- 6701 Brompton Rd. [HAR]
The arrival of chain link fencing outside the arched office complex at 2715 Bissonnet known as The Upper Kirby Building last week caught the attention of several Swamplot tipsters, who’ve sent in photos looking across the street at the new perimeter and the vacant scene beyond it. The image at top looks southwest to show the complex’s largest building, an L-shaped structure that fronts the central parking lot on 2 sides. In the second photo, you can see where that building abuts its neighbor, a smaller, rectangular structure that runs along the east side of the parking lot on its way out to the curb. Not depicted: a pair additional small 2-story buildings and their adjacent parking lots to the west, which take up the rest of the block ending at Wakeforest St.
An entity connected to Cornerbrook Development bought the whole 1.56-acre tract housing the 4 buildings last December and since then has filed a few permits to disconnect the plumbing, but it hasn’t laid a hand on the structures themselves yet. They all went up in late ’60s and early ’70s and — though currently vacant — recently played host to Montage Bridal, Synergy Day Spa, an Allstate insurance office, and an assortment of hairdressers.
Photos: Swamplot inbox
Shuttered Rice Village pizza parlor Pizza L’Vino is set to become the second Reach Stretch Studio in Houston and fifth across the greater Houston area: Katy, Sugar Land, The Woodlands, and Memorial branches of the wellness chain are already up and running. A building permit filed last Friday for the 2,100-sq.-ft. storefront at 2524 Rice Blvd. — across the street from Buffalo Wild Wings — indicates conversion work is about to begin.
Pizza L’Vino’s other location has also closed down in the Waugh Dr. shopping center it once shared with competitive axe-throwing venue The Ratchet Hatchet.
Photo: Pizza L’Vino
THE MARQUIS II IS GETTING ITS SECOND ENCORE Well, that was fast. After shutting down on Sunday without any timeline for a return, the Marquis II reopened at 2 p.m. on Tuesday, according to a note posted on Facbeook by longtime bar employee Al Jara. According to the Chronicle’s Marcy de Luna, Jara is now the owner of the place, having purchased it from his boss during the 2-day timeout. The last time a Marquis employee pulled a stunt like this, it was a pair of devoted cocktail waitresses who bought the place after the owner, their boss at the time, died in the late ’60s. (Adding “II” to the name was their idea.) In this case the former owner is still alive, just sick of dealing with the sustained construction activity outside the bar on Bissonnet St., which Jara says has cost the business $1.2 to $1.5 million since it began in 2014. “They’ve broken up our parking lot and we are not getting business because people can’t access us,” he tells de Luna. [Houston Chronicle; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Marquis II
A flyer posted on the Marquis II at 2631 Bissonnet yesterday announces that the place is now closed indefinitely, leaving West University almost entirely devoid of bars (except for the one inside the Whole Foods on Bellaire Blvd.). The Marquis II’s predecessor, the Marquis, opened in the then-fledgling River Oaks Shopping Center in 1945. After the bar’s original owner died in the late 1960s, a pair of cocktail waitresses bought it and decamped to Bissonnet and Buffalo Spdwy., where the suffix became part of the venue’s name.
Following a stint at Bissonnet and Weslayan, the bar wound up in its current spot near Kirby in 1985. Houston architect Lars Bang had originally designed the building to house a branch of California donut chain The Big Donut, which it did until the 1970s when a gentleman’s lounge dubbed The Bunny Club blacked out the windows and took over. It left after a fire in the early ’80s, but not entirely: During the Marquis II’s last major remodel in 2011, workers uncovered a painting of a women wearing a low-cut outfit with a bushy tail that had been hiding behind one of the building’s walls, an unmistakable relic of the shuttered strip club. “Although badly charred,” according to the bar’s website, “the painting underwent a little restoration and still hangs proudly on our wall.”
