01/22/19 11:30am

Those dark green awnings and the sign shown below are now the only exterior traces of Barnes & Noble’s multi-decade presence in the east-facing building in the Westheimer Crossing shopping center just west of Voss Rd. It’s the only business ever to inhabit the 38,700-sq.-ft. standalone structure since it went up along with the rest of the retail complex in the mid-90s.

Unlike the rest of the shopping center — now home to Academy Sports + Outdoors, Michaels, REI, Designer Shoe Warehouse, Petco, Thai Spice and a smattering of roadside fast food and retail buildings — the former bookstore is owned separately by National Retail Properties, a real estate investment trust that puts money into shopping centers across the U.S.

Photos: Rex Solomon

08/16/18 3:00pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: BRIARMEADOW’S DOGGY DAYCARE DOGPILE “Anyone else notice this area of town is getting rather saturated in doggy day cares? There’s one at Richmond on the other side of Fountainview, one on the north side of 59 just before Fountainview, one on Westheimer just west of Briarhurst . . . and those are just the ones that come immediately to mind.” [cricketty, commenting on Former Richmond Ave Furniture Royalty Will Now Provide Lodging for Animals] Map showing existing dog daycares in red, proposed in blue: Swamplox inbox

08/16/18 10:00am

A vast pet boarding facility is now taking over the Winport Furniture building at 6393 Richmond — which stretches back south nearly the entire block along Unity Dr., pictured above. After sitting on the place for 6 months, the pet resort operator that bought it filed a building permit yesterday indicating it’s about to rejigger the former 19,497-sq.-ft. showroom with the help of Slattery Tackett Architects.

Before shifting its focus to office furniture in 2016, the building dealt in home items and called itself The Chair King:


Gone to the Dogs
01/22/18 11:15am

A note taped to the window of Chinese Cafe announces that the restaurant at 5888 Richmond has shuttered. The counter-service spot took over its location between Chimney Rock and Fountain View from a McDonald’s after moving out of the shopping center 2 blocks east on the corner of Richmond and Sage Rd. in 2014. HS Green has since cropped up in the restaurant’s old shopping center storefront.

The photo at top looks east to show Chinese Cafe’s signage still shining beneath a starless sky last Friday, although the inside of the restaurant appears to have gone dark. The 3,756-sq.-ft. building sits between Taco Bell and the Houston Camera Exchange.

Photos: Rex Solomon

01/19/18 4:30pm

Something new is on the table for the building at the corner of Westheimer and Stoney Brook Dr.: Prime Social, a card and board game venue with an onsite restaurant. The not yet full house is advertising chess, backgammon, cribbage, and a number of poker variants — with 2 daily tournaments (up to “$5,000 GUARANTEED”). Also, “professional armed security” will be present on the premises, according to the house website, in case anything gets out of hand.

Churrasca Brazilian Steakhouse closed down in the 11,448-sq.-ft. building, pictured above, last year. The restaurant took over from sushi joint and nightclub Fish & the Knife, which shuttered in its newly-built space at 7801 Westheimer in 2014, 9 months after opening.

Raising the Stakes
04/28/17 9:30am

6529 Beverly Hill St., Woodlake/Briarmeadow, Houston, 77057

The recently remonikered Margaret Long Wisdom High School is prepping for its scheduled student body transplant as the school year winds down. The shot above shows the main entrance of the school’s almost-ready new building, tucked behind the old one along Hillcroft Ave. south of Beverly Hills St. That older structure, which cut its Confederate ties about a year ago, should be getting erased altogether starting in June, a reader involved with the project tells Swamplot.

Here’s the flip side view of the glassy main entrance above, which should be unlocked in time for fall classes:


Creeping South on Hillcroft
06/14/16 12:45pm

8820 Westheimer Rd., Briarmeadow, Houston, 77063

The 4-story apartment complex going up on the northeast corner of Westheimer and Fondren roads (where Prosperity Bank and Landry’s Seafood Restaurant were torn down in a mildly apocalyptic display back in 2014) is now pushing leases and offering would-be tenants a chance to scope the place out. The place has also gotten a name tweak since the project was first announced: the former Crest at Fondren is going by West & Fondren these days.

