08/11/16 10:30am

On The Kirb, 5004 Kirby, Upper Kirby, Houston, 77098 On The Kirb, 5004 Kirby, Upper Kirby, Houston, 77098The former Kirby Dr. site of Chinese fast food outpost O’Yeah Cafe (which ousted General Joe’s Chopstix) appears to be getting ready to open again, this time as restaurant-sportsbar On The Kirb. Temporary signage beneath the venue’s more permanent marker (still framed within General Joe’s octagonal medallion) indicates that would-be recruits should apply inside. The restaurant will sit at the northernmost extreme of the 5000 Kirby strip center (located in the thick of Goode Company’s Inner Loop territory, just south of the North St. McDonald’s). The new spot will share the strip with long-time residents Upper Kirby Nails Salon and Joe Omar Hair & Makeup, as well as bisyllabic sister clubs Lumen and Crimson (protected by a few segments of low wall and hedge from the prying eyes of nextdoor neighbor Mr. Carwash).

Photos: Swamplot inbox

Off the Curb
06/14/16 11:00am

Jimmy Chew Asian Kitchen, 1609 Westheimer Rd., Lower Westheimer, Houston, 77006

Windows and wood are now covering much of the front of Vinoteca Poscól’s previous strip center location at 1609 Westheimer Rd. The spot is being prepped to open as Jimmy Chew Asian Kitchen, which touts a laundry list of east- and southeast-Asian countries as contributors to its particular fusion mix. About Online reports that the business is connected to Irwin Palchick of F Bar Nightclub, and will cater to the post-last-call crowd as well as to lemonade enthusiasts. 

The wooden addition, which appears to be establishing the restaurant’s patio territory, engulfs the space previously fenced off as such by Poscól, along with some former sidewalk acreage.  Here’s what the space used to look like, before the wine bar’s midsummer departure:


Montrose Makeover
03/22/16 12:45pm

Ruggles Green Alabma, 2305 W. Alabama St., Upper Kirby, Houston, 77098

Here’s a peek at the new space of Ruggles Green, back open this week at 2305 W. Alabama St. next door to the restaurant’s original shopping center spot by Persona Medical Spa. Ruggles announced the move out of the westernmost suite of 2311 W. Alabama at the end of 2014, and the doors closed on New Year’s Day. The restaurant has now reopened in the street-facing ground floor retail space at the northeastern corner of the 5-story Gables Upper Kirby apartment midrise, which opened across W. Alabama from the less-dense Gables Waterford Square complex last year.


Sprouting Next Door
02/16/16 4:17pm

Rendering of Slowpokes Coffee and Wine Bar, 1203 W. 34th St., Garden Oaks, Houston, 77018

Remodeling is underway at the former Primary Purpose Alcoholics Anonymous meeting space, as Suite D of the strip center at 1203 W. 34th St. is converted into Slowpokes wine, beer, and coffee bar. The new business is busy building its digital presence as it rehabs its physical space just south of the corner with Alba Rd.

The bar’s Instagram page shows the above photo of a screenshot of a rendering of the suite under renovation, which depicts a large patio spreading out into what is currently the strip center’s parking lot. Photos of carpet removal and wishful floor-taping have also been posted as interior construction begins:


Repurposed in Garden Oaks
02/02/16 10:45am

1517 Blodgett St., Museum Park, Houston, 77004

The demo job on the strip center on Blodgett St. between Crawford and La Branch has finally been completed, following a multi-year pause. Until late last fall, the strip contained Sub-Saharan African art gallery Gallery Jatad (since departed to an Almeda Rd. location), while J Food Mart previously held down the fort on the opposite end of the row — but much of the middle of the complex (left, in the above photo) was gutted in 2013. Demo permits for the rest of the structure were issued on Thursday, and the building was down by late yesterday afternoon, a reader writes.

