Openings and Closings: That Flood of New Establishments

So much new stuff going on it’s impossible to keep track of it all!

  • Opening Soon? A new “Houston Ave. Bar” at the site of the former Farmers Coffee Shop on the corner of Houston Ave. and White Oak. Here’s the evidence: A permit for a “2 story addition” to the property was approved by the city last month. The corner is already a popular gathering place for floodwaters — several commenters on HAIF have posted photos of the intersection after Hurricane Ike (see above) and Tropical Storm Allison.
  • Moved: The Central City Co-op Wednesday market, from that Ecclesia space next to the Taft St. Coffee House to new digs at the Grace Lutheran Church at 2515 Waugh, just north of Missouri St. Sunday markets are still at Discovery Green. Next up for the co-op crew: Selling enough veggies to pay off those loans used for the church buildout.
  • Opening Softly, Later This Month: A place called Canopy, from the folks who brought you that place called Shade. Claire Smith and Russell Murrell’s new restaurant will go in the spot where Tony Ruppe’s was, in the double-decked strip center at 3939 Montrose, reports Cleverley Stone. Three meals a day, 7 days a week, plus 3 seating areas:

    a bright and refreshing dining room, festive bar and side street patio. We will eventually offer curbside “to go” service.

  • Opening Early Next Month: The brand-new Dessert Shoppe, in the strip center portion of 19th Streete in the Heights. Fred Eats Houston writes that sisters Sara and RaeMarie Villar will be serving up “whole cakes and pies to individual desserts, along with assorted breakfast pastries, cookies, quiches, cupcakes, and some breads.”
  • Reopened, for the First Time Since Ike: The Shriner’s Hospital for Children in Galveston. The combined boards of the International Shriners and Shriners Hospitals for Children had originally decided to close the hospital for good, after 30 inches of water wandered through the building’s first floor during the Hurricane. Shriners voting at this summer’s convention in San Antonio reversed that decision. The new hospital will have a smaller staff and budget. The Chronicle‘s Todd Ackerman reports that the hospital should already be open for reconstructive surgery cases; burn victims will have to wait until December for treatment.

And yet even more new stuff:


  • Now Under Construction in the 7,000-sq.-ft. former Southwest Muffler and Brake building at the southwest corner of Heights and Washington: The new Phil’s Texas Bar-B-Que, as shaped by restaurant design dude Ferenc Dreef.
  • Closed: Rare Bar, in the western side of that two-faced strip center stretched between Shepherd and Durham across Floyd St. from Kicks. Coming soon to take its place: a second Table 7 Bistro.
  • Reopened for Browsing and Sneezing: Baytown’s Book Barn, home to 40,000 books at 222 E. Texas Ave., after being closed by its former owner last year. But pardon that uh, dust:

    Unfortunately, those books sitting enclosed for more than a year has left [new owner Bobbie Brown] with the arduous task of cleaning them — thousands of them. Each one must be taken down from the shelf, examined for damage, cleaned and dusted before it’s ready to meet the public.

    “We’re open, but we still have a lot of work to do,” said Brown. “We’re moving books around, cleaning up … it takes a lot of time.”

    Look for more home-schooling titles on those shelves soon.

  • Opening Today: At 2303 Richmond, between Greenbriar and Kirby — directly adjacent to Blue Fish, the Hobbit Cafe, and a pothole convention — seafood restaurant Yelapa Playa Mexicana. That’s the same location where Sauté fizzled out earlier this year. Yelapa’s owner is Houston restaurant veteran Chuck Bulnes, formerly of Grotto, La Griglia, Ninos, Las Alamedas, Charlie T’s, Brennan’s, Ninfa’s, Sierra, Blue Agave, Mariner Restaurant, Big Mouth Frog, Palazzo’s, Joyce’s Oyster Resort, Texas Tamale Company, and — oh yeah, how could we forget? — Berryhill Fish Tacos.
  • Back from the Dead, by Black Friday: Yes, it’s CompUSA that’ll be leasing out most of the shuttered Circuit City at the northwest corner of I-10 and Bunker Hill — right across the street from Best Buy. The company closed all of its stores nationwide almost 2 years ago. Reports the HBJ‘s Jennifer Dawson:

    [NAI real estate broker Tami] Pearson says CompUSA will open three to five stores in the Houston area over the next two years. The firm is negotiating on leases in the Galleria area and in The Woodlands, but those will not be in former Circuit City locations.

  • Grandly Opened Late Last Week: The long-awaited 99 Ranch Market, in that Fiesta Mart building that had its parking lot cut off, by the side of the Katy Freeway at Blalock. The Houston Press’s Robb Walsh reports:

    The bakery turns out hot bread products every hour, the manager told me, and each time the bread changes, so lots of cuisines are represented. There were all kinds of Chinese buns, Vietnamese breads and sweets when I stopped by for samples. The food court includes a sushi station, Chinese barbecue . . . and a very intriguing buffet. The frozen dumpling selection is amazing, and so are the dim sum to-go items.

    The store isn’t nearly as big as Hong Kong Supermarket or Viet Hoa, and it’s not as bright and shiny as Super H Mart, but it’s certainly worth a visit while the oysters and lobsters are cheap.

  • Opened Already: Bringing a little bit of the Big D to the Houston Pavilions, Dallas import III Forks. The 11,000-sq.-ft. steakhouse’s Legends Room, one of 3 private dining rooms, “boasts a 20-foot ceiling and is adorned with glowing brass bead chandeliers,” relays the HBJ‘s Allison Wollam.
  • Now Open for Structured Romping: Kiddie playplace Wonderwild, in the depths of the Corporate Centre business park at 707 N. Shepherd Dr., “is the kind of indoor playground you usually find outside Houston proper in lands of sugar and pears,” writes Heights Life blogger and mom Viula. Step past the 52-inch plasma teevee as you come in

    And then there is that play area: a 28×17 ft “jump-o-leen,” guaranteeing a solid post-Wonderwild nap for the kiddos; a kid powered train; the essential inflatable slide; and a huge, custom play system (read: indoor jungle gym) that will impress even the most adventurous 3 year olds. In the extreme heat of the summer and rainy days of winter, you’re sure to see plenty of Heights’ kids burning off their high-carb diets at Wonderwild.

Hear of any more openings or closings of note? Send your reports to Swamplot!

Photos: HAIF user Arivechi (flooding); Fred Eats Houston (110 S. Heights Blvd.)

2 Comment

  • Re Houston Ave at White Oak: well it’s obvious that any development there HAS TO BE 2+ stories…
    It’s such a great intersection – freeform, slopey & with a city view!

  • Great Post. I’m glad someone can keep up with all this!