Swamplot Street Sleuths: Too Many Bumps

Got an answer to any of these reader questions? Or just want to be a sleuth for Swamplot? Here’s your chance! Add your report in a comment, or send a note to our tipline.

  • Upper Kirby: “I can assure you that there are some bone crunching potholes underneath the lovely puddles,” writes the reader who sent in these rain-drenched photos of the ancient, multi-layered, and pockmarked parking lot shared by 3 restaurants at 2241 Richmond, just west of Greenbriar. When it rains, the lot gets even worse, claims the reader, who wants to know why it’s so “pitiful”:

    While I can kind of understand Blue Fish and Hobbit [Café] not wanting to spend too much money on improving the parking lot since they are not high dollar places, Yelapa [Playa Mexicana] is trying to position itself as this new chic Mexican/Seafood eatery and thus I would have thought they’d care more about a customer’s initial impression.

    A related question from the same reader: “Are there any City ordinances that require a parking lot used by the public to have a certain amount of drivability?”

Next: What about the Hooters?


  • Woodlake Plaza: Those are the bushwacked remains of the Bushwacker Salon & Day Spa at the center of this recent photo of the shopping center at the northeast corner of Westheimer and South Gessner. But photographer Jason Tinder has his eyes focused on the Hooters in the foreground, which appeared last month in Swamplot’s Daily Demolition Report. “Any ideas on what is going in here?” he asks: “I have heard that a new super randalls is going in but not sure.”

Photos: Swamplot inbox (potholes) and Jason Tinder (Woodlake Plaza Shopping Center)

27 Comment

  • Yes, the Randalls at Westheimer and Gessner is being torn down and rebuilt. It will be about twice the size of the current store.

  • Never mind that parking lot for potholes. For sheer number and magnitude how about Shepherd between, oh, 59 and the North Loop?

  • We would love to force our landlord to get this mess fixed as soon as possible…any advice from anyone? We’ve been on him for the last 10 months or more (since we took the space in mid-September 09). We certainly believe that the lunch business at the very least must be suffering due to this issue…How many professionals in kenneth cole loafers or nine west heels want to navigate lake Ponchartrain just to get to our restaurant for a meal? Anyone out there able to help us persuade our landlord, please let us know!

  • If you tell us who your landlord is then maybe we can bring some pressure to bear.

  • That parking lot has sucked since Hobbit reopened there however many years ago, but that doesn’t seem to have hurt their business any. Every time I go, it’s always really crowded.

    For the record, I wouldn’t have guessed Yelapa to be a high dollar place, and b4-u-eat.com backs up that impression. “Avg. Prices (excl. tax, tip, & drinks): Lunch 9-16 Dinner 10-28”.

    Whenever I see that building, I am always reminded of the burned-out (gay?) bar that stood empty on that site for years.

  • i like the parking lot. it’s indicative of the greater montrose area and the older/poorer parts of town. in other words, it feels like home.

    as long as richmond is a POS i don’t think the parking lot matters much.

  • As long as the parking lot fills up and the restaurants are doing good, the landlord won’t do a damn thing.

    If the patrons start avoiding these restaurants because of the parking lot, then the restaurants have something to complain about.

  • The cuisine at Yelapa Mexicana is fantastic and a bargain at the price point. Chef Wiley is quite good and I suggest you try it if you haven’t been. It is not Tex-Mex, but has very smart, fresh Pacific coast Mexico influenced dishes.
    I’ve also heard about the landlord’s thoughts on the parking lot being ‘hip’ and edgy. The guy is just a goofy cheapskate in my opinion.
    The building shows none of it’s checkered history and is inviting as is the patio when temperatures are mild.
    I freely admit I am a fan of Yelapa Mexicana and know one of the owners, but it really is a good choice for dinner when you want a delicious locally sourced meal.

  • “Are there any City ordinances that require a parking lot used by the public to have a certain amount of drivability?”

    I have no idea, but if they are, I’d be curious to know why such ordinances do not apply to City of Houston roads.

    I still cannot understand how and why the COH has such deplorable roads. It is beyond ridiculous. Not only does the City use roadways as a slip-and-slide water park everytime it rains, but the potholes (likely caused, in no small part, by the flooding waters) are seemingly ignored by anyone charged with fixing them.

    Heck, even Post Oak Boulevard is in shambles. The past two days there has been a little torrent of water flooding the southbound side of the road just north of the San Felipe intersection. Trying to ford the water while missing all of the potholes has become quite the challenge.