Photos: Marquis II
Work is underway to divvy-up the abandoned Chuck E. Cheese’s at the Weslayan Plaza shopping center into handful of new retailers. Among them: Torchy’s Tacos. It hasn’t fully materialized yet but looks good on paper in the updated site plan that Regency Centers is now showing off on its website. Next-door — and east of longtime tenant Skeeter’s Mesquite Grill — Sola Salon Studios (number 16) and Sally Beauty Supply (15) are also newcomers, themselves carve-outs from the former mouse-themed pizza and arcade joint as well.
It served its last slice earlier this year, by which time the house animatronic band — once a staple of all Chuck E. Cheese’ses — had presumably left the building. Company leadership axed the mechanical Pizza Time Players from all store locations last August, ending their 41-year nationwide run. “Back then,” Chuck E. Cheese’s top brass Tom Leverton told NPR’s Morning Edition, “kids’ expectations of technology were much, much lower.”
Today is teardown day at Andrew Schneck’s neighbor’s house, pictured above at 2021 Albans Rd. Schneck, a resident of 2025 Albans, was sentenced to 6 and a half years in prison last month after admitting he tried to blow up the marble statue of Dick Dowling in Hermann Park using homemade explosives he stored in his Southampton house. During the federal raid of his house last year, members of the surrounding neighborhood — including those next door — were evacuated so that FBI and ATF officials could dispose of the “significant amount of material” they found inside through “controlled detonations” — which they warned could potentially cause damage to nearby structures. A blue tent set up on Schneck’s lawn — just off camera to the right — functioned as their staging area.
Photo: Swamplox inbox
RICE VILLAGE DAT DOG RECEIVES TABC BLESSING Across the street from Torchy’s and next door to Hopdoddy Burger Bar, the vacant corner storefront at 5504 Morningside now has clearance to serve guests alcohol. It’s the most recent development for the space since a TABC notice appeared in the window, signalling that New Orleans hot dog chain Dat Dog was on its way there. Inside, the lights are on but there’s still nothing inside. Co-working space Platform Houston was the last to occupy its 2,919 sq. ft. Photo: Swamplox inbox
2424 Rice Blvd., Suite A. is about to become part of Katy Chinese chain Tiger Noodle House’s 2-restaurant dynasty. Since nonprofit home goods shop Ten Thousand Villages left the storefront — its last in Houston — between H&R Block and neighboring occult shop Serenity Studio, all of its meterless parking spots have been hogged by the dumpster shown above.
It’s been on standby as renovators take things out of the 2,664-sq.ft. interior. Now, they’re about to start putting things in: a building permit filed yesterday gives clearance for the restaurant conversion to begin.
Photo: Swamplox inbox
A Swamplot reader sends photos of a few street-fronting changes over at the new Pizza Motus moving in next to West University Masonic Lodge No. 1292: There’s now a sign on the storefront and some benches on the sidewalk outside it. A bit tougher to spot is the door in the middle of the concave façade; it recently turned green.
Former tenant Edloe St. Cafe had the whole place painted red during its time inside:
The storefront between Athleta and Altar’d State on University Blvd. won’t be vacant for much longer: a building permit filed yesterday indicates Warby Parker is about to move into the space. Before it gets there, a few renovations will overhaul the 2,500-sq.-ft. box pictured at top, which lost its Yankee Candle lettering (shown above) around January when the former tenant wrapped up its close-out sale and shut its doors for good.
Since longtime Times Blvd. tenant G&G Model Shop left its storefront last August, the space has been whitened, renovated and snapped up by ArtMix Creative Learning Center — a children’s art school that relocated from 3701 W. Alabama St. earlier this year. But the model shop — located at 2522 Times for over 60 years — remains attached to the space. A G&G representative told Swamplot previously that the metal sign would follow the business over to its new spot in the strip center at the corner of 59 and Shepherd (home to a few more elderly Rice Village expats as well).
But just last Thursday, a poster on HAIF noted that address is still crowned by a temporary vinyl banner: