12/17/14 12:00pm

3704-fannin-st

Next up at 3704 Fannin, known to some as the old Evelyn Wilson Interiors building, The Vanderbilt Sports Lounge.

It’s a block or two from the bustling Ensemble MetroRail stop and the under-construction Mid Main mixed-use development.

Once complete, the Vanderbilt promises 55 teevees airing football, baseball, basketball, hockey, soccer, boxing, and UFC, an “upscale menu,” and a third-floor cocktail lounge with a panoramic view of the city.

The building is owned and being renovated by Cody Lutsch of Fat Properties Property, a frequent Swamplot commenter and until now, known more as a purchaser of aging Inner Loop apartment buildings.

Lutsch sent us a few pics of the Vanderbilt’s ongoing renovations, along with a few “before” shots:

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Fannin The Flames
12/15/14 3:30pm

mangos-side-view-for-lease

A Montrose hang for lovers of live punk, metal and experimental sounds, Mango’s nightclub has sprouted a “for lease” sign.

The building at 403 Westheimer Rd. next door to Avant Garden has a history as colorful as its newly-painted exterior walls and patio:

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The Ever-Changing Face Of Montrose
11/20/14 1:45pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: HOW MT. YUPPIE WAS FORMED On Top of Mt. Yuppie“When this place opened, there was a ‘oh no, here come the yuppies‘ reaction. Now, years later, it is closing and people are complaining about how the Heights is losing its character. Basically, a reprise of ‘oh no, here come the yuppies.’ It is really just the process of yuppie sedimentary rock formation. Yuppies get older, have kids and become boring. Their hangouts go out of style and go out of business. Then, the next layer of yuppies comes in and opens new businesses and the prior layer of former yuppies groan about the neighborhood losing its character.” [Old School, commenting on Sunset Heights Wine Bar The Boom Boom Room Will Close Forever This Friday] Illustration: Lulu

11/04/14 11:00am

WHEN TILMAN FERTITTA CAME TO THE SHILOH CLUB Shiloh Club, 1321 Studewood St., Houston HeightsA reader reports a rare sighting of Landry’s CEO Tilman Fertitta in the Heights over the weekend. Was it part of some sort of kinda-undercover reconnaissance mission? “. . . you’ll NEVER guess where he stopped . . . SHILOH’s! Yes, the old dive bar where you watch your grandparents drink themselves under the table next to a heavily tattooed bicyclist. Tilman came in, ordered a drink and began asking about the neighborhood. I don’t think anybody there recognized him except for myself, the bartender, and my table of friends who were all industry veterans. Not sure what he’s got planned but don’t be surprised if you hear about a new Landry’s property opening in the Heights within a few months.” [Swamplot inbox; previously on Swamplot] Photo of Shiloh Club, 1321 Studewood St.: Heights Blog

08/22/14 1:30pm

Brewery Incubator and League of Extraordinary Brewers Brewpub, 907 Franklin St., Suite 150, Downtown Houston

“Never would a game of strip Twister be so badly regretted,” writes Lucrece Borrego in announcing the sudden closure of her innovative Downtown food-business incubator turned brewery-incubator business on the ground floor of the Bayou Lofts building at 907 Franklin St. An eviction notice the two-time startup-startup starter was handed by an attorney representing her landlord as Borrego was cooking for a steak-night “bottle share” event last Friday cited several reasons for the termination of her lease, most of them focusing on items encountered in a common-area hallway outside the business: empty beer kegs and boxes (Borrego says they were left after deliveries), “personal items” (likely including a motorcycle, a source tells Swamplot) — and a live game of naked Twister.

“Indeed,” Borrego writes, “I had agreed to host a naked game night: a completely private event that takes place at bars all over Houston regularly. We covered all the windows and had someone working the door. Only one thing went wrong.

