ST. AGNES PICKS UP DROPPED SUIT The lawsuit the Academy of St. Agnes filed and then dropped last month against the city, the TABC, and the owners of a nightclub planning to open in the former Finger Furniture space at PlazAmericas is back on again, Purva Patel reports. The suit is an attempt to prevent the planned club, El Corral, from receiving a liquor license. A year ago, the private girls school bought the 18.7-acre former Gillman auto dealership at the corner of Bellaire Blvd. and Fondren, across the street from the former Sharpstown Mall, with plans to turn the property into an athletic campus. [Prime Property; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Candace Garcia
ST. AGNES DROPS SUIT St. Agnes Academy has officially ended its lawsuit meant to prevent a nightclub called El Corral — planned for the former Finger Furniture store in PlazAmericas — from receiving a liquor license. The suit was filed last Friday against the nightclub’s owners, the city of Houston, and the TABC. A spokesperson for the all-girls private school, which is building an athletic facility across Bellaire Blvd. from the former Sharpstown Mall, tells Swamplot “any future plans regarding the suit are to be determined,” but offered no further comments. [Previously on Swamplot]
St. Agnes Academy has already begun constructing an athletic complex on the site of the former Gillman Auto dealership at the corner of Bellaire and Fondren in Sharpstown. The 18.7-acre property, which it bought last fall, will have 3 athletic fields, 2 softball diamonds, 8 tennis courts, plus weight rooms, conference rooms, and meeting rooms. But administrators of the all-girls private school aren’t too happy with a development planned across the street in PlazAmericas, the former Sharpstown Mall. Last Friday, the school filed suit to prevent a nightclub from opening in the mall’s former Finger Furniture store.
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Whatever steak and ale was left in this building at 2425 Mangum Rd. has been taken off . . . very slowly. Only to be brought back in a new form: A reader who’s noted some heavy construction — including the covering-up of windows — at this former restaurant on the southwest side of 290 over the last month and a half says the new occupants appeared to have applied for a liquor license under the name “Mangum Steakhouse.” Actual name of the new joint: Sunset Strip, a “totally latex free” club where you’ll find “the hottest entertainers in H-Town” — once they’re hired, of course. Scheduled opening date: August 3rd. Any resemblance between Highway 290 and the actual Sunset Strip, of course, is courtesy of the ghost of Anna Nicole Smith, and the Pleasures she left behind on the other side of the freeway at 34th St.
The almost here, the already here, and the soon-to-be-departed:
- Opening Soon: City inspection issues having been conquered, Hubcap Grill‘s new Heights-ish outpost in Shady Acres is now aiming for an opening “mid/late” next week, tweets burger-slinger Ricky Craig. The converted drive-up at 1133 W. 19th St. is just around the corner from Cedar Creek. Plenty more patio seating in back.
- Already Open: So sorry you missed the christenings, but the nightclub, restaurant-bar, and wading pool carved out of the former Settegast Kopf funeral home at 3320 Kirby, have been open and holding events for a week or 2 already. That place wearing its paneling on the outside is Hendricks Pub and Eatery. Roak is the nightclub; the atrium pool has its own name: Rush. The bars and their neighbors in the David Crockett subdivision immediately to the west will have plenty of time to become acquainted with each other before their court date next May. Some local residents have filed suit against the bars’ owners, claiming the clubs are in violation of local deed restrictions:
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The owners of Pub Fiction and Shot Bar in Midtown plan to make over the former Shady Grocery at the corner of Bevis and 23rd St. in Shady Acres into Crisp Wine Bar and Eatery, which will also feature craft beers on tap, an “Italian-influenced” menu (including pizza and deli-style hoagies), a retail wine shop, and a separate entrance for customers who just want to order takeout. Also: a patio next to the kitchen’s new herb-and-vegetable garden that’ll be carved out of the asphalt. Guy-in-charge Al Scavelli tells Swamplot many of the details are still being worked out, but he hopes to open the place at 2220 Bevis up by next January.
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Several readers have written in to report on the apparent demise of the Octane Coffee and Wine Lounge at the corner of 34th St. and North Shepherd. “As of Sunday,” says one correspondent, “the place was shut with a computer-generated ‘Sorry We’re Closed’ sign taped to the door, and a Pink’s employee next door said the owners had been carrying stuff out all day.” The morning and night spot opened almost exactly a year ago, one of the first tenants in the renovated but still-modern Garden Oaks strip center.
