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
09/15/16 10:30am

Tin Hall Dancehall, 14800 Tin Hall Rd, Cypress, 77429

Tin Hall (the building itself, anyway) is now back in the hands of pre-2014 owner Fred Stockton, report Shawn Arrajj and Emily Donaldson. The Tin Hall property was bought by Mark Martinez in 2014, who sold the land to MHI McGuyer Homebuilders later that year; Martinez was allowed time after the Hall’s closing to relocate the structure, and made plans to move it down to a spot off Spring Cypress Rd. just east of Dry Creek — a process slowed down by issues with finding water for the venue and its planned nextdoor retail development.

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09/14/16 10:45am

8275 Beechnut St., Sharpstown, Houston, 77036

The 1980’s kiosk formerly used to run MJ Motorcars out of the expansive parking lot of the Southwest Plaza Shopping Center, a reader notes, is now being turned into a drive-thru daiquiri shop. Houston has been slowly picking up on the tape-over-the-strawhole skirting of open container laws over the last few years; the new Prime Daiquiri location in front of 8150 Beechnut St. will provide an alternative for those with no time to hit up Club Tequila in one the retail center’s anchor spots (between noodle shop Tau Bay, the freshly opened Planet Fitness branch, and Harbor Freight Tools).

site plan included in Investar Real Estate Services’s leasing flier for the property shows the to-go bar in place in the kiosk, as well as a few new pad sites drawn into place near by:
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Prime Daiquiri Location in Sharpstown
09/09/16 1:00pm

Cafeza at 1720 Houston Ave., First Ward, Houston, 77007

As of tomorrow morning, any missed-the-memo visitors to the former Blank Slate Laser Tattoo Removal space at 1720 Houston Ave. will at least have the option to drink to forget (assuming that’s not what got them into trouble in the first place). Spanish-Latin-American-themed cafe Cafeza will open to the public around 6 a.m. with coffee, food, and wine on the menu. The shop is tucked into northern storefront of the 1925 building at the corner with Crockett St., with Belgium-minded companion Cafe Brussels occupying the adjacent space next door. The view above is from the Crockett side, where the scribbles-welcome Grateful Heart chalkboard hangs out these days:

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European Influences on Houston Ave
09/07/16 11:00am

Wabash Feed and Garden Store, 5701 Washington Ave., Houston, 77007

Wabash Feed and Garden Store, 5701 Washington Ave., Houston, 77007

A sign of possible second chances for anyone looking to make a play for the former Wabash Feed & Garden Store building at 5701 Washington Ave: the leasing notice now up out front, shown here as spotted by a reader yesterday. Onion Creek owner Gary Mosley bought the land early this year and announced plans to turn the building into a restaurant and bar called Driftwood once the garden store headed out to its new spot. At that time, the moveout was planned for June; Wabash owner Betty Heacker tells Landan Kuhlman this month that the new location in the former Mechanical Plumbing, Inc. warehouse at 4537 N. Shepherd should finally be ready to go by late October.

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Options on Wash Ave
08/22/16 1:30pm

Buffalo Fred's Ice House, 2708 N. Shepherd Dr., Houston Heights, Houston, 77008

Buffalo Fred's Ice House, 2708 N. Shepherd Dr., Houston Heights, Houston, 77008After a month or so on the market at $3.75 million, the asking price on Buffalo Fred’s Ice House has dropped by half a million as of early last week. The 37,500 sq.ft. property, positioned right across the northern boundary of the potentially moistening Heights dry zone at 2708 N. Shepherd Dr., sits a few blocks north of the ongoing culinary redevelopment zone near the recent Fiesta Mart breakup. The HAR sales listing notes that leasing the space is an option (and a matching LoopNet leasing listing has been added for the property in the last few weeks).

The listing claims the early-1980s ice house is now running on a month-to-month lease; the bar building is up for grabs along with the 2,100-sq.-ft. building formerly occupied by Speedy Cycle Lube (on the right hand side, both above and below):

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Room to Roam in Houston Heights