02/22/17 5:30pm

BRAD MOORE AND FRIENDS SNATCH EMPTY BODY OF INVASION ICE HOUSE Invasion Ice House, 823 Dumble St., Eastwood, Houston, 77023 Formerly apostrophe-averse Grand Prize co-owner Brad Moore and his business partners have a new bar now up and running in the work-out-the-kinks, wait-for-the-liquor-license phase. The business, operating under the syllable-rich name Lil’ Danny Speedo’s Go Fly a Kite Lounge, has taken over the space in the 1950s building at 823 Dumble St. (shown here as seen early last year in its then-new alien mural skin). Danny Speedo’s is the latest link in a long chain of bars on the property — most recently including Invasion Ice House, which the Ramos family opened last spring before shutting it down at the end of October. Phaedra Cook reports that Lil’ Danny Speedos is limiting the alcohol menu to beer, wine, and frozen shandies until the liquor permit comes through. [Houston Foodfinder; previously on Swamplot] Photo of former Invasion Ice House at 823 Dumble St.: Swamplot inbox

02/16/17 3:00pm

Saint Arnold Brewing Company Expansion renderings, 2104 Lyons Ave., Near Northside, Houston, 77020Saint Arnold Brewing Company Expansion renderings, 2104 Lyons Ave., Near Northside, Houston, 77020

A fresh batch of renderings from the Office of James Burnett have been filed with the city planning commission this month as part of Saint Arnold Brewing Company’s request for a setback variance for that previously mentioned beer garden next door. Early permits have been trickling in since last fall for the ex-tow lot at 2104 Lyons Ave., across Semmes St. from the brewery’s new-ish downtown headquarters in the former HISD Food Service building (even more formerly the home of the Bemis Bag Company).

The new designs show what might be the site’s intended layout, including a restaurant structure which dissolves into an outdoor patio and garden space, a set of bocce courts, and more parking, including an area set aside for display of art cars (as shown up top featuring the company’s own tie-dye vehicles). Here’s the full tentative layout:

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Gardens of Fifth Ward
01/18/17 2:30pm

Spire Houston in former First Church of Christ, Scientist, 1720 Main St., Downtown, Houston, TX 77002First Church of Christ, Scientist, 1720 Main St., Downtown, Houston, TX 77002

Spire Houston in former First Church of Christ, Scientist, 1720 Main St., Downtown, Houston, TX 77002Steeple-themed nightclub and Swampies also-ran Spire is now up and running in Downtown’s converted First Church of Christ, Scientist at 1720 Main St., following last winter’s covert purchase by the group running Clé bar. The remodeled Mod space officially opened last weekend and is currently advertising upcoming events on a marquee along Jefferson St., including a Playboy-sponsored pre-Super Bowl party (scheduled against the Taylor Swift concert at temporary 3-story nightclub Club Nomadic, among other goings-on).  Other upcoming Spire events include this weekend’s Waka Flocka Flame concert and the VS vs Fredericks Lingerie Contest scheduled for next Wednesday.

Some promotional photos from the club provide a few views of the former altar (above, with a view of the original for comparison), as well as the added balconies and new seating arrangement possibilities in the main sanctuary:

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Downtown Conversions
01/17/17 10:45am

Hamburger Mary's Houston ad

The latest ad for the in-the-works Houston franchise of restaurant and periodic drag venue Hamburger Mary’s includes a collection of cartoonified downtown landmarks (among them Pennzoil Place and Bank of America Center), with an Astrodome tacked onto one side of the abbreviated skyline for good measure. As to where exactly the restaurant and bar is settling in — what with the old Mary’s spot already taken, and all — permits have been issued for the Converse St. end of the strip center at 2409 Grant St., a block east of Montrose Blvd. That’s where not-safe-for-work clothing and accessories shop Hollywood Super Center previously operated, before moving next door into the former Hollywood Investments & Realty space):
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Marys of Avondale
12/12/16 1:00pm

HTX Sports Creek, 2619 Polk St., East Downtown, Houston, 77003

A 3-block jaunt from the proposed site of the recently reincarnated Ivy Lofts development will land you at 2619 Polk St., where do-it-yourself sports bar Sports Creek is setting up. The developers look to be planting a series of sand volleyball courts and blue-turfed soccer fields on the long-paved-over block bounded by Polk, Live Oak, Nagle, and Dallas streets (catty-corner from the former Kings warehouse building slated for a wholesale-to-retail makeover).