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Downtown Brewery Startup Space Evicted
08/11/14 1:45pm

913 Franklin St., Downtown Houston

The space at 913 Franklin St. downtown (pictured to the left of the red awning in the photo above), which has been vacant since the Franklin Street Coffee House shut down there in the late aughts, is due to open again later this year as a bar named the Drawing Room. The 2-story “saloon-style” space between Travis and Main St. will have seating areas on the second floor that overlook the bar and the first floor. The lobby of the Bayou Lofts is next door; before its incarnation as a coffee shop, the space was used as a jewelry store.

Photo: The Drawing Room

The Drawing Room
07/28/14 1:45pm

Future Home of Bovine and Barley, 416 Main St., Downtown Houston

bovine-barley-noticeA TABC mixed-beverage notice for a new eating and drinking establishment has been posted to the storefront at 416 Main St. next to Georgia’s Market downtown, fronting the 3,600-sq.-ft. space last occupied by Mexican restaurant El Centro Comida y Copas, reports the RDA’s Allyn West. The new venture, named Bovine and Barley, appears to be connected to the owners of The Refinery, the burgers-and-whiskey joint just west of the downtown at 702 W. Dallas St.

Photos: Allyn West

Ingredients for a New Bar
07/24/14 11:15am

Construction of Doc's Bar & Grill, 1303 Westheimer Rd., Montrose, Houston

Rendering of Doc's Bar & Grill, 1303 Westheimer Rd., Montrose, HoustonWhat’s been going on with the transformation of the former Wendy’s at 1303 Westheimer Rd. into the first Houston location of Doc’s Bar & Grill? The Austin import had been aiming for a November opening — last year. Now the target date is late August — a full year after Swamplot’s original story on the venture. A publicist attributes the delay to “a city plan to widen Westheimer,” which triggered some sort of redesign.

Here’s how it’s supposed to look when it’s finished:

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Doc’s in Montrose
06/24/14 1:45pm

2505 Mason St. and 115 Hyde Park Blvd., Avondale, Houston

2505 Mason St. and 115 Hyde Park Blvd., Avondale, HoustonA reader sends Swamplot photos of this TABC notice posted on the door of 2505 Mason St. in Avondale. That’s the side address of the Pictures Plus framing company and Hyde Park Gallery building, whose entrance is around the corner — and under the David Adickes sculpture of a bewhiskered telephone (at far left in the top photo) — at 115 Hyde Park Blvd. The notice announces a Brewheme Brewery coming to the property, and lists 307 Fairview as the applicant’s address. That spot, one block up and 2 blocks over, is the home of Montrose bar Boheme.

Photos: Swamplot inbox

Pictures Plus Beer?
06/10/14 12:45pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: THE ROOMS IN THE OLD RICE HOTEL HAVE BEEN SHUFFLED AROUND A BIT Drawing of Former Flag Room Restaurant, Rice Hotel, Downtown, HoustonJim is absolutely correct. The Old Capitol Club was adjacent to The Flag Room, on the first floor. The Flag Room space is now Sambuca. A little internet sleuthing pulls up a dining room shot of some built in booths surrounding structural columns that now frame the stage at Sambuca.” [Josh, commenting on The Rice Hotel’s Storied State Bar, a Favorite Among Lawyers, Will Soon Turn into a Lawless Kitchen] Illustration: Lulu

06/09/14 3:00pm

Future and Past Home of Live Sports Bar, 405 Main St., Downtown Houston

Be careful not to confuse these life-and-death downtown bar stories: As we learned this morning, the Live! at Bayou Place bars are now dead. But the Live Sports Bar (no exclamation point!), which died back in 2009 at 405 Main St. is about to be resurrected. But in name and address only: A Live Sports Bar — same name, but with different owners — will be opening up in a slightly smaller version of the original space (4,000 sq. ft., marked down from 6,140) across from the Preston St. light-rail stop sometime in the next few months, once the buildout is complete. A Swamplot reader captured the above photo showing the new head-turning banner now posted out front.

