08/06/13 10:00am

A reader sends this photo of the vacant building at 608 Westheimer between Katz’s Deli and Bombshell Tattoo and Piercing Studio that the owners of Vinoteca Poscól have bought and are planning to relocate to next year. Eater Houston reports that the new 6,300-sq.-ft. spot will provide quite a bit more room than the old one owners Marco and Gloria Wiles — who also run Da Marco and Dolce Vita — were renting in that strip center at 1609 Westheimer, across the street from Buffalo Exchange and Hugo’s. Observes Darla Guillen: “The increased square footage will allow them to seat more customers, and they will have a bigger bar with plenty of local brews on tap.”

Photo: Swamplot inbox

07/02/13 11:10am

RADICAL EATS REPLACING LOWER WESTHEIMER’S PULLED-OUT ROOTS The Near Northside vegan dive Radical Eats is closing and relocating across town to the recently closed Roots Bistro on Westheimer, reports Gastronaut Katherine Shilcutt. (Roots closed in early June after some bungling of its marquee.) Shilcutt adds that Radical Eats owner Staci Davis sees the move to this less “scruffy” space as a chance expand her menu to include dishes that use meat, cheese, and eggs, a culinary move not without consequence: “She admitted that some of her diehard vegan customers were furious with her decision, even calling in to a radio show she was appearing on as a guest and lambasting her on-air. ‘What are you going to do?’ she asked, with a rhetorical shoulder shrug.” [Culturemap; Gastronaut; previously on Swamplot] Photo of 507 Westheimer: Allyn West

06/06/13 1:30pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: NEIGHBORHOOD NAMES STICK “Alief didn’t start getting rebranded as the International District till about 3 years ago; as a matter of fact, no one that lived there knew anyone was calling it something other than Alief. It wasn’t until they put those idiotic balls in the medians that anyone local knew someone was calling it something other than Alief. The Super Neighborhood is still called Alief. Hong Kong City Mall was transformed from a pasture to a Mall over a decade ago, that huge strip center at Wilcrest and Bellaire is almost as old. Maybe in 40 or 50 years people may latch onto the name International District in favor of Alief, but then they’re going to wonder why the Library is still called Alief Regional Library, and the school district is still Alief Independent School District, or why the community center is called Alief Community Center. Or why there’s a animal hospital called Alief Animal Hospital. I have a strong suspicion Alief will always be called Alief, no matter how many weird balls they put in the medians. And I’d also rather just call it Montrose and have people ask me if I’m gay than call it Lower Westheimer and have the 15 minute discussion about where it is, and the end result being that I tell them it’s the new name for Montrose and I’ll still be asked if I’m gay.” [toasty, commenting on Headlines: Eating Steak at CityCentre; Watching SkyHouse Rise]

04/30/13 10:00am

The other tenant in this new retail center at Westheimer and Dunlavy will be Space Montrose. Owner Leila Peraza says that by August the artsy and crafty retailer at 2608 Dunlavy will be relocating from this spot behind Cafe Brasil into the 4,800-sq.-ft. building under construction at the corner about 200 ft. away. Space Montrose will take up 1,200 sq. ft. of that and share a wall with what a pending liquor license names Leaven & Earth,pastry cafe from well-schooled, globe-trotting chef Roy Shvartzapel. Recently, 2608 Dunlavy has been an art gallery and yoga studio; Peraza says she heard a book store is next.

Photos: Allyn West

04/26/13 11:35am

A rep from Edge Realty Partners says that that new retail center that’s now under construction at Westheimer and Dunlavy will have 2 tenants. The primary one, occupying 3,600 sq. ft. of the new building’s proposed 4,800, will be a well-bread pastry cafe from Roy Shvartzapel, the globe-trotting chef profiled recently in Eater Houston. A TABC permit application, filed April 17, suggests that the cafe will be called Leaven & Earth.

And the other tenant? The Edge rep says that names can’t yet be named, but that a lease is all but complete for a “boutique” retail shop that’s already in Montrose to relocate inside the remaining 1,200-sq.-ft. suite that’s depicted in the rendering here as right next to Agora.

Images: Edge Realty Partners (rendering); Allyn West (building)

04/24/13 3:30pm

Note: More here.

It looks like that retail center that’s replacing the art gallery that burned down is beginning to shape up. And it looks like at least one of the future tenants intends to serve adult beverages. The sign behind the chain-link at the site names the applicant as Leaven & Earth, and a rep from the TABC confirms that the application, filed on April 17, is pending. The original plans for the site here at 1706 Westheimer describe a 4,829-sq.-ft. building — with 36 parking spaces behind it, accessible from Dunlavy — designed to replace the Galerie Mado Chalvet, which was lost in a fire and immortalized on a backpack in 2012.

Photos: Allyn West

04/05/13 11:30am

This photo of the strip center just west of the Lower Westheimer restaurant row shows the recently closed Tejas Custom Boots and Hollywood Food & Cigars. A Swamplot reader says that a sign posted in the window here at Helen and 208 Westheimer says that the alligator- and ostrich-unfriendly bootmakers will be moving the stretching and stitching operations farther west to the 400 block of Westheimer. As of Friday morning, calls to Tejas Custom Boots for comment about the relocation and reopening haven’t been returned. City records show that the 4,100-sq.-ft. 1960 building and 11,322-sq.-ft. property are owned by a single family.