The complex has sprung up just south of the late-seventies garden-style Victoria Place apartments (which appear to have been bought 2 summers ago by an entity controlled by developer Michael Novelli). The Fondren-side entrance of the 4-story building is clearly labeled as such:


Briargrove Revival
12/18/15 12:30pm

Construction of Lee Highschool Rebuild, 6529 Beverly Hill St., Woodlake/Briar Meadow, Houston, 77057

Currently rising behind Lee Senior High School: Lee Senior High School. The new building is going up on the south side of the block east of Hillcroft between Beverly Hill St. and Skyline Dr., 1 block south of Richmond Ave. The first foundation slab was poured last Friday, and steel has been going up this week— pictured above are the servery, kitchen, and utility areas, according to the Twitter narration of Brent Oldbury. (The distant Williams Tower can be seen peeking through the steel on the right.)

A north-facing entrance is planned, allowing the school to hold on to the current Beverly Hill St. address despite shifting to the Skyline side of the block. The old building (behind the steel to the left, in the photo above) will watch its younger, prettier replacement going up next door until demolition in early 2017 makes way for sports facilities and parking.

A few renderings were presented at an October 2014 community meeting about the new building’s construction and timeline:


Second Secondary on Hillcroft
07/06/15 5:00pm

Churrasca Brazilian Steakhouse, 7801 Westheimer Rd., Houston

New signage is up already at the former home of the Fish & the Knife restaurant at 7801 Westheimer. The 13,000-sq.-ft. sushi nightclub at the corner of Stoney Brook opened last February after 4 years of preparation, then closed after only 9 months of operations — with promises of a reopening after a “rebranding.” But it appears that a restaurant touting itself as “Lubbock’s Finest Dining Experience” is now preparing to open a Houston branch in the space instead. “The restaurant is already hiring a full retinue of staff,” notes Houstonia‘s Katharine Shillcut of the new Churrasca Brazilian Steakhouse, “but construction and cleaning appears to be underway and could take a while.


Churrasca Brazilian Steakhouse
11/25/14 4:00pm



Tweaks to a 1977 Briarmeadow home have left it looking rather peachy inside, thanks to a dream-state color wash. The heavy-roofed French-ish property last sold in 2013, for $291,040, and has appeared in an assortment of listings and relistings ever since. Updated in that interim, the westward-facing home is now  attempting a flip at $409,000. Previous listings sought a high of $489K in July 2013, with reductions to $459K in September 2013, $449K in April 2014 (which snagged a contract but not a closing), and $429K in July 2014 — before taking a breather from the market in August. Renovations picked the bones clean and added new ingredients . . .


11/24/14 1:45pm

SAYONARA FOR FISH & THE KNIFE? Fish and the Knife Restaurant, Sushi Bar, Nightclub, and Lounge, 7801 Westheimer Rd., HoustonEater Houston’s Jakeisha Wilmore is reporting that Fish & the Knife will close at the end of this month. Wilmore is basing her report on an interview with a Yelp reviewer who said that management at the Briarmeadow sushi house canceled her upcoming holiday event and told her that the restaurant was about to shut down. Wilmore could not reach management for confirmation, but should this really be the end for the 9-month-old restaurant, it would prove an abrupt final act to a bizarre and dramatic saga. The not-designed-by-Tony-Chi restaurant finally opened this February after a roller-coaster ride of a buildout that dragged on for 3 years. Wilmore’s Yelp source told her that the Fish & the Knife’s manager told her “financial challenges” were the cause of the possibly imminent shuttering. The restaurant’s demise might not be lamented in all quarters: On weekends Fish & the Knife transformed into a nightclub, and residents of nearby neighborhoods had become disgruntled with partiers parking along their streets and leaving trash behind. Update, 2:15 pm: Fish & the Knife management tells CultureMap’s Eric Sandler that the restaurant’s closing will be temporary and that the Fish & the Knife will reopen after a rebranding, while the weekend nightclub activities would continue in the meantime. Sandler also reports that opening chef, former Iron Chef America contestant Bob Iacovone, has returned to his hometown of New Orleans. [Eater Houston; Click2Houston; CultureMap; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Swamplot inbox

03/18/14 11:30am

Fish and the Knife Sushi Bar, Restaurant, and Nightclub, 7801 Westheimer Rd. at Stoney Brook, Houston

Fish and the Knife Restaurant, Sushi Bar, Nightclub, and Lounge, 7801 Westheimer Rd., HoustonAn attorney representing international hotel and restaurant designer Tony Chi has sent a cease-and-desist letter to the owners of the Fish and the Knife, complaining that the recently opened Houston sushi restaurant and nightclub has “repeatedly and intentionally” claimed that Chi was responsible for the restaurant’s design. “As you most certainly know,” the letter reads, “Tony Chi had no role whatsoever in connection with the Fish & The Knife and most certainly is not answerable for its operation, particularly its delayed opening.”

