01/10/17 5:15pm

5405 T.C. Jester Blvd., Oak Forest, Houston, 770

5405 T.C. Jester Blvd., Oak Forest, Houston, 770A strip-mall enthusiast cruising the northern edge of Oak Forest this week sends a few shots from a stop through the 5405 T.C. Jester Center just south of Tidwell Rd. The center, located east across Cole Creek from the Northwest Wastewater Treatment Plant, is home to Frio To Go, part of Houston’s budding tape-the-top frozen cocktail drive-thru scene. The daquiri store has been operating since 2014 under its traffic signal sigil; the shop’s placement also provides a handy opportunity for situational testing for the over-21 students of Prime Time Driving School, located a few doors down:


GO/OF Detours
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:

Prime Daiquiri Location in Sharpstown
04/30/15 11:00am

Sign for New Starbucks on Site of Former Village Mobil Gas Station, 8819 Katy Fwy., Hedwig Village, Texas

Crews working on the site of the former Village Mobil on the inbound I-10 feeder road at 8819 Katy Fwy. have now covered up part of the former gas station sign with a new hood announcing the Starbucks drive-thru now under construction in its place. But only the top part of the sign. “Will the Hedwig Village Starbucks stick with the ‘by the gallon’ pricing strategy of its predecessor?” asks reader (and Metro board member) Christof Spieler, who snapped this photo.

Photo: Christof Spieler

Regular, Super, or Diesel?
04/24/15 2:00pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: THE MORNING RITUAL Drive-Thru Line at Starbucks“. . . They subject themselves to the wait. They have to sit in their cars, inching forward, seething with rage at the a-hole in front for being slow, cursing the a-hole behind for being impatient, wasting precious minutes of finite existence, instead of sipping a cup of joe in tranquil splendor with the morning digital paper at the kitchen table. I understand the desire for convenience. I don’t understand how morning rush hour Starbucks can be seen as anything but torture.” [Memebag, commenting on Hedwig Village’s New Freeway-Side Starbucks Drive-Thru Is Coming To Save Your Missed Exit] Illustration: Lulu

04/21/15 11:00am

Construction of New Starbucks Drive-Thru at 8819 Katy Fwy. at Brogden Rd., Hedwig Village, Houston

Former Village Mobil at 8819 Katy Fwy. at Brogden Rd., Hedwig Village, HoustonHeaded into the Loop along I-10 and missed the exit for the Starbucks in the shopping center at Echo Ln.? Construction has already begun on your new inbound coffee-stop backup. The former site of the stone-encrusted Village Mobil gas station at the corner of Brogden and the eastbound Katy Fwy. feeder road (pictured here as it appeared before it was torn down last year) between Campbell and Voss is currently being transformed into a brand-new Starbucks drive-thru, a source tells Swamplot. And you can reach it from the next exit, for Bingle and Voss — if, in your uncaffeinated state, you can move 3 lanes over on the feeder fast enough. (If not, just apologize to the drivers you almost cut off and try to duck into the Sweet Tomatoes parking lot across the way to work your way back; if you miss that, you can take a mile-long turnaround through the neighborhood by making a right turn on Old Voss Rd.)


Katy Fwy. Coffee Chase
09/26/14 2:00pm

Los Robertos Taco Shop, 3200 S. Fry Rd., Katy, Texas

This fire-lane-accessible structure at 3200 S. Fry Rd., on the eastern edge of Cinco Ranch, will soon be the home of Los Robertos Taco Shop, a 3-location (soon to be 4-) chain expanding east from San Antonio. The taco outpost, which will stay open 24 hours, 7 days a week, will be taking over for the Chicken Express that closed at this spot earlier this year. Conveniently located immediately north of the Cinco Ranch Alzheimer’s Special Care Center, the drive-thru lies just one parking lot south of Westheimer Pkwy.