    If the COH can’t take of the roads in a “good” part of town, I’d hate to see what they are like in a less than desirable area.

  • They city is literally running out of money for road construction and repairs.

    The solution put forward so far is in the Renew Houston campaign.


    The premise is that it will create a dedicated fun to built road and drainage without financing it through bonds. The dedicated fund can’t be pilfered by other groups in the city also as it happens right now.

    Read the proposed city charter measure and decided if you want it. It’ll be up for vote in the November elections.

  • I’m looking forward to the dedicated thread on Swamplot about the Renew Houston proposal. Until then, I’ll keep my comments to myself about the proposal.

  • @googlemaster- If you re-read the original comment, it wasn’t that Yelapa is a high dollar place. Rather their point was that if Yelapa’s target audience is the stylish and chic, a bombed out parking lot is going to put them off and isn’t Yelapa concerned about it?

    @Yelapa: The parking lot was like this when your lease was signed in Sept. ’09. Surely you saw this when you went to scout out the building. Why didn’t you put a clause in the lease requiring the landlord to make some improvements to the parking lot as a pre-condition to leasing? I doubt there was a lot of competition for this space as it is hard to see if you are heading east on Richmond and thus doesn’t naturally attract drive-by traffic.

  • What is the point of the point in the price point?

    I’m sincerely curious. What is the difference between a “price point” and a “price”??

  • The parking lot there has always been a mudpit strewn with half-hearted attempts at pavers and crushed stone. The businesses there should have known better before setting up shop. The landlord probably won’t lift a finger until the tenants are on the verge of leaving or even one or two have left.

    As for Renew Houston, its just a way to siphon off money from the citizenry and responsibility(and accountability) from elected officials to fund construction projects. Many Houstonians already don’t trust Metro, why create yet another exempted organization that does whatever it pleases with our money? By the way, do some research and you’ll find *drum roll* that Renew Houston is being pushed/financed by a bunch of construction companies. One of their fear tactics in their presentation(which I saw at a civic assn meeting a few months back) is talking about how people will drown in their cars and homes will flood with heavy rains. Well, over the past few weeks, as anyone can see, we’ve had a ton of rain and no one has drowned in their car or had their home flooded in Houston.

  • I bet Walmart’s parking lot is going to be NICE!!!!

  • Yelapa, you should have negotiated this point before you signed your lease. Your broker should have brought this up. Most brokers want to get their commission 1st and take care of their clients 2nd. You should contact a good real estate attorney to review your lease. I have several that I use and would be happy to recommend one that works with restaurants that are reasonable.

  • If I am reading HCAD right, Yelapa’s landlord is “PORTSMOUTH SQUARE LTD, STE 140, 2503 ROBINHOOD ST., HOUSTON TX 77005”.

  • Isn’t that across the street from the infamous 2520 Robinhood? That is too weird even for this Weirdo.

  • Joel,

    Is it bad I smiled and thought of Mugsy’s when I saw that parking lot??? haha, I agree it does give character…and is a pain in the ace to drive around,

  • SL is right about that parking lot. You’re not going to fix it without a complete regrade and repave. Probably significant drainage work too, since it’s so low. Simply patching the holes won’t last long enough to be worth the trouble. With the kind of business those restaurants do you can’t lose that much parking for that long. Even if the landlord is willing and the money is available, both very big “if’s,” there isn’t anywhere close to enough alternate parking in the area. Unfortunately, it’s a Catch-22.

  • Pyewacket,
    I’ve always thought of a “price” as a single number; i.e., fish tacos are $7.99.
    A “price point” is similar to a price range; for example, someone may say that they are looking for a restaurant with lunches around the $10 price point.
    Just my 2¢.

  • This is the parking-lot-equivalent of a tear-down.

  • I like that parking lot. It’s a place with character, not another non-place desolate expanse of white concrete full of chunky-styled “light trucks” and inhumanity. You might have an actual experience crossing it!

    Hobbit, Blue Fish, and Yelapa are all on my regular restaurant rotation, and the fact that they don’t feel like they’re in a sun-blasted strip center is an attraction to me.

  • Wel, Sid, let’s just hope your “actual experiences” never includes a broken ankle or busted CV joint.

  • Or a flat tire or wet/muddy floor mats!

  • …or trying to navigate the parking lot in a wheelchair or crutches.

  • If the potholes get fixed you end up de facto welcoming the pale hushpuppy-wearing xurbanites and then you’re facing a phalanx of Caddy-SUVs and Hummers every Saturday night.