06/14/17 3:30pm

BERNIE’S BURGER BUS ALCOHOL LICENSE DETAINED AFTER PROXIMITY TO SCHOOL Maybe you’ve heard the rumor — that the opening of the Bernie’s Burger Bus wheels-off location now all but complete next to the pediatric clinic in the new Braun Enterprises commercial building constructed on the former Alabama Furniture spot at 2200 Yale St. in the Heights has been delayed on account of the owners having trouble getting a beer and wine license because they didn’t take into consideration the fact that the restaurant’s 22nd St. side (pictured above under construction in April) would be across the street from Hamilton Junior High School? It’s true — well sort of, but not entirely. “The rumors are correct,” Bus chef Justin Turner explains on the restaurant’s Facebook page. There have indeed been “issues with the timeliness of getting our license due to the proximity of the school.” But, Turner writes, “We had all that info even before signing the lease.” What’s the issue then? The laws regarding alcohol sales near schools “are vague and very subjective . . . different people had different interpretations,” Turner notes. The owners were “told the variance that had to be filed with city of Houston would only take 30-45 days and it went on just over 120. . . . Long story short we’re [past] the city of Houston and on to Austin where we expect no or very little delays.” Best guesses for an opening date? “Our hope is end of July or early August but unfortunately at this time it is out of our control and left up to the guidance of our legal team and the information they provide us from the city and the state.” [Bernie’s Burger Bus via HAIF] Photo: Bernie’s Burger Bus

07/12/16 4:15pm

1931 Fairview St., Vermont Commons, Houston, 77019

TABC Notice at 1931 Fairview, July 2016A different kind of sign has popped up at the corner of Fairview Ave. and Morse St., notes a reader — the 1961 building that formerly housed McGowen Cleaners (shown above earlier this year decked out in NewQuest Properties sales banners) now sports a notice that the new owners have applied for a handful of food, beverage, and mixed drink permits from the TABC. The sign names Vibrant Living LLC as the applicant for the licenses; an entity by the same name (headquartered in the address of office and retail developer Barnhart Interests) purchased the 3 adjacent lots at the corner from former Cleaners owner and operator George Groschke in May.


What’s Cooking in Montrose
05/11/16 3:30pm

TABC regional headquarters in Heights Medical Tower, 427 West 20th Street, Suite 600 Houston Heights, Houston, 77008

A group called the Houston Heights Beverage Coalition PAC is hoping to bring about a vote on allowing beer and wine sales in the technically dry section of the Houston Heights. The group published a notice on May 5th announcing an application to the city to start collecting the petition signatures required to get the measure on a local option ballot.

Here’s the text of the required public notice:


Watering Down the Dry Laws
04/27/16 10:30am

1836 Polk St., Downtown, Houston, 77002

A sign zip-tied onto the fence around the parking lot at 1836 Polk St. is currently announcing an application by FreeRange Concepts to sell mixed drinks at the spot.  Up in Dallas, the company operates bar-slash-bowling alley Bowl & Barrel, bar-slash-dogpark Mutts Canine Cantina, restaurant-slash-music-venue The Rustic, and slashless restaurant The General Public. Houston locations of Bowl & Barrel and The General Public are currently under construction in CityCentre.

It’s unclear whether FreeRange has cast the Polk location for a sequel to one of its existing brands, or for something new. The TABC notice is posted on the full-block parking lot bounded by Jackson, Hamilton, and Bell streets just east of 59 and just south of the George R. Brown Convention Center. That block has previously appeared in the convention center’s 2025 Master Plan, as a site of possible future expansion:


Liquoring Up by GRB
04/12/16 11:15am

Shepherd Commons, 2015 Shepherd Dr., River Oaks, Houston, 77019

Shepherd Commons, 2015 Shepherd Dr., River Oaks, Houston, 77019The first 2 waves of decorative railing are now stretching north off the edge of the new building at 2015 S. Shepherd Dr., the first half of the Shepherd Commons shopping center planned for the site. Per the renderings released back in 2013 , the 3rd and 4th waves should follow after the Hot Bagel Shop and River Oaks Nails jump ship from the original single-story strip center immediately to the north at 2009 S. Shepherd; after that, the old structure is slated for demolition to make way for part 2 of the new one.