Los Robertos Taco Shop
09/04/14 12:00pm

Accident at Canopy Restaurant, 3939 Montrose Blvd., Montrose, Houston

Accident at Canopy Restaurant, 3939 Montrose Blvd., Montrose, HoustonAbout 3 years ago, Canopy added an actual canopy to the south side of its spot at the end of the 3939 Montrose strip center. (It required a variance from the city.) More recently, the restaurant has been busy installing a new coffee bar and bar bar in the space next door, which it’ll be expanding into. (Former neighbor Montrose Dry Cleaners relocated further north in the same center a while back.) But the latest addition proceeded much more suddenly: Yesterday afternoon, around 2:30, a customer saw fit to install a drive-thru directly in front of the restaurant, by stepping on the gas pedal while under the impression that the car was in reverse.


Not So Fast
08/21/14 2:15pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: THAT MONTROSE LOOK Drawing of Raising Cane's, 1902 Westheimer Rd., Montrose, Houston“If you really look at the building, it resembles a typical three story townhome, shrunk and widened to one level. Even the arched facade mimics the townhome in the background. And let’s face, the neighborhood behind it is rapidly becoming a majority townhome area if it isn’t already. So maybe it does resemble the neighborhood after all. . . . If you seriously look at Montrose, it is just a polyglot of everything. A lot of it is butt ugly but the trees and grown out landscaping obscure it. My neighborhood and its adjacents are filled with homes, apartments, offices, etc. spanning 90 years of different styles and much of it is seemingly incompatible if viewed as a single entity. That is Montrose. It ain’t The Woodlands!” [JT, commenting on Raising Cane’s Is Almost Ready To Grab the Corner of Hazard and Westheimer with Its Chicken Fingers] Illustration: Lulu

08/19/14 12:00pm

Construction of Raising Cane's, 1902 Westheimer Rd., Montrose, Houston

The signs are now up at the new building under construction at 1902 Westheimer Rd., across the street from the Winlow Westheimer shopping center. And they say: Raising Cane’s. And that means your center-of-Montrose drive-thru chicken finger spot will be opening very soon. Raising Cane’s is no stranger to Westheimer; the new restaurant will mark Raising Cane’s fourth location on the street (it’s got the 12201, 7531, and 5015 spots already). But this’ll be the first one inside the Loop.

More pics of Lower Westheimer’s fast-food future:


Montrose Drive-Thrus
08/04/14 2:45pm

DRIVE-THRU BANH MI SPOT WILL OPEN IN FORMER LUCKY BURGER ON RICHMOND BEFORE THE END OF THE YEAR Rendering of Oui Banh Mi Drive-Thru, 1601 Richmond Ave at Mandell St., Montrose, HoustonLes Givral’s Kahve co-owner Qui Ly confirms to Eater Houston’s Darla Guillen that a new drive-thru banh mi joint named Oui Banh Mi will be taking over the keg-shaped longtime home of Montrose mainstay Lucky Burger — as Swamplot reported last month. In addition to the Vietnamese sandwiches, Oui Banh Mi will offer desserts from the Lys’ Oui Desserts spot on Kirby Dr., including macarons, tarts, and pastries. Scheduled opening date for the spot at the 1601 Richmond Ave.: before the end the year. And more locations are planned. The restaurant owners also posted a refrigerator-worthy “artist’s conception” of the renovated corner site (above) to the restaurant’s Instagram account. [Eater Houston; previously on Swamplot] Rendering: Oui Banh Mi

07/21/14 2:30pm

JUST SAY ‘OUI’ TO DRIVE-THRU BANH MI AT THE FORMER LUCKY BURGER SPOT Keys to Former Lucky Burger Building at 1601 Richmond Ave., Montrose, HoustonThe photo at right, posted to the Instagram account of Oui Banh Mi, a new venture from the Vietnamese-cuisine crew behind Washington Ave restaurant Les Givral’s Kahve and Kirby Dr. sweet outlet Oui Desserts, would seem to confirm Swamplot’s report last week that the group is planning a new drive-thru Banh Mi establishment in the recently vacated building at 1601 Richmond Ave — the barrel-shaped structure long occupied by the recently shuttered Lucky Burger. On the other hand, it could be that they’re just borrowing keys from the landlord for a little look-see. [Previously on Swamplot] Photo: Oui Banh Mi

