. (Makes sense.) Also, a standalone box will be built in the parking lot for a few tenants who can afford to be more conspicuous to the stop-and-go crowd on Westheimer.


03/11/13 4:00pm

A FEW LAST LOOKS AT MACY’S And that’s it. After 66 years, there’s no more shopping to be done. Macy’s is closed. Swamplot photographer Candace Garcia finds a perch Downtown from which to take this farewell photo of Kenneth Franzheim’s former Foley’s — and Hair Balls’ Abraham Garza goes inside for a few last looks of the liquidation as the business hours dwindled on Saturday to zero. Garza says: “The only items I saw for sale, other than fixtures and empty jewelry cases were mink coats.” [Hair Balls; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Candace Garcia

02/19/13 11:00am

HAKEEM OLAJUWON’S MOON SHOT, A LONG WAY FROM THE GALLERIA The two-time NBA champ opened DR34M in December to showcase his line of luxury men’s sportswear, leather goods, and body lotions — but the 3300 East Nasa Pkwy. location struck some as unlikely: The Jim West Mansion? In Clear Lake? Where NASA used to study the moon? Houston Chronicle‘s Joy Sewing drops by to see what the baller has done to the old place: “[Olajuwon] took great care to maintain the integrity of the mansion . . . . The great room is likely one of the most impressive entry ways of any luxury store from Louis Vuitton to Hermès. . . . He commissioned an artist to add gold-leaf accents throughout the mansion. . . . In the west wing, the DR34M sportswear collection is prominently displayed in a room that features flooring from the Rockets’ 1995 NBA championship game.” And it’s only about 40 minutes south on I-45, far from Uptown: “It would not make the same impact (at the Galleria),” Olajuwon tells Sewing. [Houston Chronicle; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Candace Garcia

01/22/13 5:00pm

Whoever owns this warehouse in the East End — he wants to remain anonymous — has donated it for the time being to Historic Houston to house its collection of materials rescued from historic Houston buildings before demolitions turned everything into splinters and twisted metal.

The warehouse is located between Eastwood and Milby at 4300 Harrisburg, right next to the monolithic Maximus Coffee Group plant. This Sunday the mural-covered doors will be rolled up for a few hours while the nonprofit rolls out an inventory including windows, light fixtures, flooring, and siding. Founder and executive director Lynn Edmundson tells Swamplot that the group has been looking for a permanent home since early December; it had leased a warehouse and yard at 1307 W. Clay until closing in June 2011.

Photo: Historic Houston

01/22/13 2:00pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: INTRODUCING THE LA BRANCH ST. SHOPPING DISTRICT “La Branch Street is the answer. Make a linear ‘shopping district’ 5th Avenue style. Don’t try to reinvent the wheel — copy what already works. Instead of a cluster inspired district that will encourage development of a few blocks, the entire street will become synonymous with shopping in Downtown Houston. The street’s location has many benefits to creating a thriving retail shopping district: connectivity from the Northside all the way down to Hermann Park, ample empty parking lot blocks immediately adjacent ripe for development from the ground up, walking distance from all four of eastern Downtown’s major attractions (Minute Maid, Toyota Center, Discovery Green, and GRB), future MetroRail stops nearby (though an added stop between Austin and LaBranch would benefit such a district tremendously), and relative ease of location finding for drivers. A linear shopping district downtown would further accelerate residential development in all of eastern downtown, be it north, central, or south. No resident living on the eastern side of Downtown would have to cross more than three streets to get to La Branch. A cluster shopping district would only encourage development in its immediate vicinity; only so many residents could live within that three block range. The greatest advantage of a linear district is location finding — there’s no need to study maps and such to find where the Downtown retail is — just go park near La Branch Street and you’re there. Who really knows how to get to Houston Pavilions anyhow? No kitschy names that are created by focus groups — the La Branch Shopping District. Put up some new place identifier street name signs to be sure. Flags on light poles too. How many more out of town tourists/fans/convention attendees will be more likely to go shopping if directions will consist of ‘Walk thata way ’til you reach La Branch–You’re there.’? Create a TIRZ for the linear district to incentivize the retail pioneers until the tipping point is reached at which retail and residential will create growth off of each other. Perhaps make the focus of the TIRZ building mixed-use parking garages to replace parking lots — create such a vast, easily accessible, free quantity of parking that the current perceived barrier to venturing downtown is eliminated.” [Thomas, commenting on Downtown Would Like To Know If You Would Like To Shop Downtown]