The land under the strip was bought by Trans Unity Partners in January 2015, with an eye toward developing the spot as the Chelsea at Museum District, an 18-story condo highrise. Back then, Trans Unity was uncertain about moving forward with the plan in light of predicted market conditions.

Specs for the Chelsea at Museum District (not to be confused with the highrise formerly known as Chelsea Montrose) mention 95-ish units atop 6 stories of parking. HAIF user urbannizer even dug up a draft rendering of the project, set artfully amid a field of flowers, last October:


Now Off Display
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
01/14/16 12:45pm

Focus Refined Eye Care, 515 Westheimer Rd., Avondale, Houston, 77006

Focus Refined Eye Care announced this week that the doors are open at 515 Westheimer Rd., at the far eastern end of the strip center also containing Osaka Japanese, BB’s Donuts, Nu Cuts Hair Salon, and e-cigarette shops The Vapor Lair. The storefront, next to the former home of lapsed-vegan Mexican restaurant Radical Eats, previously housed a Chartway Federal Credit Union branch.

A press release says the new shop will “eliminate the sterility of typical doctor’s visits”— the self-described ‘optometry spa’ will offer patrons alcohol in cocktail form as well as of the lens-cleaning variety, and eye-rubs will be thrown in for good measure at the start of each appointment. The spot will offer high-end tailored glasses (the combined product of new German diagnostic equipment and a fashion consultant).


Wide Open on Westheimer
12/30/15 9:45am

Remodel of Heights Plaza, 420 E. 20th St., Heights, Houston, 77008

A makeover is underway at the Heights Plaza at 420 E. 20th St. between N. Main and Heights Blvd. Swamplot reader JerseyGirl sends photos of the strip center, once home to Sunny’s Washateria and J & R Boudin; the building is keeping some of its 1970s architectural details (such as those embedded cinderblocks) but is also getting some updates, including a total interior redo and a new white and bubblegum color scheme extending to the parking lot.

Workers on the site confirmed that one of the new tenants will be Birds Barbers, an Austin salon known for providing Shiner Bock as part of its customer experience — in addition to using it as a styling product, for “hair that is smooth and full of shine”. Steel City Pops will also move in — the Alabama-based popsicle chain, which the owner modeled off a Mexican paletas store encountered in Nashville, currently lists flavors including buttermilk, wassail, and spruce on the menu of their Dallas location.

Earlier renderings from Schaum & Shieh show the Heights Plaza strip center (to be rechristened The 420) as it may soon appear — give or take a high-gloss sheen, and those pink parking stops and bricks:


Heights Gets the Birds
12/02/15 1:00pm

Twin Mattress Firms, 1003 Westheimer Rd, Montrose, Houston, 77006

The strip mall at the corner of Westheimer and Montrose now sports two “Mattress Firm” storefronts right next door to one another, operating independently. The western Mattress Firm, on the right in the photo above, has been converted from a Mattress Pro through the subtle but definitive application of a small banner, filling the gap left by the removal of the word “Pro”. All Mattress Pro stores had until November 6th to convert signage, following a mid-September announcement that Mattress Firm would be discontinuing the subsidiary brand.

What exactly has changed? Not the Mattress Pro logo, which still bounces along in contrast to Mattress Firm’s aggressive yellow swipe. The relabeled store, now styled as a Mattress Firm: Final Markdown facility, will sell Mattress Firm products at a bargain-bin discount, while the regular Mattress Firm next door will continue to sell those products at full price.


Doubling Down
06/25/15 3:30pm

Signature Care Center, 1007 Westheimer Rd., Montrose, Houston

Signature Care Center, 1007 Westheimer Rd., Montrose, HoustonIf something bad happens to you at the Spec’s Liquor store, 369 Oriental Bistro, Half Price Books, or the Mattress Firm or Mattress Pro stores in the Westmont Shopping Center (known back in its Art Deco days as the Tower Community Center) at the corner of Westheimer and Montrose, you won’t have far to go for medical help. A new 24-hour emergency care center is opening up early next month between the mattress store duo and the Chinese restaurant, in a space that’s been vacant for a while.


06/09/15 4:00pm

WESTBURY CENTERETTE SITE WILL REMAIN DRY Hot off the presses from the latest Westbury Crier — amid reports on the aftermath of May’s bayou overflow events, which flooded 267 homes in the neighborhood: An update on the status of the site of the former Westbury Centerette at the corner of W. Bellfort and Chimney Rock, which was demolished in March. “Originally,” the newsletter reports, “the property owner planned to construct a facility for LA Fitness; however, we regret to announce that this plan will not proceed. The property owner continues to evaluate options for the site.” [Westbury Crier; previously on Swamplot] Video of Westbury Centerette demolition: Brays Oaks Management District

05/11/15 3:00pm

Renovations at 202 Westheimer Rd., Montrose, Houston

Neighbors and passers-by have been curious about the renovations taking place at the strip center at the corner of Lower Westheimer and Helena St., where the Hollywood Food & Cigars #3 convenience store at 202 Westheimer Rd. — and its neighbor Tejas Bootskicked off a couple years ago. The building, once home to Baby Giant #2, has recently been painted a bright white; its sign has been denuded, and sidewalk reconstruction work is underway:


From Baby Giant to Mattress Pro?
04/14/15 11:30am

Park Place Memorial Strip Center, 5801 Memorial Dr., Bayou Bend, Houston

A reader wanted to make sure Swamplot readers had a chance to see the sign that’s gone up on the construction fence surrounding the Park Place Memorial strip center at 5801 Memorial Dr. — on the south side of the street just east of Westcott St. near Bayou Bend — for the new Mattress One store. (It’s the red banner on the far right of the submitted image, above.) When the store opens this August (on the opposite side of the 10,000-sq.-ft. center from Dunkin’ Donuts), it’ll count as the Florida and Texas chain’s fifty-seventh Houston-area location. Also moving in: Express Rolls, Piada Italian Street Food, and Omni Cleaners.

Photo: Swamplot inbox

57 Varieties, Near Donuts
04/03/15 12:30pm

Site of Proposed West Gray Plaza Strip Center, 504 W. Gray St., North Montrose, Houston

Proposed West Gray Plaza Strip Center, 504 W. Gray St., North Montrose, Houston

Here’s the brick-and-splitface-block strip center that the owner of the building housing the Barnaby’s Café on West Gray at the eastern edge of North Montrose plans to construct in the next 6 months. It’ll be right next door to the Barnaby’s parking lot between Stanford and Taft, on a 15,000-sq.-ft. piece of land that long ago held 3 houses. The West Gray Plaza at 504 W. Gray St. would have 6,000 sq. ft. of retail or office space on the ground floor, plus a 1,600-sq.-ft. half story with a deck above.

The site plan shows a row of head-in parking in front of the building, which would be set to the back of the site:


03/10/15 11:45am

Park Place Memorial Strip Center, 5801 Memorial Dr., Bayou Bend, Houston

Katherine Feser has the inside scoop on how the $7 million strip center portrayed above — but loaded with a Dunkin’ Donuts, a dry cleaner, and — yes, a mattress store — is coming to land in its rightful place along the south side of Memorial Dr. just east of Westcott, 2 doors down from the MFAH’s Bayou Bend Collection. Developer Amir Taghdisi tells Feser he and his brother Alan chose not to build a 3- or 4-story office building with below-grade parking on the site “because it would have been an outdated format from the beginning.” Instead, the 10,000-sq.-ft. strip center is now under construction at the back of the three-quarters-of-an-acre lot, with rows of parking facing Memorial Dr. and Knox St.

Why think so small? “I had all the big names wanting to do a 30-story high-rise for lease,” Taghdisi tells Feser. But he says the homeowners association of Bayou Bend Towers, directly to the south, wouldn’t let him.


The Towers and the Strip