Photo: Swamplot inbox

01/24/13 10:00am

At a Neartown meeting two days ago, Kirk Baxter presented these two drawings for a Mary’s memorial, according to a HAIF poster, celebrating the 30-year heyday of the Westheimer bar for Montrose’s gay community. Some 300 memorial services were held here over the years. Mary’s was closed in 2009; the building where it sat since the early ’70s opened this weekend as the coffee shop Blacksmith.

The drawings show a kind of replica Mary’s installed near Waugh and Hyde Park; two of Mary’s original doors — donated to the project by Blacksmith owner Bobby Heugel — would sit underneath tiles reclaimed from the original roof.

Nothing about the memorial has been approved or decided yet, says the HAIF poster. During the meeting several other potential locations were brought up: a spot behind the original building the regulars called the Out Back, and across the street, facing the building, in front of Half Price Books.

Photos: HAIF user trymahjong

01/22/13 11:15am

The plastic hasn’t even been peeled away from the awning, but Blacksmith is open as of yesterday morning. Headed up by Greenway Coffee & Tea’s David Buehrer, the coffee shop is operating out of the popular leather bar Mary’s old building at 1022 Westheimer. A block west of Montrose Blvd., Blacksmith is Lower Westheimer’s second coffee shop to open in the last few months — Southside Espresso went in next to Uchi at the end of October.

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11/26/12 11:48am

No bids yet on the sleepy sombero man in front of the hacked cactus removed from the sign in front of the former Felix Mexican Restaurant at the corner of Westheimer and Grant last year. And no bids on the other formerly east- and west-facing portions of the popular sign, which the space’s new owner, Uchi, put up for auction separately on eBay early this morning. The starting bid for each disassembled segment is a hefty $1,500, but Uchi doesn’t appear to be in this game for fish money. Proceeds are promised to the LULAC National Scholarship Fund; the former restaurant’s namesake, Tex-Mex pioneer Felix Tijerina, served as LULAC’s national president for 4 terms. The “Orders To Go” flyer from the original sign hasn’t shown up in any online auction yet.

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10/29/12 12:34pm

LITTLE HOUSE OF COFFEE AND DRINKS OPENS BEHIND UCHI Friday was a grand grand opening day in the Inner Loop. The big bear-hug welcomes may have been for the long-awaited Washington Heights Walmart and the Studemont Kroger — but also making its debut on that day was tiny Southside Espresso, the little up-Grant-St.-behind-Uchi coffee place Fusion Beans proprietor Sean Marshall has been working on since signing a lease for the 714-sq.-ft. space labeled 904-C Westheimer 15 months ago. The tiny coffee house will be open until midnight every night — in part to flex its newly acquired beer-and-wine license. [Eater Houston; previously on Swamplot] Photo: David Buehrer

10/26/12 1:52pm

Photographer Karen Dressel was on hand at lunchtime today to document the final few bites of the excavator demolishing the last of the 3 former Ruggles Grill buildings at 903 Westheimer, just east of Montrose. Two adjacent buildings, at 817 and 907 Westheimer, were torn down earlier this month; Cherry Demolition’s excavator worked up an appetite waiting on-site for the last demo permit to come through. That happened yesterday, and the meal began shortly after breakfast this morning:

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06/19/12 2:24pm

The half-empty strip center left over from a series of unfortunate redos of City Hall architect Joseph Finger’s 1937 Tower Community Center (which once served as an art-deco companion piece to the former Tower Theater across the street) is now under contract to a new owner, along with the entire 2.86-acre block at the southwest corner of Westheimer and Montrose. That’s the word from a posting on the property’s listing site noted by Going Up! City, but the listing brokers at HFF aren’t providing any additional information.

Unless someone wants to spill the beans on the purchaser’s identity or any plans for the current home of Half Price Books, Spec’s, Papa John’s, and 3-6-9 China Bistro (along with the standalone Jack-in-the-Box at Montrose and Lovett) before then, you’ll have to wait until the seller issues a press release — which will happen sometime next week, a source tells Swamplot — for additional details. The property went on the market in early March.

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06/01/12 8:43pm

Do you miss the old Galerie Mado Chalvet building at 1706 Westheimer? And, um . . . another question: Do you need a backpack? Designer Julia Gabriel has just the thing for you, then: Your very own handmade 1706 Westheimer Rd. backpack, modeled after photos she took of the hulking duplex-turned-antique-store after it burned last July. It’s since been torn down — along with the neighboring structures on the corner of Dunlavy and Westheimer — for a new development. The HSPVA grad watched the building’s demolition from across the street at Domy Books, but she’d already decided to memorialize the building as a backpack. Yeah, she does that sort of thing: “My backpacks are what I imagine these abandoned buildings were like in their prime: fresh and new with a dash of color,” she writes. “They include a stitched map that shows the buildings original location so it can always find its way home.”

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04/26/12 10:27am

Fresh off its work transforming the former Monarch Cleaners/Fox Diner/Cafe Serranos Cantina/Crome/Pravada building on Shepherd into Triniti Restaurant (with the help of some colorful perforated metal), Houston’s MC2 Architects is now designing its second restaurant — this time from scratch. It’s a “contemporary building with a rustic farmhouse feel” that’ll take the place of the shuttered and soon-to-be-dismantled Ruggles Grill at 903 Westheimer, just east of Montrose. Inside will be a new (yes) rustic American restaurant for the same owners — called Brande, Triniti chef Ryan Hildebrand announced yesterday. All that rusticity will take time, of course: The scheduled opening season is a far-off fall 2013.

Photo: Candace Garcia