One of the involved developers recently told Maggie Gordon that the new place should open in January, and that there will be 3 volleyball courts; the above rendering shows the latest published update to the bar’s planned layout of the space (though it appears to show 4 courts instead). It’s also not totally clear which side of the development that drawing is meant to show, as none of the site’s depicted neighbors appear to quite match up with the array of townhomes, warehouses, and electrical substation that ring the block.

Older renderings released earlier this year showed the business with only 1 and 2 fields and courts respectively, on a much skinnier piece of land:

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Courting Polk St.
12/05/16 5:00pm

Merchant, 1707 Post Oak Blvd., Uptown, Houston, 77056

The back-alley Post Oak strip center corner previously occupied by a franchise of not-quite-ice-cream purveyor Tasti D-Lite appears now to be operating under the banner of New Orleans-based Merchant Cafe, whose signature noun list was spotted over the weekend by a reader in the shopping center. The new cafe is catty-corner to Berryhill Baja Grill, and flanked by Five Guys Burgers and Fries and The UPS Store. The city planning department  started issuing permits for a remodel of the space by September of last year, though some appear to have been given the OK as recently as October. 

The vicinity’s softserve niche is currently filled by a branch of pay-by-the-pile California frozen yogurt shop Pinkberry, facing San Felipe right across Post Oak Blvd. Tasti D-Lite, meanwhile, appears to have largely pulled out of Houston altogether over the last few years, with a lone holdout franchise remaining in Katy.

Photo: jatorres

NY to NOLA
11/29/16 1:45pm

7710 Long Point Rd., Spring Branch, Houston, 77055

7710 Long Point Rd., Spring Branch, Houston, 77055The new lessees of 7710 Long Point Rd. — formerly home to all-Mex-no-Tex Otilia’s Mexican Restaurantannounced last week that they’ll be filling the spot with a craft beer bar and restaurant called The Branch. The folks in charge appear to be former Hay Merchant-slash-Underbelly catering head Madeline Cabezut, current Hay Merchant bar manager Kyle Pierson (though Hay Merchant itself is not involved in the project), and former Miller/Coors spokesmodel Amanda Mixon. An entity linked to serial redeveloper Braun Enterprises bought the place last year, after Otilia’s 2014 for-real-this-time shutdown. The trio formally leased the space around the end of September, and plan to have the place open early next year.

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Branching Out to Long Point Rd.
11/22/16 1:45pm

301 Main St., Downtown, Houston, 77002

301 Main St., Downtown, Houston, 77002The outdoor garden and patio space at 301 Main St. is being tended this week as Salt N Pepper group’s taco restaurant and bar Dizzy Kaktus finishes setting up near the Preston light-rail stop. City historical records say the Victorian structure was built in 1889, after which the Sweeney & Coombs jewelry company jumped across the street from the building currently footed by The Pastry War; the ground floor space of the structure went up for lease after Nit Noi closed last year, and signage noting the restaurant’s liquor license application was posted in October.

The reader who snapped the shots above and below says a worker on the site mentioned an opening next week, and that while the interior layout was still a bit jumbled, the outside appeared to be shaping up:

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Historic District Taco Bar
11/21/16 1:00pm

Brewery Tap, 717 Franklin St., Downtown, Houston, 77002

Brewery Tap, 717 Franklin St., Downtown, Houston, 77002Ghost-story hub and beer bar Brewery Tap reopened this weekend, after about nearly 11 months of remodeling in the wake of a January ownership swap. The bar is located in the building at 717 Franklin St., preivously part of Houston Ice & Brewing Co.’s Magnolia Brewery complex on the edge of Buffalo Bayou. Down the slope beneath the Franklin St. bridge is the mid-1800’s crypt previously occupied by the remains of 3 members of the Donnellan family; the early Houston settler and his wife and son were moved west to Glenwood Cemetery around 1903, after which the crypt was incorporated into the structure of the Franklin St. bridge:

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Digging Up Downtown History
11/04/16 5:15pm

100 Main St. north of Franklin St., Downtown, Houston, 77002

A reader sends a few shots from the corner of Main and Franklin streets, where the family that owns La Colombe D’Or is now turning the 1890’s-or-so buildings at 104, 108, 110, and 114 Main into co-working space. The ground floor of the block (occupied in large part by the Bayou Lofts building) has seen some tenant movement too in the last few years; signage for bars Gossip Ultralounge, Barringer Lounge, and recently-opened Lilly & Bloom can all be spotted hanging out while exterior work is underway.