Photo: Candace Garcia
THE TOP-SECRET DOWNTOWN LOCATION OF HOUSTON’S NEW FREETAIL BREWPUB The Freetail Brewing Co.’s second-ever brewpub will go into 20,000 sq. ft. of “a historic building in downtown Houston,” the company announced today. What’s the address? “Out of respect to the developer, the exact location cannot be named at this time,” reads the press release. Respect! Oh, yeah, and a few details are still to be worked out, including some financing that’ll need to be complete within 90 days. The $4.2 million facility will span 3 floors of the mystery building and include a company store, plus restaurant and bar space. It appears the Houstonification of the San Antonio company has already begun: “Unlike Freetail’s original location, which is primarily one big room with a patio overlooking the Texas hill country, Freetail Houston will feature traditional restaurant seating, private dining space, and a “game room” with pool tables, shuffleboard, darts and numerous televisions.” We’re guessing that downtown building isn’t on a pad site by the freeway, though. [Beer, TX]
A MIDTOWN BEER BAR IS BORN Who’s the mama? “A craft beer bar will be coming to Midtown in roughly the same time it takes to conceive and gestate a baby. Except this baby’s father is one of the most esteemed bar owners in town. And the baby will have a diet primarily composed of small-batch craft beers. It’ll be taking up residence next to another beloved bar, right along the light rail, making this small section of Midtown suddenly infinitely more intriguing.” [Eating Our Words]
Last Friday, a former St. Anne’s Catholic School P.E. teacher named Jonathan Barnes pled guilty to 4 counts of federal charges in connection with a multimillion-dollar oil-trading kickback scheme. What does the Bellaire resident have to do with the 360 Sports Lounge on Washington Ave? The plea agreement he signed last week spells it out: His investment in the bar was a kickback itself, one of many gifts given to him by his 2 alleged co-conspirators, to thank him for overcharging his employer, Houston Refining (now a part of LyondellBasell) by as much as $82 million for shipping contracts he arranged with their companies.
Why might Barnes have figured that a new Washington Ave sports bar would be a good investment? Well, his stint at Enron in the early 1990s had given him a solid business background.
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COMMENT OF THE DAY: UNLESS, OF COURSE, THEY SHOW URBAN COWBOY EVERY NIGHT AT MIDNIGHT “In regard to Sundance Cinemas, that’s potentially great news, but honestly, I wonder if it won’t succumb to the same fate as its predecessor. Even if it manages to reel in the handful of film buffs gasping for air in this sprawling sea of easily titillated Transformers, it still has to deal with being in a somewhat awkward spot. I just don’t see the independent film crowd planning a night of avant-garde cinema and theme bar hopping. Yee-haw, Thaddeus! Ride that bull.” [kilray, commenting on Report: Sundance Cinemas Replacing Angelika Film Center at Bayou Place; Bar Smorgasbord Moving in Upstairs]
The city of Houston and the Cordish Company are “deep into negotiations” with Sundance Cinemas to take over the former Angelika Theater spot at Bayou Place, Steven Thomson reports. Robert Redford’s Sundance Group has operated 2 Sundance Cinemas since 2007 — an 8-screen complex in San Francisco and a 6-screen multiplex in Madison, Wisconsin. If Sundance does end up taking over the vacant Angelika space at 510 Texas St. and maintains all existing screens, it would tie with the Sundance Kabuki Cinema near Pacific Heights as the largest complex in the small chain. The company appears to have scaled back the aggressive expansion plans it announced 4 years ago, which included new theaters in Chicago and Denver. The Angelika Film Center closed suddenly last summer.
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WHAT IT TAKES TO GET INTO THE VINTAGE LOUNGE This week’s Houston Press exposé on velvet-rope racism includes several first-hand accounts of actual sightings of minorities inside the Rice Village’s Hudson Lounge — and this sweet little nugget of nightclub strategery from Amir Ansari, owner of the Vintage Lounge at 2108 Kipling (across the street from Petsmart): “‘A bar is like a prison, and we have to keep our population in check,‘ [Ansari] says. ‘We are outnumbered 100 to one — we have to prescreen. I’m not letting eight random guys come in in a group. They will usually start fights or bother the girls, which makes matters even worse.’ . . . Ansari has structured the dress code at Vintage to encourage long-term business, or so he hopes. Patrons sporting designer labels such as Dolce & Gabbana or Armani will move on to the next trendy bar soon enough, while more casually clad customers in button-up shirts and khakis are more loyal, he says. Beyond that, ‘We don’t allow graphic printed shirts. No Affliction stuff — nothing you would see on Jersey Shore,’ Ansari adds. ‘No baggy hip-hop stuff, but even that style is dying off.’” [Houston Press; previously on Swamplot]
COMMENT OF THE DAY: HOW KIDS CAN HELP MAKE WAY FOR MORE ALCOHOL SALES IN AND AROUND THE HEIGHTS “If HISD closes Hogg [Middle School] (it’s been identified as one of 66 struggling schools), that may open up some of the Studewood/ 11th area for liquor sales. How far do you need to be from a church to get an alcohol permit?” [Holster, commenting on The Rush to White Oak: Is the Corkscrew Next?]
Update, 12/22: Late Nite Pie has reopened!
It looks like there’s been another shut-down at Late Nite Pie in Midtown. As first noted by the Houston Press late yesterday, the entrance to the pizza joint has been boarded up, with a stern-sounding note warning off trespassers and indicating the locks have been changed. The person listed as a contact on the note (presumably from the property’s landlord) would not comment on the situation. It may be a bit early to count Late Night out, though: Bell’s restaurant was able to start up again after a similar shuttering last year. The restaurant moved to its current location at 302 Tuam (on the corner of Baldwin) in 2008.
Photo: Aaron Carpenter