A city permit was approved last week to convert a portion of the building that once housed the A&M Pet Clinic at 5010 Dincans St. into a wine bar. The 2-story building is across the street from the new apartment block Hanover is completing between Bissonnet and North Blvd. just west of Kirby Dr. The Swamplot reader who visited the closing-after-New-Year’s West U recycling center just to the north of the property finds the posted TABC notice, which identifies the applicant as Catering Plus. Ray Memari, co-owner of the Antica Osteria Italian Restaurant on Bissonnet just west of Greenbriar, purchased the building last year.
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COMMENT OF THE DAY: CLUB SOME TIME AGO “Wow . . . far cry from the Emo’s and Club Some days that were housed on the first floor. Anyone remember the algae stricken pool as well as skateboard half pipe that was in the courtyard? Or better yet, the outdoor bathrooms that had no doors and long lines . . . shy guys need not apply. Those were the days. [AmyHM, commenting on A Serene Single Bedroom in an Un-Orphaned Villa Serena] Illustration: Lulu
SAY HOWDY TO THE LARGEST GAY COUNTRY BAR IN TEXAS Lamenting the closing of Brazos River Bottom in Midtown, the new owners of the 1955 Esquire Ballroom — where a young Willie Nelson, among other country crooners, cut his teeth — say they are restoring the vacant dancehall and saloon and will be opening on August 24 what they claim is the largest LGBT country bar in Texas. At 11410 Hempstead Hwy. in Spring Branch, the 10,000-sq.ft. building is now named Neon Boots and, according to a press release, is being renovated to include a “huge dance floor and performance stage, six bar stations, table service, [and an] expansive outdoor area with deck and patio. The owners also anticipate installing a mechanical bull.” [Neon Boots; previously on Swamplot] Photo of Esquire Ballroom: West Houston Archives
THE RETURN OF MARFRELESS It was only temporary, it turns out, the closing of Houston’s infamous den of PDA: Though reports in March suggested that River Oaks Shopping Center landlords Weingarten had hiked the rent, described cheekily in a press release by Marfreless as “the rising cost of doing business,” it appears that the bar that looks the other way has found new owners and will reopen with the same management in the same spot this summer — and they’ll be fixing up the place, too, they’ve announced in a press release that’s fairly dripping with innuendo: “All this comes with a complete renovation — from wires and carpet to the furniture you . . . sit on. You can expect an updated feel with the same Marfreless experience you’ve come to love. And don’t worry, our upstairs seating and iconic blue door will remain.” [Houston Chronicle; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Flickr user jmcgeough
RUDYARD’S OWNER BUILDING BIGGER BAR IN SHADY ACRES The owner of Rudyard’s British Pub in Montrose has announced that she’ll be building TikTok, a bar, restaurant, and venue for live music in Shady Acres — and, apparently, this new one will be a lot more building than what you get at Rudyard’s. Owner Leila Rodgers tells the Houston Business Journal that TikTok “is expected to have a capacity of 750 to 800 people. She said she expects to be able to host 450 to 500 people in the performance area and 250 to 300 in the restaurant area.” Rudyard’s is at 2010 Waugh Dr. When it opens next summer, TikTok will be at 1412 W. 20th St., near the intersection of W. 20th and T.C. Jester Blvd. — that’s just around the corner from the Hubcap Grill. [Houston Business Journal; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Panoramio user hermieb
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:
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FUNERAL BARS GET THEIR DAY IN COURT The long-simmering legal battle between 3 bars carved out of the remains of the former Settegast-Kopf funeral home on Kirby and 51 nearby residents is scheduled to go to trial next week. The residents and association of the David Crockett subdivision, which includes Roak, Hendricks Pub and Eatery, and OTC Patio Bar within its boundaries — as well as tony Ferndale, Virginia, and Lake streets west of Kirby — are seeking to enforce the neighborhood’s deed restrictions, which prohibit alcohol sales and activities considered a “nuisance.” In a countersuit, the bar owners are alleging racial discrimination, complaining that the neighborhood has not enforced the same restrictions on the Owl Bar and Cafe Express, both of which also serve alcohol. Bar attorney Paul Pilibosian tells reporter David Kaplan that the bars’ lease will expire in a year and a half. The bars do not currently have an option to renew, but Pilibosian says they are seeking ways to stay longer in their current locations. [Houston Chronicle; previously on Swamplot] Photo of Roak pool: Sarah Tressler
EAST END ALCOHOL REPORT A reader from the Country Club Place-Idylwood area checks in with rumors, some news, and questions: “A neighbor who does not do computers had a co-worker tell him that there is to be a ‘Latino topless bar’ open soon near Idylwood. For the life of me, I cannot see where he’s talking about. Of course, the definition of ‘near Idylwood’ is the variable. How can I find out where it will be and if this is true? Are alcohol permits available online? The old Helena Motel property on Wayside at 45 is being developed slowly and right now, a Chick fil A is being built next to the relatively new Taco Cabana. I can’t really see an adult entertainment place going in near that location although that block with the corner is prime for a strip shopping center. Demolition of the old Oshman’s property for Walmart is progressing quickly. Last I heard there was still some question as to whether or not this Walmart would sell beer & wine. The back side of the property is too close to the AAMA School on Maxwell. I imagine a lot of people will be unhappy if they can’t do one stop shopping there. Can you offer some suggestions as to where to begin my sleuthing on the topless bar?” [Swamplot inbox]
A NEW YORK POST REPORTER’S LOST HOUSTON WEEKEND “Exhausted and content, I retired to the patio at El Gran Malo, a cool but divey tequila bar on a superbly awful corner facing a shoot ’n’ stab gas station, a Mexican restaurant and other assorted random Houstonia; I went here because every chef I encountered during my visit told me that this was the spot. I absolutely had to go, they said.