Back in 2014, both businesses had plans to move into the space at 2015 S. Shepherd when it’s ready. (We Buy Gold, which wasn’t going to join in on the trip, has already been replaced in the old center by Cell Phone reStore).  Hot Bagel says it’s still planning to move in next door as soon as it can; a reader also spotted notice of an application submitted late last fall to sell food and drinks, including beer and wine, behind one of the site’s still-tape-dotted windows. The name on that application belongs to a corporate entity sharing an address with Fu Fu Restaurant in Dun Huang Plaza along Bellaire Blvd. at Beltway 8.

Visible in the background just south of the new building is kickboxing studio 9Round, followed by the Chipotle facing the corner of Shepherd with Indiana St. Here’s another look at what the center could look like after round 2 of construction gets knocked out:


Bagels Rolling South
04/08/16 12:30pm

Shopping Center planned at 3519 Clinton Dr., Fifth Ward, Houston, 77020

Shopping Center planned at 3519 Clinton Dr., Fifth Ward, Houston, 77020

A reader notes a notice on the formerly-barred now-boarded front window of the building at the corner of Bringhurst St. and Clinton Dr. The sign tells tale of an application to the TABC to sell mixed drinks at the spot, late at night, under the name of The New Potato. The restaurant space, formerly Taco Loco prior a late-2000’s stint as Nina’s Cafe, sits a block east of the Harris Machine Tools facility, a block south of a field of townhomes, and a block north of the 136-acre former KBR site, tagged a few years back for use as a helicopter landing spot.

The bar-to-be’s current grey-and-white color scheme came about back in 2013. Here’s a peek back in time at the the bright orange Taco Loco days, followed by the turn-of-the-decade Nina’s yellowing:


Clinton at Bringhurst
03/04/16 4:30pm

Proposed Mellow Mushroom, 1919 N. Shepherd Dr., Houston Heights, Houston, 77008

A reader notes a notice of an application to sell alcohol posted on the door of the former Dealer Sales building at 1919 N. Shepherd Dr. The HBJ reported last August that Atlanta-based pizza-and-recently-burger chain Mellow Mushroom leased the space at the corner with 20th St. from serial redeveloper Braun Enterprises. The chain, which dropped its first Houston-area spore up in Spring, appears to be sprouting its second location within the somewhat ambiguous boundaries of the Houston Heights’ nominally dry zone.

The pizza place may provide more savory counterbalance to the sugar-laced shopping strip just to the south on the same block — where Fat Cat Creamery, Hugs & Donuts, and Smoothie King all nestle in with Finch Properties and hair salon Black Sheep Parlor along 19th St., sheltered by N. Shepherd-facing Ka Sushi. Renderings released last year for the redeveloping building show the Mushroom popping open in line with some additional retail space; the strip could also get lawyered up:


Sober News on N. Shepherd
01/14/16 10:15am

Construction of Kirby Ice House at 3333 Eastside St., Upper Kirby, Houston, 77098

Down the street from Lamar High School, the would-have-been-Little-Woodrow’s now going instead by Kirby Ice House (“A Neighborhood Pearl”) is setting up shop at 3333 Eastside St., between the parking lot used for the weekly Urban Harvest Farmer’s Market and the Bammel Park townhomes. A post to the establishment’s Facebook page earlier this week shows that the under-construction building has just finished turning an icy blue, and the accompanying caption says that work is moving into “the detail phase”.

The bar’s across-the-street neighbors include nonprofit women’s career services center Dress for Success and the main building of the Islamic Society of Greater Houston — both groups expressed concern about the bar’s location in 2014 after the president of the Bammel Park Homeowner’s Association sounded a neighborhood-wide email alarm. Dress for Success filed a protest of the ice house’s TABC license that July; the license was issued in December of that same year.

A rendering of the building’s exterior shows the ice house standing next to a townhouse-free field:


Ice on Upper Kirby
06/15/15 1:00pm

1720 Houston Ave., First Ward, Houston

1720 Houston Ave., First Ward, HoustonBlank Slate Tattoo Removal decamped from the corner spot of this building at Houston Ave and Crockett St. at the end of January. (You can head for 5320 Cornish Rd. in Cottage Grove now to correct your body-inked misspellings.) In its place, there’s a new sign up at 1720 Houston Ave., providing evidence that a new beer-and-wine-serving cafe is getting ready to move in — right next door to Café Brussels. The street-front First Ward building just north of downtown was built in 1925.

