A curious 2-month-old “growing sewage odor” has forced 2-and-a-half-month-old Koya Asian Kitchen to announce that the restaurant will shut its doors forever, its owner claims. Before coming to the decision, owner Lisa Zhou says she employed a sequence of smell-be-gone techniques, including lighting scented candles, deploying a phalanx of air fresheners, and even opening the doors of the Szechuan establishment in a brand-new strip center at the corner of Spring Cypress and Old Holzwarth Rd., across from H-E-B. “In the end,” writes Zhou in a Facebook post published yesterday, “none has been effective against the horrendous smell.”
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COMMENT OF THE DAY RUNNER-UP: DOWNTOWN’S HORSE PEE PROBLEM “If the streets smell like pee it is because of the horse cops. Seriously, walking down Main Street is like walking through a barn, and it isn’t the fault of the homeless — it is the dang horses. Why do we need horse cops anyways? Can’t cops get around on bike, or scooter, or something that doesn’t leave piles of poop in the middle of the street?” [Evan7257, commenting on Bringing the Streets Downtown Right into the Lobbies]
COMMENT OF THE DAY: I’M SMELLING THAT LISTING ALREADY “I love this house . . . and I know exactly how it must smell: a homey mix of old furniture, mothballs, and mildew with a touch of Pine-Sol. I would buy it as is, furnished and everything.” [Miz Brooke Smith, commenting on A Lindale Park Cottage, Much as It Was]
COMMENT OF THE DAY: EACH INGREDIENT IS IMPORTANT “. . . it IS the bayou odor, the bat guano smells, the methane sewer gas & auto exhaust fumes that combine to make the ‘Houston smell’!” [Patrick, commenting on More Pedestrian Bridges and Other Twists and Turns in the Plans for Buffalo Bayou Park]
COMMENT OF THE DAY: THINKS HIS POOP DON’T STINK “That’s weird. [pot-bellied pig] poop doesn’t really smell much (not like a hog farm, where the hogs are fed to bursting). It’s kinda similar to rabbit or deer (remember these are prey animals). Wilbur may be overfed? Or not eating proper PBP food, which is like rabbit food pellets – alfalfa + protein mix. We rake the poo up & put on the compost pile or mix it directly into the garden soil. It does not burn the grass. Or attract flies, really. Maybe the neighbor is smelling something else? An 8-month-old PBP will produce about 20 little balls of poop a day on the proper diet. Sorry if this is TMI, but I feel I owe it to Wilbur to produce some facts from a long-time responsible pig owner. I can smell our neighbor’s dog’s poop next door – and the wandering cat’s – but the pigs’ is not nasty at all. I was kind of worried when we got our first one that it would be a problem, but it is not. And our neighbors will tell you that too.” [Flake, commenting on Spring Potbellied Pig Dispute Hits the Courts] Photo: Wilbur Sardo
COMMENT OF THE DAY: THE LOST SCENT “It broke my heart when they closed down the location near my high school on Hilcroft many years ago. [It] was a great place for ‘off campus’ dining. Don’t even get me started about the closure of the original Taft location without warning. Don’t they know it takes decades to achieve that wonderful aroma from all those imported cheeses, olives, etc.? This is a smell my children (and I) will never experience again.” [jgbiggs, commenting on Po’ Boys Priced Out of the Village]
NO INDICTMENT FOR TWINS WHO LEFT MOM ALONE Murder charges have been dismissed against 48-year-old twins Edwin and Edward Berndt, who let their mother lie on the foyer floor of their Meadowbrook Freeway home for 3 days after she slipped and fell— and then left her body to rot in place for 3 months after she died there. The Berndt’s attorney, Robert Scardino, has claimed the twins were born mentally disabled and had depended on their mother for their care. He described the scene investigators found at 8402 Glenscott St. to 11 News reporter Courtney Zubowski back in May: “It doesn’t appear that there was any hygiene [or] baths or showers taken. There was water, but it was trickling water. There was no air conditioning. There were a lot of empty popcorn bags in the house. There were a lot of broken egg shells in the house and a lot of empty tin cans where they were eating food out of a tin can which indicated to me there wasn’t any grocery shopping. . . . It was in a state that I’m not sure even the most warped director in Hollywood could have made up the scene in that house.” [KHOU 11 News; previously on Swamplot] Photo: ABC News
Got a question about something going on in your neighborhood you’d like Swamplot to answer? Sorry, we can’t help you. But if you ask real nice and include a photo or 2 with your request, maybe the Swamplot Street Sleuths can! Who are they? Other readers, just like you, ready to demonstrate their mad skillz in hunting down stuff like this:
Are we batting only .500 here?
- Midtown: There’s more new to the Houston House Apartments than just that exterior paint job. Catching an elevator has been a bit tough and there’s the occasional burst pipe or AC interruption, but otherwise the ongoing renovation is looking good so far, a resident reports: “The new carpet on the residential floors is a geometric pattern with a good mix of cool and bold colors. The units are looking much improved with new finishes and appliances. The appliances are pretty low end but definitely an improvement. The lobby’s looking great. The color-scheme there is a brown and orange and white palette. I’m not a huge fan of the two accent walls of orange dots but the new lettering and signage in the lobby is a great addition. I haven’t been up to the renovated 9th floor (lounge, gym and pool) in a while . . . but when I last saw it it was looking fantastic with a cleaned-up, opened-up, and really bright feel.“
- Melrose Place: Next act for the former Monarch Cleaners building at 2815 South Shepherd, known more recently as the Fox Diner, Cafe Serranos Cantina, Crome, and then Pravada, as several readers pointed out: former Textile chef Ryan Hildebrand‘s new triple threat, Triniti. MC²‘s design for the currently gutted restaurant will include a garden and — judging from some recent construction photos — some colorful applications of perforated metal panels:
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Got an answer to any of these reader questions? Or just want to be a sleuth for Swamplot? Here’s your chance! Add your report in a comment, or send a note to our tipline.