So I went and I drank tequila, because that’s what I saw everyone else doing. A lot of it too, apparently — by the end of the night, I vaguely remember being on the other side of town stalking a food truck selling lobster that may or may not have actually existed. Which was fine — it would be days before I was in a position to eat a proper meal again.” [New York Post] Photo of El Gran Malo: Almost Veggie Houston
Two-time The Bachelor star Brad Womack is planning to open a nightclub with his business partners in Midtown Houston, right across the street from the Metro Midtown apartments, at the corner of Bagby and McIlhenny. Womack’s twin brother Chad, brother Wes, and partner Jason Carrier — they call their company Carmack Concepts — own Sixth St. bars Chuggin’ Monkey, Dizzy Rooster, Molotov, and Dogwood in Austin. Their Houston bar, which they’ll call Dogwood Houston, will be a transformation of a small 1956 commercial building at 2403 Bagby St.
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Looking down onto the roof of the couple-month-old Scott Gertner’s venue downtown, you can see the steel parts of the new rooftop bar soon to be made into a pavilion . . . atop Houston Pavilions. A reader sends this photo of the scene, taken from the Pavilions office tower. At the top left of the photo is the intersection of Fannin and Dallas:
The blue box area located in the middle of the set beams has been there since they started construction for roof access (It used to have the words “No Step” on it). We’ve seen construction workers go in and out of it since then. Most of this work was done last Friday and over the weekend. I’m guessing because of the steel beams they had to close off part of the street to crane it up there.
That’s a good guess, judging from this photo posted on the bar’s Facebook page on Sunday:
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COMMENT OF THE DAY: BUT A SPOONFUL OF SUGAR WILL HELP THE HISTORY GO DOWN “If you won’t drink coffee at the former Mary’s building, then you probably don’t want to know what went on at The Empire Cafe, when it was known as The Locker.” [Darogr, commenting on Restored Mary’s Mural on Westheimer Painted Over Again]
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
After a couple years of threats, live-music straggler Walter’s on Washington finally closed its doors at 1425 Washington Ave. this summer. Almost exactly 6 months later, it’ll open for a Christmas show in a new location: This former classic-car showroom, video-production studio, car-parts distribution center, and cabinet shop at 1120 Naylor St. just north of Downtown, behind DiverseWorks and the UH-Downtown parking garage. Owner Pam Robinson had hoped to open the 190-person-capacity venue much earlier. She told the Houston Press‘s Chris Gray in June that she had run into problems meeting city parking requirements for the location.
Next month, real estate brokers Randy Fertitta and John Nguyen plan to reopen the former Zula Restaurant spot at 705B Main St. Downtown as a 250-600-seat concert venue. The Capitol at St. Germain will include a bar, a restaurant, and jazz, R&B, and “old-school” country performers. Coming to the Main St. streetfront at Capitol St. (next door to the Flying Saucer): a sidewalk cafe and a new neon marquee, subsidized in part by a $20,000 grant from the Downtown Management District. The 8,400-sq.-ft. space will include an elevated reserved seating area called the Vintage Lounge and a “floating” VIP booth next to the 320-sq.-ft. stage.
Photo: Capitol at St. Germain