06/29/18 3:45pm

AN UNDERCOVER BARFLY’S REPORT FROM DOWN THE STREET From the report of former Texas peace office and expert bar witness Darren K. Coleman who recently performed an assessment of Cottage Grove bar Down the Street at 5746 Larkin St.: “On April 20, 2018, Mr. Coleman made an anonymous visit to the Bar to make personal observations. During his visit, Mr. Coleman observed numerous cars parked along the street, some being cars belonging to Bar patrons and some belonging to residents and/or residents’ guests. He observed that traffic was not impeded by cars parked along the street; however, two cars could not pass at the same time. He assessed that this was not uncommon for any neighborhood where cars are parked along the street. Mr. Coleman did not observe litter in the area. Additionally, he observed the patrons to be well-behaved and polite. No one was intoxicated or displayed belligerent, loud, aggressive, or lewd behavior. The indoor music was at a moderate volume and was not loud enough to interfere with normal conversation.” Coleman’s report was included in testimony presented to a state judge after a group of neighbors protested the bar’s request to renew its TABC license. Based in part on Coleman’s outside opinion, the judge found Wednesday that the bar wasn’t violating any TABC rules and recommended the TABC approve its requested renewal. [Texas Office of Administrative Hearings] Photo: Down the Street

12/14/17 12:45pm

The former packaging warehouse at 7800 Washington — on its way to being reworked so that offices, furniture showrooms, and a restaurant can move into it, likely next year — already has a new tenant in place: The Study, a pop-up gallery and shop selling prints, greeting cards, and design-y gifts. Los Angeles-based artist Jacqueline Levine runs the store, which opened late last month in the southeast corner of the 66,000-sq.-ft. building.

Levine’s father, Larry Levine, is hoping a restaurant will take over the space once more of the building is ready for tenants. He’s the president of Levcor, the development firm that bought the building last year. The Study will be open through January, although it’ll take some holiday time off beginning on December 24.


The Study
09/18/17 3:00pm

The District at Washington Apartments at the corner of T.C. Jester and Schuler in Cottage Grove now feature apron-like attachments of plastic sheeting meant to provide cover to select masonry-stucco intersections on the façade. The reader who sent the photos to Swamplot says the tarps have been up for a few weeks now, and that repair work appears to be underway:


Flashing News
04/26/17 5:15pm

Construction at N. Shepherd at I-10, Cottage Grove, Houston, 77007

For now, this is the new order of things on the block between Shepherd and Durham drives along the northern I-10 feeder road. The former Fresh Car Wash, whose owners appear to be the ones behind that combo car wash and hookah bar at the corner of Dallas and Taft now going by the same name, was knocked down some time after it showed up on the demo roster last month (paired with the nextdoor branch of Big 10 Tires). In their places will go what could well be the third Inner Loop incursion of Raising Cane’s, which has now staked out more than 20 spots around Houston for its steadily creeping chicken fingers.


Nesting on I-10
03/27/17 11:00am

Mascalzone Ristorante Italiano, 1500 Shepherd Dr., Cottage Grove, Houston

The multinational dalliances of the restaurant building at 1500 Shepherd Dr., a parking lot away from the corner of Maxie, have come to an end — for now. The management of the outpost of British restaurant chain Mascalzone Ristorante Italiano announced the closure of the location over the weekend, not long after rumors of the shutdown were reported on Houston Food Finder. According to a post on the restaurant’s Facebook page, the Shepherd location will be “merging” with the still-operating Mascalzone location in the shopping center at 12126 Westheimer Rd., west of Kirkwood and across from the Phoenicia parking lot.


Arrivederci, British Italian Style
03/10/17 5:30pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: YOUR WEEKEND HEIGHTS-CREEP FORECAST Future Yale Marketplace site at Yale St. and 610 Loop, Garden Oaks/Independence Heights, Houston, 77018“Garden Oaks and Oak Forest are [already] part of The Heights (the same way they are calling Spring Branch ‘Memorial’, and a lot of long time residents were angry that new residents called Northside Village ‘Tampico Heights’). I have bad news for the purists out there: if you live in Cottage Grove, Independence Heights, Shady Acres, Brooke Smith, Timbergrove/Lazybrook, those areas are now part of The Heights [as well].  . . . These hoods that have the 365 stores are gonna get more pricey and popular, since they are close to Downtown.” [Dj, commenting on Whole Foods’s 365 Garden Oaks Spot Now Emptied of Neff Rental Rentals] Rendering of 365 Garden Oaks: Boucher Design Group

02/06/17 11:00am

5734 Larkin St., Cottage Grove, Houston, 77007

Behind the window bars and No Trespassing sign at 5734 Larkin St., a TABC application notice has been hanging out lately, a reader notes. The posting, which mentions the trade name Hidden Goods and denotes a request for late hours and beer and wine sales in the former home, is 2 doors down the street from residence-turned-cocktail-bar Down the Street at 5746 Larkin; other nearby hotspots on the block include the Iglesia Bautista Hosanna and the Larkin Street Baptist Church. The bar-to-be’s published legal notice from mid-December sports the name of Down the Street owner Cheryl Crider, who also opened opened bar-slash-coffee-shop Around the Corner in East Downtown back in 2015.

Photo: Swamplot inbox

Down Larkin St.
12/08/16 2:00pm

Pedestrian Bridge over White Oak at Durham St.

The section of bayou-hugging greenway trail running between Durham St. and Stude Park is getting the official OK tomorrow morning from Harris County Flood Control District and the Houston Parks Board. The photo above is of the pedestrian bridge across White Oak near Durham St. that previously supplanted the area’s “Bridge of Death” route; the segment opening tomorrow runs from that same bridge east along the bayou to the Studemont St. non-pedestrian bridge. The organizers are hoping would-be trail fans will use some means other than car to get to the ceremony location (off Studemont just north of I-10); if you have to drive, however, the invitation says you might be able to get a parking space across the freeway north of  Target.

