The photo at top shows Cypress Ace Hardware attempting to label its most obscure class of goods, the odds and ends customers know they want but struggle to put a name on. Turns out they’re actually top sellers at the 11655 Jones Rd. store: “We have so many people that walk in with a random part in their hand,” co-owner Susan Murff tells the Chronicle’s Rebecca Hennes. Their question: “Do you carry these doohickies?”
Installed about 8 months ago, the DOOHICKIES lettering matches signs that aren’t visible in the photos but run horizontally to the left and right of what’s pictured, advertising the rest of the store’s offerings: tools, paint, electrical items, plumbing supplies, a fudge bar, and an on-site post office. (There’s also an “indoor grilling center where customers can schedule a time to cook their favorite meat on a grill they are interested in buying,” reports Hennes.) As for what corporate’s got to say, each Ace store is individually owned, so local management gets some editorial power over its own décor.
Photos: Karen M. (storefront); Cypress Ace Hardware & Feed (sign)
The Writing on the Wall
The new name for the area restaurants formerly known as Ruggles Green is part of a strategy for the Houston-based chain to disassociate itself with local chef Bruce Molzan, its CEO admits. “Yes, we want to distance ourselves from him,” Jason Morgan tells Chronicle reporter Andrea Rumbaugh. Morgan’s investment firm, Hargett Hunter Capital Partners, purchased Ruggles Green last October. Today the firm announced it is rebranding all 5 area restaurants as Bellagreen, a move presaged by the publication in its social media feeds earlier this month of the photo above — showing its patio at CityCentre while artfully eliding the signage.
Molzan, the longtime chef at the former Ruggles Grill on Westheimer, is no longer an owner of the Ruggles Green chain he cofounded, but he and his ex-wife retain rights to the Ruggles name. But there’s more than the risk of too many confusing Ruggleses for Bellagreen to contend with; there’s also the issue of Molzan’s fish-y reputation: Molzan was accused by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department earlier this year of operating Texas’s largest-ever unlicensed seafood network, selling illegally caught finfish to restaurants, including Ruggles Black and Ruggles Green, for almost 4 years.
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MORE HOUSTON RETAIL BREAKUPS: ALFRED ANGELO BRIDAL CALLS IT QUITS Bridesmaid- and wedding-dress store Alfred Angelo appears to be shuttering all 62 of its locations nationwide, amid reports of a possible sudden bankruptcy filing. That would leave the Galleria-area Al’s Formal Wear all alone — it sits next door to the Alfred Angelo Bridal in the strip shopping center at 1801 Post Oak Blvd. It should leave the Al’s Formal Wear in the Baybrook Square shopping center kinda lonely too — it faces the Gulf Fwy. right next door to the Alfred Angelo Bridal at 1201 W. Bay Area Blvd. in Webster. The third Houston-area Alfred Angelo location — pictured above in the Commons at Willowbrook shopping center, across from the Willowbrook Mall at 7550-A FM 1960 West — is a little more sequestered from its tuxedo counterpart: Alfred Angelo sits between a DSW Shoe Warehouse and a Ross Dress for Less; the Al’s Formal Wear is wedged between a Panda Express and a Beck’s Prime on the opposite side of the shopping center parking lot. [abc13] Photo: Alfred Angelo Bridal
5 SLIM CHICKENS CAUGHT CROSSING HOUSTON BORDER The Slim Chicken drive-ups in Katy, Cypress, Spring, and Humble will soon be joined by 5 new locations of the restaurant franchise inside the Houston city limits. First up: wings and Texas-shaped waffles will become available at 9850 Louetta Rd. in Vintage Lakes, right by Aldi and just down the street from the fast-food mecca known as Vintage Marketplace. A Kingwood location at 30255 Loop 494 should open later this summer, though it isn’t clear if the Arkansas-based chain is counting that location as one of its 5 genuine Houston spots. [Eater Houston] Photo of the Slim Chicken opened late last year at 9255 FM 1960 Bypass Rd. in Humble: Edwin R.