01/18/13 12:00pm

DOWNTOWN WOULD LIKE TO KNOW IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO SHOP DOWNTOWN Around the same time that Macy’s announced it was closing its store at 1110 Main St., Mayor Parker announced that she’d organized a task force to figure out how to plug up the gaps in Downtown retail; accordingly, the Downtown Management District’s recruiting whichever Houstonians it can to respond to a 20-question shopping survey. It’ll be up through January 31. [Downtown Houston; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Flickr user cjt3

01/15/13 2:03pm

A FAKE STREET FOR REAL ESTATE SHOPPERS IN SPRING Opening in February, reports CultureMap, is a 10,000-sq.-ft. real estate “park” where a dozen lavishly turned-out showcase homes, ranging in styles from “The Midtown” to “The Calais” to “The Ashby Manor,” are presented for your perusal on a private cul-de-sac near I-45. Think of the immersive, don’t-mind-if-I-do shopping at IKEA blown up to the scale of Disney World — except at MainStreet America there will be fireworks and Christmases and tailgating parties and almost everything will be for sale:Do you like the paint color, the metallic faux technique on the ceiling or the graphic wallpaper accent in the bedroom? The details are available and so are the prices. In fact, you can make the purchase on site. If that couch, occasional table or rug is what you are looking for, swap that credit card and have them delivered. Floral arrangements? Yes, those are for sale as well. Mirrors? Check. Artwork? In stock. Window treatments? You bet.” Admission for adults is only $10; children aged 5-17 can get in for half that. [CultureMap] Photo: MainStreet America

12/21/12 10:31pm

Former Houston Rocket Hakeem Olajuwon quietly opened the doors this past week of a brand-new flagship store for his new clothing line, DR34M. It’s conveniently located just off NASA Pkwy., inside a mansion built during the Depression by a Texas oilman — used later for more than 20 years by NASA for its Lunar and Planetary Institute.

The 17,000-sq.-ft. Italianate mansion by the Clear Lake shore was completed in 1930 by Houston city hall architect Joseph Finger for Jim West, whose family sold it to Humble Oil when he died in 1941. Since then, it has been owned by the Pappas restaurant family and Rice University. And in 1969, during the Apollo missions, the nearby Johnson Space Center moved its moon unit here; it stayed until 1991.

Olajuwon, who has made a lot of investments in Houston-area real estate since his 2002 retirement from the NBA, bought the West Mansion in 2006. He had plans to subdivide the sprawling 41-acre estate to sell off to developers, according to news reports. Later reports indicated the mansion would be razed, or that a retirement village would be built around it. But since early this year, workers have been making  extensive renovations to the building, inside and out:


06/27/11 11:25am

BATTLE OF THE HOUSTON ART FAIRS Kelly Klaasmeyer scores the 2 rival events planned for this fall, all the while hoping that “a crop of completely unsanctioned peripheral shows and events will erupt and liven things up.”: “What Houston is getting are two temporary art malls. That’s what art fairs are, malls for art. They can be malls with good art or bad art but they are still malls. But, hey, I like shopping. And I’m not so idealistic that I’m going to pretend that art isn’t a commodity. And if they are good malls, then maybe more people will come to us for their art shopping needs. And maybe they will discover Houston artists to collect. Hopefully all the events for VIP collectors, ‘cocktail parties at collectors’ homes, special museum tours, viewings of corporate collections and on-site receptions’ will help the cause as well. But I’m not so gullible that I’m going to believe these are somehow civic events. (And they are by no means free to the public.) Oil is high now and Houston has money. Here come the carpetbagger-fair organizers.” [Glasstire]

11/22/10 7:52pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: SUGAR LAND SHOPPING OUTINGS, BETWEEN INNINGS “Maybe this is a new suburban form of mixed use development. Who says you can’t pick up your prescriptions, grab a venti latte and watch a ball game all at the same place?” [Matt, commenting on New Sugar Land Minor League Stadium Easily Assembled from Standardized Suburban Parts]