Photo: Swamplot inbox

Same Name, Same Spot, Different Owners
06/09/14 11:00am

Live at Bayou Place, 534 Texas Ave., Downtown Houston

The 4-bar complex upstairs in downtown’s Bayou Place known collectively as Live! at Bayou Place shut down at the end of last month. ”Cowboy bar” PBR, Lucie’s Liquors, Shark Bar, and Chapel Spirits had replaced Slick Willie’s Pool Hall and Rocbar in 2011, around the same time the Sundance Cinemas took over the Angelika Film Center spot downstairs in the same building. (Previous upstairs nightspots had included BAR Houston and Whiskey Creek.) The 4 bars took up 18,000 sq. ft. of space, and required a single admission for entry.

A reader notes that Sundance, The Blue Fish, the Bayou Music Center, the Wine Cellar, Hard Rock Cafe, and Italian restaurant Little Napoli are still open in the same building, a 130,000-sq.-ft. entertainment complex carved out of the former Albert Thomas Convention Center almost 17 years ago.

Photo: Shea Serrano

Downtown Shutdowns
06/05/14 1:00pm

State Bar at Rice Lofts, 909 Texas Ave., Downtown Houston

State Bar at Rice Lofts, 909 Texas Ave., Downtown HoustonThe State Bar and Lounge, which shut down this past weekend after more than 15 years in a storied space that was formerly home to the Capitol Club in the Rice Hotel, is about to undergo a “massive remodel,” a source tells Swamplot.

The members-only Capitol Club was once the haunt of a number of powerful and well-known attorneys, politicians and other powerful men in the city; according to KHOU’s Doug Miller, it was also the site of President Kennedy’s last drink (unless, of course, he polished off a few more daiquiris in his hotel room after his late-November 1963 visit). In its quasi-reconstruction and rebirth as a public establishment after the renovation of the Rice Hotel into the Rice Lofts in 1998, the spot maintained popularity among lawyers — especially the newly minted ones: Many would head to the State Bar to celebrate passing the state bar.

To judge it by its name, however, the new second-story venue now being planned there may have a slightly different set of guiding principles. A bar named Lawless Kitchen and Spirits will open in the space after renovations are complete, the source tells Swamplot.

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Is This Still Legal?
06/02/14 2:30pm

With an entertaining, droll video (see above), a close-to-Downtown location already picked out, and a “first ever in Houston” concept, the fundraising effort for the Press Start Bar seemed to have a lot going for it. Alas, the Kickstarter game plan for the planned console-videogame-themed nightspot has failed to reach its high-score goal. After 30 days on the crowdfunding platform, the crew garnered $18,483 in pledges from 81 different backers. That’s impressive for a first try at the controls, but a bit shy of the stated $50,000 its founders said they needed to secure the proposed location — “off Rusk and St. Emanuel” (between the 59 overpass and BBVA Compass Stadium) — obtain building permits, and get started with TABC licensing, to be able to serve craft beers and Pokemon-themed cocktails, among other menu items.

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Press Restart
05/30/14 12:45pm

Marfreless, 2006 Peden St., River Oaks Shopping Center, HoustonThe former operators of Marfreless — the oh-so-dark bar that hid behind the unmarked blue door under the stairs in back of the River Oaks Shopping Center for more than a decade until shutting down in the middle of last year — filed a lawsuit earlier this month against the group that later renovated the space and opened a bar of the same name inside it in January of this year. In essence, the suit claims that the bar’s current operators are imposters, and are using the Marfreless name in its former leased location — and claiming to have reopened it — without permission. “Marfreless was temporarily closed in March of 2013, when it transitioned to new ownership, the third in its distinguished lifetime,” reads the new Marfreless website, created by the bar’s current operators. But the lawsuit claims that isn’t true. “Despite these representations by Defendant,” reads a filing by Marfreless Ventures, LP, “no such ownership transition has ever taken place.”

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The Lawsuit Behind the Bar