07/15/14 12:00pm

LUCKY BURGER REPLACEMENT: DRIVE-THRU BANH MI FROM THE LES GIVRAL’S CREW? Former Lucky Burger Building for Lease, 1601 Richmond Ave., Montrose, HoustonIt looks like a new drive-thru Banh Mi spot from the folks behind the rapidly expanding Les Givral’s restaurant empire is hoping to take over the recently vacated Lucky Burger building at the corner of Richmond and Mandell St. in Montrose. That’s the strongly hinted story, at least, implicit in the new teaser Twitter account for the venture, called Oui BanhMi, affiliated with the Les Givral’s Kahve restaurant on Washington Ave (as well as the recently opened Oui Desserts at 3411 Kirby and the Banh Mieria food truck), which pinpoints itself at Lucky Burger’s old 1601 Richmond Ave address. Any more evidence of the plans? Well, there’s this blurred sheet of “brainstorm” notes posted to the Les Givrals Instagram account last month. [OuiBanhMi on Twitter, via Chic Chick Chic Eats; previously on Swamplot] Photo of Lucky Burger: Swamplot inbox

07/09/14 10:45am

W Grill, 4825 Washington Ave., Houston

What do the Smoothie King at the corner of S. Shepherd and West Alabama, the W Grill at 4825 Washington Ave. (pictured above), and the southern parking lot of the Taco Cabana at the corner of South Main and Old Spanish Trail have in common? They’re all shaped from former locations of Rally’s Hamburgers. After the burger chain’s exit from Houston in the mid-to-late nineties, the distinctive white structures with rounded corners and glass block were repurposed to a range of uses by subsequent tenants. Before its Smoothie King transformation, for example, the spot at 3007 S. Shepherd Dr. did time as a bank. A location of Checkers Drive-in (a rival chain that later merged with Rally’s) at the northwest corner of Antoine and West Tidwell was transformed into a Church’s Chicken — before, that is, being scraped for a drive-up retail box housing a payday lender and a wireless store.


The Drive-Thru Burger Race
05/08/14 2:45pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: IT’S DRIVE-THRUS, NOT APARTMENTS, THAT ARE THE REAL TRAFFIC-CAUSING MENACE Traffic Backup at Starbucks Drive-Thru“Feared traffic density related to construction of highrise apt/condo buildings is severely overestimated. Traffic flow in and out of the garages is spread out throughout the course of the day, so the increased number of cars will be mostly unnoticed at any point in time on any given day. There are more traffic concerns associated with a drive thru at Starbucks when the line backs up onto the street, thereby interfering with cars which are trying to get around the line. People do crazy things with their cars when trying to get in line for their coffee.” [Escout, commenting on Construction Work Has Begun on the Ashby Highrise] Illustration: Lulu

10/07/11 11:17am

Guatemalan fast-food chain Pollo Campero‘s new-prototype restaurant (pictured above) will soon become the fourth standalone drive-thru in a row along a section of the south side of Washington Ave. Driving east from the corner of Durham, you’ll find the W Grill (at left, featuring 2 drive-thru windows), then a Jack in the Box on the corner of Shepherd. After El Rey Taqueria comes the future Pollo Campero site at 4701 Washington Ave., slated to be the company’s next-in-line location — a new one is about to open at 702 W. Bay Area Blvd. in Webster, and another is planned for Missouri City. Any room for this burgeoning Washington Ave drive-thru scene to grow? That small building wedged between the W Grill and the Jack-in-the-Box could start to look hungry.

Images: Pollo Campero and W Grill