As for the Franklin side of the block: Next to watch-shop-turned-whiskey-bar Houston Watch Company, The Brit will be moving into what was once PI lounge at 911 Franklin; a bit further west, past newly-opened La Calle Tacos & Tortas, the space formerly holding that beer incubator that closed after a naked Twister incident is being prepped for bottle shop Craft Beer Cellar:

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Main St. Move-Ins
10/27/16 11:00am

210 Glen Park St., Near Northside, Houston, 77009

A few twists and turns up Little White Oak Bayou from N. Main St. and the White Oak Music Hall complex, work is underway on a bayou-side brewery on another piece of land owned by W2 development (and going by the name Black Page Brewing Co.) The city issued a few more permits for the brewpub this week (fast on the heels of the permit issued Tuesday for the music venue’s permanent outdoor stage — a few days after construction allegedly got rolling, though not quite in time for tonight’s planned outdoor The Head and The Heart concert). Owner Anthony Heins tells Swamplot the pub is just leasing the land from W2, which country records show bought the property in April of last year. And builder KUEHN Inc. has been snapping photos of progress at the former warehouse, which sits near the stretch of waterway where an area resident took those videos of chainsaw aftermath back in May; that area is down beyond the orange fencing below on the left:

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Near Northside Neighbors
10/19/16 11:00am

3111 Chimney Rock, Lamar Terrace, Houston, 77056

The graffiti on the tall face of the former Big Woodrow’s spot at 3111 Chimney Rock Rd. has been joined lately by new signage for Rotana Mediterranean Restaurant. The 2-story 2-bar space north of Richmond Ave. shut down near the end of August last year after a planned temporary closure for building repairs turned into an unplanned permanent landlord dispute, and the building went up for lease around the same time. Some of those repairs to the 5,928-sq.-ft. space may have been getting done over the past year since the closure, if building permits issued in March and at the start of this month are any indication.

Photo: MiraDry team at Mosaic Clinic Dermatology

Rotana Remodeling off Richmond Ave.
10/18/16 11:00am

Worcester's Annex site, 1433 N. Shepherd Dr., Houston Heights, 77008

The Kirby Group folks (behind Midtown beer and cocktail bar Wooster’s Garden and those since-demolished converted funeral home bars in Upper Kirby) look to be setting up for their Worcester’s Annex cocktail project south of N. Shepherd and 15th St.  The new bar (which is taking off the linguistic gloves and using the full-on British spelling of the name) is being built on the far southern end of the former Longhorn Motor Company lot at 1433 N. Shepherd, previously tapped as the intended site of the Heights Bier Garten; Greg Morago reported this summer that the 2 developments would be near one another. The bar is going up across the street from legally-tangled tortilla factory La Espiga De Oro (which was infiltrated and raided by ICE officers last year, after which the company’s owners were indicted for allegedly hiring undocumented immigrants).

Photo: Worcester’s Annex

Seeding the Heights
09/20/16 11:00am

13200 and 13302 FM 359, Hempstead, TX, 7744513200 and 13302 FM 359, Hempstead, TX, 77445

Up for grabs just down the road from the Monaville General Store: family-friendly biker bar and pool hall The Thirsty Parrot Bar & Grill. A PR rep tells Swamplot that the owners are retiring from running the Waller County restaurant, which has been open since 2006. Concurrent listings on LoopNet and HAR (at 13200 and 13302 FM 359, respectively) are both running with a $1.6-million asking price, which includes the 14-ish-acre swath of land that the bar sits on, all kitchen equipment, and all of the other buildings on the property: that’s a 3-bedroom ranch house, a second guest house, a pavilion, a barn, and a stocked fishing pond, plus a few other hangers-on. Here’s a quick tour around the place, including a stop by the live parrot collection:

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Hempstead Restaurateurs Flying the Coop