A Facebook post published by the restaurant shortly before its February 13th opening claimed that Tony Chi had designed the interior — and implied that his involvement bore some responsibility for the restaurant’s notably delayed debut: “The owner commissioned Tony Chi, famed architect and interior designer, to fit the restaurant into his relentless schedule,” reads the post (which may also have been issued as a press release) in a sentence that directly follows a reference to repeated postponements of the restaurant’s opening. It then goes on to name-drop several of Chi’s former clients: “Based in New York City, Chi owns and operates a global design powerhouse that has an unrivalled reputation in the hospitality industry. Some of Chi’s designs include restaurants for Wolfgang Puck, Alain Ducasse and Michael Mina. In addition to restaurants, he designed many Ritz-Carlton, Park Hyatt, Intercontinental and Mandarin Oriental hotels around the world.” But Chi’s designs do not appear to include Fish and the Knife.


Credit Where It Isn’t Due
02/13/14 10:30am

Fish and the Knife Sushi Bar, Restaurant, and Nightclub, 7801 Westheimer Rd. at Stoney Brook, Houston

Note: Story updated below.

O ye of little faith, casting doubts here and there that a little 13,000-sq.-ft. standalone fine dining and lounging experience on Westheimer across Stoney Brook from AutoZone would ever open its doors after a mere 3 years of construction, a few long silences, and working so hard behind the scenes to get every detail right! It takes time, and actual anticipation, to truly earn the status of Houston’s Most Anticipated Restaurant. So take this: Fish and the Knife opens today. As in: You can park your car in the big parking lot out back, walk right in through the big wooden doors, and order yourself some sushi and a Japanese-style steak. And maybe this weekend, or some other big weekend night soon, wiggle your tail and fins to the rhythms and the flashing lights in the transformed 4,000-sq.-ft. “Las Vegas-style” nightclub inside.

Okay, but really, what took this place so long to open? Here’s the owner of the new spot at 7801 Westheimer, trying valiantly to explain it all:


A Good Restaurant Took Time
01/30/14 12:00pm

Fish and the Knife Sushi Bar, Restaurant, and Nightclub, 7801 Westheimer Rd. at Stoney Brook, Houston

Fish and the Knife Sushi Bar, Restaurant, and Nightclub, 7801 Westheimer Rd. at Stoney Brook, HoustonOn-again off-again would-be Westheimer sushi-nightclub debutante Fish and the Knife has given up on target opening dates, reports Eater Houston. “The big debut is back on track,” reports Darla Guillen in a post that includes actual photos of the actual completed interior at 7801 Westheimer. After almost 3-and-a-half years of construction and several blown promised-opening deadlines, she writes, “the owner is (understandably) reluctant to announce an official date.” But, um, the restaurant is “definitely on schedule to open soon, and is currently hiring staff.”

Update, 3 pm: A daring update to Eater’s report notes the owner now “expects to be open by Feb. 10.

Photo: Swamplot inbox

Sooner or Later
01/03/14 2:15pm

IS FISH AND THE KNIFE CUTTING BAIT? Fish and the Knife, 7801 Westheimer Rd., Briarmeadow, HoustonRestaurant review website b4-u-Eat appears to have given up all hope of sushi bar, nightclub, and restaurant Fish and the Knife ever opening. That’s kind of a big deal for a project that’s been under construction since 2010. The huge modern building at the corner of Westheimer and Stoney Brook Dr. (just west of Voss) appears to be complete, but all communication has suddenly gone dark. “They expected to open Oct, Nov, Dec 2013,” reports the site newsletter, “but didn’t and their facebook page with all construction photos disappeared this week.” [b4-u-eat; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Swamplot inbox