07/19/17 1:30pm

The self-styled “House of a Million Parts” at 1225 Sawyer St. once known as Johnny Frank’s Auto Parts Company was torn to pieces last summer. Freshly applied to the chain-link fence surrounding the now-vacant lot: a new TABC notice, announcing to passers-by that an establishment named the Sawyer Ice House is hoping to sling cocktails on the premises before too long. The land is across the road from those arted-up rice silos on Sawyer St., which are across Edwards St. from the Shops at Sawyer Yards. It appears to be another of the projects in that neck of the woods that trace back to Lovett Commercial, which is working on parking lots and a slew of other developments in the area as well. Here’s what Sawyer Ice House might look like, per what appears to be the bar’s new save-the-name Facebook page:

CONTINUE READING THIS STORY

Car Lot Reincarnation
04/12/17 12:45pm

Super Bowl Alcohol Sales Boost Map

“I can’t explain how a Chili’s got on the list, but that Chili’s must have been pretty lit,” writes engineer and bar aficionado Ian Wells. Wells just wrapped up his latest data-crunching escapade: a dive into how much extra alcohol sales revenue was actually pulled in by Super Bowl LI (as well as where that boost was distributed and who bagged most of the excess). The map above gives an idea of how the $8.9 million in extra alcohol sales (plus or minus a couple million) were spread out around town during February; Wells notes that probably only 5% of establishments saw more than a $25,000 boost above what they would have made in a normal February, though there’s lot of uncertainty in modeling any given bar’s expected “normal” revenue.

So who got the biggest percentage sales bumps? Here’s the rundown through the top 10, and some highlights from the top 100, plus more on where all those numbers come from:

CONTINUE READING THIS STORY

Crunching the Numbers
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.
01/20/17 4:00pm

1920 Houston Ave., First Ward, Houston, 77007

1920 Houston Ave., First Ward, Houston, 77007Despite being marketed previously as a potential site for up to 15 freestanding townhomes, the townhome-fringed lot at the corner of Houston Ave. and Spring St. now sports a TABC permit notification instead. A reader caught some evening views of the corner and the sign announcing mixed-beverage and late-night plans for its little 1996 building (which names Spring Street Beer and Wine Garden as the incoming occupant). New owners (at least the 6th to purchase the property since 2005, per county records) purchased the property in the fall, and the Attack of the Killer Condos mural previously facing the Heights Hike & Bike Trail along Spring St. has already been painted over:

CONTINUE READING THIS STORY

Holding the Line in First Ward
08/16/16 1:45pm

SOMETHING HOT MOVING IN ON 59 DINER’S FORMER FARNHAM SPOT Former 59 Diner, 3801 Farnham St,, Upper Kirby, Houston, 77098With the ghostly reflection of the restaurant’s milkshake-shaped beacon hovering to the far left, a reader sends a shot of the TABC notice now replacing the hand-scrawled closed-indefinitely signage on the door of the former S. Shepherd 59 Diner location. The sign lists Alcaliente Houston as the applicant; 2 restaurants currently operate in Katy and the Woodlands respectively under the name Alcaliente, serving halal-and-also-very-non-halal Mexican food. The diner spot cleared out beneath a cloud of worker payment disputes in early March, shortly after The Halal Guys moved in to the west. [Previously on Swamplot] Photo of TABC notice at 3801 Farnham St.: Swamplot inbox

08/16/16 12:15pm

Work at at 1916 Baldwin St., Midtown, Houston, 77002

Here’s the latest from the house-turned-law-office-space at 1916 Baldwin St., now getting worked over behind its previously-noticed TABC application notice. A few more details on what’s planned for the spot have since surfaced, as Phaedra Cook and Craig Masilow noted earlier this summer while writing about the ongoing legal whosamawhatsit of the newly-rotated nightclub formerly known as Gaslamp (about 2 minutes to the south by car). Cook and Masilow point out that the owner of the Baldwin space appears to be Gaslamp owner Ayman Jarrah’s brother, and that Jarrah himself is listed as the manager of the business moving in at the Baldwin address (referred to as Oakmont) in a TABC-nodding newspaper notice published in May.