Further east along the White Oak trail, here’s an updated view of how that link into Near Northside by the Leonel Castillo Community Center is coming along (taken in mid-November, once again from the same spot as that glitzed-up flood photo that made an appearance in Air New Zealand’s recent in-flight feature on Texas):


Greenways Growth Spurts
12/08/14 3:15pm


Over Thanksgiving weekend city workers opened a portion of the proposed hike-and-hike trail that will one day link downtown and Acres Homes.

Work began last October on this new section, one that heads west from the MKT hike-and-bike trail’s former official western terminus at Lawrence Park, under the N. Shepherd Dr. and N. Durham Dr. overpasses, and over White Oak Bayou, west to Cottage Grove and north towards an eventual link with the existing White Oak Bayou trail.

This link legitimizes a an unsanctioned though fairly popular “ninja route” long used by off-trail cyclists, who had been pedaling the gravel path from the park to a rickety, burned-out White Oak Bayou railway trestle known to as the “Bridge of Death,” seen below in a 2012 photo.


That’s been demolished and replaced with a sturdy span of of concrete and steel, complete with fancy, built-in insignia, and skyline and AIG building vistas.


Bike Path Breakthrough
12/03/14 10:03am


Here’s a look at Houston’s upcoming second location of the New Orleans-based PJ’s Coffee chain. The banner is up and workers are inside the new mini-strip mall at the Cottage Grove corner of Larkin St. and Durham Dr., just south of Yuppie Dog pet care, and just north of a taco truck-friendly parking lot and a Wendy’s, and just across the Katy Fwy. from looming competition in the form of a strip-mall Starbucks.


Caffeine Fix
07/07/14 10:45am

Future Home of Samurai Noodle Ramen Shop, Durham Shopping Center, 1801 Durham Dr. Suite 1, Cottage Grove, Houston

Future Home of Samurai Noodle Ramen Shop, Durham Shopping Center, 1801 Durham Dr. Suite 1, Cottage Grove, HoustonA source tells Swamplot that the Samurai Noodle restaurant that’s scheduled to open in the former Sprint spot in the Durham Shopping Center facing the Katy Fwy. feeder road (at center in the photo above) is in fact a first out-of-state venture for the acclaimed 3-location Seattle ramen shop of the same name. The I-10-facing spot in the strip center at 1801 Durham Dr. is wedged between Golden Hunan restaurant and the SNAP Spay-Neuter and Animal Wellness Clinic (not to be confused, we earnestly hope, with SNAP Kitchen). In Seattle, Samurai Noodle offers non-pork broth options for non-traditionalists, and allows customers to specify their preferred level of noodle firmness.


By the Katy Feeder
05/02/14 5:00pm

MAYBE WE SHOULD ROUND UP THE USUAL SUSPECTS Former Home of the Usual, 5519 Allen St. at T.C. Jester Blvd., Cottage Grove, HoustonWhat’s happened to the bar building by the Cottage Grove railroad tracks at 5519 Allen St. at the corner of T.C. Jester since lesbian bar The Usual shut down there in February? Perhaps a sale of the property and something new going in — but what? “Looks like someone bought the former home of The Usual,” reports a reader who drove by the site Friday and sent in this photo. “For sale sign is gone and there were workers in there today.” [Previously on Swamplot] Photo: Swamplot inbox

03/13/14 2:45pm

Solea, 1500 Shepherd Dr., Cottage Grove, Houston

A 2-location British restaurant chain specializing in Italian pizza and pastas has plans to open in the former spot of Solea (pictured above) at 1500 Shepherd Dr. at the corner of Maxie, just north of Washington Ave in Cottage Grove. Solea shut down a 14-month stint in that location last September, its owners hinting at the time of plans to reopen an entirely new restaurant in the space after a break, with perhaps a more focused menu than the one offering Mexican, Cajun, and Middle Eastern delights previously. Swamplot readers had noted the building’s construction back in 2010, when it was slated for a location of Bullritos.

No opening date is listed on the website of the Italian replacement, called Il Mascalzone. But the company site does list a second planned location in Houston, to supplement its Edgware and Putney spots in the UK: in a strip center at 12126 Westheimer, between Kirkwood and Dairy Ashford.


International Attention
02/24/14 11:00am

LATEST EXPLETIVE-LADEN, LANDLORD-BLAMING, BAR-CLOSING TIRADE COMES FROM THE USUAL The Usual, 5519 Allen St., Cottage Grove, HoustonCottage Grove lesbian bar The Usual shut down its patio-by-the-railroad-tracks location last week, and marked the occasion with a Facebook announcement declaring enough was enough: “We planned on remodeling but our landlord refused to pay for all the roofing and electrical needs (as most of you know was much needed) . . . we decided to say fuck it and we will do it and make The Usual look better than ever . . . but then we got news that our renewal would double our rent and our landlord is such a dick he knows we can’t afford that and he is so greedy and wanting to sell the property and could not because we were still there, he knew he had to get us out . . . well . . . we fought and fought but unfortunately had to make the decision to move . . . we will be absent for a short while but will return soon and can’t wait to see all of you!” A mysterious post on Yelp from a first-time reviewer points to an alternative — or perhaps additive — explanation for the sudden closing of the bar at 5519 Allen St., facing onto T.C. Jester: a TABC license that had expired at the end of last November. A more recent Facebook posting declares The Usual is “On the hunt for our NEW location!!! Only going bigger and better!!” [The Usual on Facebook, via Culturemap] Photo: LoopNet