Photos: Swamplot inbox

09/18/13 1:30pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: HOW TO WORK AROUND THE HOUSTON HEIGHTS DRY ZONE “Can someone explain to a non native Houstonian how this ‘private club’ thing works? So you can’t sell alcohol in some areas, but you can if you’re a ‘private club’? So what’s to stop anyone that wants to open any regular type of place that sells booze to call themselves a private club?” [Cody, commenting on Putting the Finishing Typefaces on the Heights General Store] Illustration: Lulu

11/09/12 1:17pm

The verdicts handed down this week in the court case connected to a dispute between the owners of 3 bars carved out of the former Settegast Kopf funeral home on Kirby Dr. at Colquitt, their landlord, and residents of the subdivision that surrounds it are a tad complicated. As a result of the jury decisions, neighborhood homeowners are now asking the judge to force 2 of the bars — Roak and Hendricks Pub — to stop selling alcohol. One of the jurors in the case offers Swamplot readers a detailed explanation of the decision:


10/03/12 5:34pm

A NEW TEETOTALING CIRCLE LANDS ON LANCASTER PLACE By a vote of city council, St. Stephen’s Episcopal School today became the seventh private school in the city to be granted a 1,000-ft. alcohol-free zone around its campus. Included within that circumference around 1800 Sul Ross St.: the H-E-B Montrose Market that opened last November on the former site of the Wilshire Village Apartments. Last year St. Stephen’s lost a court battle over restricting alcohol sales at the grocery store, though the battle did end up delaying the start of H-E-B beer and wine sales until shortly before New Year’s. The new restrictions will not apply to businesses that already hold alcohol licenses, but they could make a difference to other developments planned near the corner of Dunlavy and West Alabama. [St. Stephen’s; previously on Swamplot] Photo of Divino restaurant, 1830 West Alabama: Gabe C.

02/03/12 1:51pm

Following up on that former warehouse at 954 Wakefield St. in Oak Grove that last spring looked like it was well on its way to becoming a new beach volleyball venue, a passerby reports a couple of seemingly contradictory signs. On the one hand, there’s now a TABC notice taped to a window, dated earlier in January, which indicates that HFL Construction is applying for an alcohol license for this location. And the volleyball courts (at left in the above photo) look a bit more complete than they did last April. On the other hand, there’s now also a for-sale sign with the HFL Construction logo on it posted in front of the peoperty, the reader says.

Photos: Swamplot inbox

12/28/11 9:18pm

ST. STEPHEN’S LOSES APPEAL; MONTROSE H-E-B BEER AND WINE SALES BEGIN THURSDAY A judge today denied an appeal by St. Stephen’s Episcopal School, allowing the new Montrose H-E-B on the corner of Dunlavy and West Alabama to begin pouring beer and wine for customers tomorrow at 2 pm. Earlier this month, County Judge Ed Emmett ruled that the St. Stephen’s building within 300 ft. of the new store’s property line at 1755 Sul Ross St. did not itself qualify as a private school under state alcohol rules, in part because fewer than 100 students attend courses at that particular location. [Prime Property; background; previously on Swamplot]

11/18/11 5:45pm

A Swamplot tipster is claiming that H-E-B’s Montrose Market, which opened earlier this week without a liquor license, will have difficulty obtaining one — unless some strings are pulled. Before the opening, H-E-B had announced plans not only to sell packaged beer and wine in the new store on the former site of the Wilshire Village apartments at the corner of Dunlavy and West Alabama, but to allow customers to order drinks by the glass and take them to the store’s outdoor patio as well.

But the license did not come through by the opening date. H-E-B Houston president Scott McClelland told Chronicle reporter David Kaplan on opening day that he expected it to come through in 4 to 5 weeks. A company spokesperson tells Swamplot that until the license is approved by the TABC, the store has stocked its future liquor department with other items for sale. What could have caused the holdup?