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:


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.


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.


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.”


The Lawsuit Behind the Bar
05/29/14 12:00pm

THAT BAR ON THE RICE HOTEL BALCONY IS CLOSING Patio, State Bar & Lounge, 909 Texas Ave., Rice Lofts, Downtown HoustonAnother change coming to the Rice Lofts, now that an entity connected to the Trammell Crow family has purchased the building from Post Properties, and apartment-management duties are being turned over to Greystar: The State Bar and Lounge, which spilled out onto the Travis St. side of the former Rice Hotel’s second-floor deck facing Texas Ave., is shutting down, sources tell Swamplot. Last call will be late Saturday night. Photo: The State Bar

05/02/14 5:00pm

MAYBE WE SHOULD ROUND UP THE USUAL SUSPECTS Former Home of the Usual, 5519 Allen St. at T.C. Jester Blvd., Cottage Grove, HoustonWhat’s happened to the bar building by the Cottage Grove railroad tracks at 5519 Allen St. at the corner of T.C. Jester since lesbian bar The Usual shut down there in February? Perhaps a sale of the property and something new going in — but what? ”Looks like someone bought the former home of The Usual,” reports a reader who drove by the site Friday and sent in this photo. “For sale sign is gone and there were workers in there today.” [Previously on Swamplot] Photo: Swamplot inbox

04/11/14 12:15pm

Vacant Strip Center, 4122 Willowbend Blvd. at Craighead Dr., Westwood, Houston

Former Carolyn's Bar at Vacant Strip Center, 4122 Willowbend Blvd. at Craighead Dr., Westwood, HoustonCarolyn’s, the dive bar at the corner of Craighead and Willowbend Blvd. across the train tracks from the Willowbend subdivision closed sometime around the end of last month, a reader notes. Back in 2008, the bar at 10711 Craighead Dr. won the Houston Press award for Best Hidden Bar. For years, Carolyn’s (pictured at right, behind the “canopy”) was the sole remaining tenant in the dilapidated but once-stylin’ classic 1959 strip center with vintage details stretched along that corner. Now, reports the reader, it appears the 18,600-sq.-ft. center is entirely empty — despite the remaining sign facing Willowbend for the Fruit of the Spirit Community Church (“Developing Fruitful Lives,” above).


Everybody Out of the Strip Center
04/09/14 10:00am

Rendering of the Proposed Collection on Kirby, 3200 Kirby Dr., Upper Kirby, Houston

The website of New York real estate firm Thor Equities has switched out the renderings for the full-block Kirby Collection mixed-use development it’s been threatening to build on the west side of Kirby Dr. between Colquitt and W. Main St. for almost 6 years now. And the new Collection drawing collection does look pretty whizzy. It appears to show 2 levels of retail facing Kirby, a dozen-or-so-story office tower along Colquitt, and a taller squashed-cylinder-shaped residential tower on top of a parking-garage base hanging back toward Lake St.:


The Kirby Collection
03/11/14 2:00pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: NEED MORE BARS HIGH IN THE SKY Sky Bar“It’s amazing to me how many people appreciate what Cody’s Skybar offered Houston, while it never seemed to inspire imitators. It’s remarkable how a little elevation can lend so much atmosphere to a place in a flat city like Houston. Even when the weather was hot & humid. It was a delight to hang out on the outdoor patio and enjoy the view. . . .” [Guido, commenting on How the Montrose ‘Skybar’ Building Demo Is Going Down] Illustration: Lulu

03/07/14 10:30am

Shepherd Place Office Tower, 2323 S. Shepherd, HoustonWhy would patrons at Rita Wanstrom’s Roaring 60s bar at 2305 S. Shepherd Dr. — just north of Fairview — regularly retreat to the bathroom to put their pants on backwards? In the late 1980s, the site of the nightspot, along with a few neighboring buildings, was replaced with the Shepherd Place office tower pictured above (an enterprise that reportedly bankrupted former governor John Connolly and a few other investors in the project). But back in the uh, roaring sixties, the bar was a famed lesbian hangout — subject to regular police raids focused on female zipper placement.


Lesbians in the Roaring 60s