HOUSTON BASEMENT NOW OFFERING IMMERSIVE VHS RENTAL STORE EXPERIENCE TO A FEW TAPEHEADS IN THE KNOW “It’s like the 80s threw up everywhere,”” eponymous Champion Video Rental founder Jason Champion tells LunchmeatVHS of his on-the-down-low basement video rental store, tucked away somewhere off Mills Rd. outside the Beltway. As of last month, Champion says the store is only open to friends and acquaintances for now, though he hopes to change that eventually; decor includes the full gamut of 80s video store memorabilia, like “a display case with candy, trading cards, VCRs, blank tapes, tape rewinders, and popcorn,” a free-play horror arcade machine, and various and sundry movie posters and movie-store accoutrements. Should the spot, which Champion describes on Facebook as a “VHS rental store, time machine, and video rental store museum,” go more public at some point, it might pick up the title of the only VHS-dedicated rental space left in town in the post-Blockbuster era. Last month’s opening of the literally and figuratively underground shop follows in the wake of Heights’ Weirdo Video’s brief run, the closure of Audio/Video Plus on Waugh Dr., and the move of Cactus Music (which didn’t bring its VHS collection with it to the current spot on Portsmouth St.). [Lunchmeat VHS via Dangerous Minds; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Champion Video Rental
As of a few minutes ago, Star Cinema Grill has officially announced its purchase and takeover of the Alamo Drafthouse in Vintage Park, plus plans to redo the interior with some “modern decór”. An unusually-light-and-getting-lighter December schedule tipped some movie hounds off to an impending change, though neither company was ready to confirm anything by the end of last week; Alamo closed as Alamo for the last time on Sunday, however, and as of earlier today the theater appeared to have completed its Facebook identity swap (and to have fielded answers to at least one skeptical Alamo customer’s since-deleted commentary on the matter).
The shift knocks Alamo back down to just 1 Houston-area location in Mason Park, following several years of floated potential expansion plans for Midtown and maybe-moving-forward-again Regent Square; the Austin export still has plans listed for a new theater in Sugar Land’s Imperial Market complex. Star Cinema, meanwhile, says the Vintage Park spot will reopen under the new name by Friday, and claims the chain’ll be up to 6 Houston-ish locations by the end of 2017.
Photo of former Alamo Drafthouse in Vintage Park: Casey W.
It’s in a newish neighborhood of Western-themed street names north of Louetta near SH 249, but a former model home for the Vintage Royale subdivision appears more city mouse than country mouse (one particularly fond of its berry-pistachio-chocolate diet). Built in 2010 and yet-to-be occupied, the tropical punched promo home was listed last week, with an asking price of $269,900.
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Construction started yesterday on this Kirksey-designed office building for Noble Energy. The 450,000-sq.-ft. Energy Center Two, located on the site of the former Hewlett-Packard and current Lone Star Community College campus at Hwy. 249 and Louetta Rd., will pair with an existing 497,000-sq.-ft. building that Noble Energy had had renovated.
Rendering: Kirksey Architecture
Before construction can begin next month on this 4-story apartment complex planned for the southwest corner of Cypresswood Dr. and the Tomball Pkwy., some things have to go. Developers Embry and Stonelake Capital appear to have in mind an unscraped 15.4-acre site that’s thick with trees, and Real Estate Bisnow’s Catie Dixon reports that the demise of an “existing structure” is imminent. But she doesn’t say which one. And neither has Embry. But: The manager at the Arby’s there on Cypresswood says it’s not the Arby’s.
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Construction’s expected to begin next week on this Whole Foods at that once-forested spot near Louetta and Cutten Rd. east of the Tomball Pkwy. The 40,443-sq.-ft. store in the master-planned community The Vintage, south of the path of the Grand Parkway, will be the first Whole Foods in North Houston. Houston Business Journal‘s Shaina Zucker notes that the Gensler-designed store will anchor the 18-acre Vintage Marketplace.
Image: Judy Nichols & Associates, via Houston Business Journal
The director of the Bayou Land Conservancy announced yesterday that a 100-acre tract of flood-prone land surrounding Cypress Creek just south of the Hewlett-Packard campus between Hwy. 249 and Jones Rd. will now become a permanent conservation easement. (Segments of the waterway marked in dark and light blue in the map at right indicate the 100-year floodway and 100-year floodplain, respectively.) The land trust purchased the property with help from a $500,000 Houston Endowment grant; plans are to incorporate the tract into the planned Cypress Creek Greenway, extending the full length of the bayou from Spring Creek to the Katy Prairie:
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Scratch that whole Whole Foods Market reannouncing its BLVD Place plans bit. The new Houston store the grocery company announced yesterday will be a 40,000-sq.-ft. spot in a new strip center planned for the Champions area — on a now-forested plot of land at the southeast corner of Louetta Rd. and Cutten Rd., a few blocks east of the Vintage Park shopping center. And it won’t open until 2014.