Memorial Drive Scrape: The End of Otto’s and Bibas Greek Pizza

How cheaply did the Ponderosa Land Development Co. pick up the 1.3 acres of land under Otto’s Bar B Que on Memorial Dr.?

“I won’t be able to ride off into the sunset with what I’m getting,” Otto’s co-owner June Sofka tells Jennifer Dawson of the Houston Business Journal. And that’s our only clue. Well, that and the fact that the shopping-center developers still had enough money left over to buy the property next door.

A new 2-story building on the 1.8-acre site between Asbury and Reinicke, on the southern border of Rice Military, is being designed by Kirksey.

The portion with Memorial frontage that will also be torn down to make way for the new project is owned by two sisters, one of whom is Wanda Greb. Their property contains Bibas Greek Pizza, M-T Nails, Memorial Barber Shop, Rich Cleaners and the hamburger restaurant segment of Otto’s, which is leased by the Sofkas.

Ponderosa intends to scrape the entire site and develop a 22,000-square-foot center with retail, restaurant and possibly some boutique office space. The project is expected to cost $6 million to $8 million, not including the land cost.

But wait, maybe not all of those businesses are disappearing from that location!


Tiffany Dong, the owner of M-T Nails which currently operates at the site, says she wants to lease space in the new building.

Otto’s Bar B Que, at 5502 Memorial Dr., closed for good this past January. The Sofkas had closed the restaurant in anticipation of a sale shortly before Hurricane Ike in 2008, but reopened the following April when none materialized. Otto’s Hamburgers will close as early as April 24th, Dawson reports.

Photos: Flickr users Bob & Lorraine Kelly (top) and tamtam.afropunx (bottom)

3 Comment

  • Nooo!! Isn’t this strip center historic!!?? With it’s beautiful blue awning. Can’t we save it?! I have so many fond memory of eating at Otto’s. Getting my hair cut at the barber shop, then walking next door to get my nails done!

    Where’s the Houston preservation society when you need it?!

    Let’s arrange a protest march! We can start at the Alabama theater and march past the River Oak theater. Spit on Barnes and Noble and Starbucks, then head down Memorial to Otto’s! Whose in?

    Just another day in Houston. Ha!

  • Testure, that was the best post I have seen on here in a while. Thank you for your sarcastic sanity.

  • Thanks Testure, your post provided a good chuckle. Many Swamplot posters are ardent preservationist but it is good to laugh at yourself every once in awhile.