- Melrose Place: Waiting in line at the Starbucks drive-thru south of Westheimer, a reader snaps this photo of the former Crome Lounge at 2815 South Shepherd next door, and reports: “It has been vacant as far as I can tell for months if not a year. Now there is renovation going on.” What’s next for the former Fox Diner and Monarch Cleaners building?
- Galleria: The HBJ‘s Jennifer Dawson reports that ahem, “distracting food smells” from “a fragrant cafeteria” that recently moved onto the same floor as the Houston CPA Society in the office building at 1700 West Loop South are what drove the professional association to leave its offices of 33 years for new digs on Post Oak Blvd. Sadly, the article doesn’t identify the cafeteria or the exact nature of the wafting “spicy aromas” that sent all those accountants packing. Any guesses?
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A bit more on those twin brothers over in Meadowbrook Freeway who spent the last 3 months living in their home at 8402 Glenscott St. with the rotting dead body of their 89-year-old mother. Turns out Sybil Berndt was not found decomposing on the floor of the living room for all that time, as was first reported — her corpse was lying face down in the foyer, right behind the front door pictured here. Which might explain why Edwin Berndt thought it would be wiser to let in the police officer who came to investigate reports of concern about his mother (she wasn’t responding to her voicemail messages, a neighbor had reported) through the side door. Oh — and one more thing: Edwin and his brother Edward left their mother on the floor right where she fell for 3 whole days — alive — before she started in with that dying and decomposing bit.
The story of the 48-year-old couldn’t-be-bothered twins and the stench of their mother’s corpse has now been reported in newspapers, on teevee news, and on websites all over the world. But no retelling of the events we’ve come across so far has managed to surpass the deadpan drama of the Probable Cause affidavit prepared by HPD sergeant R. Torres, who was called to the scene shortly after Berndt’s body was found. Torres’s writeup brings together brilliantly the many themes of multigenerational family life the story so shockingly cartoons: fears of falling among the elderly, the selflessness of mothers, unacknowledged (or at least uncelebrated) birthdays, incapacitating miserliness, the difficulty of meal preparation, a parent’s financial support, bluffing, and of course, the ungratefulness of children:
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AT HOME IN MEADOWBROOK FREEWAY Found in the living room of a 53-year-old home still occupied by 40-something twins on the corner of Glenscott and Hinman, just northwest of the Gulf Freeway’s Monroe exit: the decomposing corpse of their 88-year-old mother. A neighbor had called Adult Protective Services after the woman, who had been active in the Meadowbrook Freeway Civic Club, stopped returning messages. A police source described the smell as “unimaginable,” a police source tells 11 News reporter Courtney Zubowski: “’Everything was closed up for so long,’ said the neighbor. ‘She would go to the country for a week or she would go to the country for maybe two weeks tops and this is like three months, maybe two-and-a-half months.’ What detectives are trying to figure out now is why the brothers didn’t call for help.” [KHOU 11 News; previously on Swamplot]
COMMENT OF THE DAY: TAKE IT FROM SOMEONE WHO’S BEEN THERE “That’s too bad; this home was quite the beautiful antique. Just the other day I broke into the backyard shed and spent the night in there, along with a pile of scrap metal… It smelled very old.” [Cornelius Rostiger, commenting on Daily Demolition Report: Whacking Wateka]
RAINY DAYS AND SUNDAYS ALWAYS GET ME DOWN “So it stinks like something awful again where I am today (the Heights). I look at the calendar and realize it’s been 2 prime dump days in a row, a wet Sunday followed by a national holiday. An old friend of mine who grew up on the east side used to say that a Sunday when it rained was the perfect day for all the refineries to release their nastiest emissions, because the rain masked it and for some reason there wasn’t any enforcement on the weekend. I’m wondering where else in the city it smells like what I’m smelling, and is there any truth to the rainy-day-dump theory? That’s some strong anecdotal evidence in my nostrils.” [Swamplot inbox]
The 31-year-old man who lived in unit 2 of this fourplex at 601 Fairview in Montrose apparently didn’t get out much; at the moment he’s being evaluated at the Harris County Mental Health Service Center. The body of his 66-year-old mother, Abigail Saucedo, was discovered in the apartment yesterday morning; it will soon undergo an autopsy. The wafting odor of her decomposing corpse had been noted even across the street — at the original Barnaby’s Cafe, where patio diners over the weekend couldn’t quite place that curious smell. Ultimately, a neighboring tenant found the unidentified stench too much to bear, and called the police. The tenant at No. 2, who had been living in the property for 8 months, at first told the cops that the smell was probably from a dead animal underneath the property, and that he didn’t want to let them in to check out his place because it might disturb his mother, who was not feeling well. Earlier, he’d turned away the property manager with a similar excuse — that his mother was asleep and he didn’t want to wake her.
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