A reader on the scene, meanwhile, notes the construction going on in and around the structure (above), including a 2-story something going up out back:

CONTINUE READING THIS STORY

Going by Oakmont
08/11/16 4:00pm

YES, THE HEIGHTS DRY ZONE PETITIONERS REALLY DID COLLECT ENOUGH SIGNATURES FOR A VOTE TABC regional headquarters in Heights Medical Tower, 427 West 20th Street, Suite 600 Houston Heights, Houston, 77008Tuesday’s city council meeting gave the formal OK to the H-E-B-backed Heights Beverage Coalition’s petition for a local option election on whether or not to allow the take-home sale of beer and wine within the boundaries of the nominal dry zone formerly known as City of Houston Heights. The number of signatures required was set as 35 percent of the voters in the affected zone who voted in the 2014 governor’s election — which county clerk Stan Stanart pegged at 1,511 in early July. The city secretary announced the petitioner’s total as 1,759 valid signatures; Tuesday’s vote to approve those findings means the measure will be on the ballot in November. [City of Houston, Houston Public Media; previously on SwamplotPhoto of TABC regional headquarters at 427 W. 20th St.: LoopNet

07/19/16 11:30am

First Church of Christ, Scientist, 1720 Main St., Downtown, Houston, TX 77002
First Church of Christ, Scientist, 1720 Main St., Downtown, Houston, TX 77002A dumpster was spotted last week loitering around the Travis St. entrance of the Mod-ish Brutal-ish teal-ish former Christian Science church downtown, which, per the language on a building permit issued this month, is now being converted into a nightclub. The name listed on the permit (Club Spire) marks something of a shift in the tone previously set by the new owners this spring, when the group connected to Clé bar sought a TABC permit for the building under the name 1720 Main Reception Hall.

A curious reader sends the Friday afternoon shot above, along with an inquiry as to the fate of any interior furnishings and materials to be stripped away (the outside being fairly naked already, save for the gold-and-blue soon-to-be-eponymous spire). Here’s a last look from inside, around, and on top of the church’s sanctuary and courtyard as it was just prior to the finalization of the sale this spring — the elongated diamond-slash-triangle motif that covers the area behind the altar is carried through much of the rest of the building, from the stained-glass windows to the furniture: 

CONTINUE READING THIS STORY

Born Again on Main St.
07/12/16 4:15pm

1931 Fairview St., Vermont Commons, Houston, 77019

TABC Notice at 1931 Fairview, July 2016A different kind of sign has popped up at the corner of Fairview Ave. and Morse St., notes a reader — the 1961 building that formerly housed McGowen Cleaners (shown above earlier this year decked out in NewQuest Properties sales banners) now sports a notice that the new owners have applied for a handful of food, beverage, and mixed drink permits from the TABC. The sign names Vibrant Living LLC as the applicant for the licenses; an entity by the same name (headquartered in the address of office and retail developer Barnhart Interests) purchased the 3 adjacent lots at the corner from former Cleaners owner and operator George Groschke in May.

CONTINUE READING THIS STORY

What’s Cooking in Montrose
04/08/16 12:30pm

Shopping Center planned at 3519 Clinton Dr., Fifth Ward, Houston, 77020

Shopping Center planned at 3519 Clinton Dr., Fifth Ward, Houston, 77020

A reader notes a notice on the formerly-barred now-boarded front window of the building at the corner of Bringhurst St. and Clinton Dr. The sign tells tale of an application to the TABC to sell mixed drinks at the spot, late at night, under the name of The New Potato. The restaurant space, formerly Taco Loco prior a late-2000’s stint as Nina’s Cafe, sits a block east of the Harris Machine Tools facility, a block south of a field of townhomes, and a block north of the 136-acre former KBR site, tagged a few years back for use as a helicopter landing spot.

The bar-to-be’s current grey-and-white color scheme came about back in 2013. Here’s a peek back in time at the the bright orange Taco Loco days, followed by the turn-of-the-decade Nina’s yellowing:

CONTINUE READING THIS STORY

Clinton at Bringhurst
03/23/16 10:30am

TABC Notice at 1916 Baldwin St., Midtown, Houston, 77002

A notice of a TABC application, requesting permission from the agency to serve mixed drinks and stay up late, is now up by a door of the 1930s house-turned-office-building at 1916 Baldwin St. The 2-story home, which was remodeled as office spaces in the early 2000s, is currently listed as the home of D’Olive Law Firm, the Texas Passport Center and Bibby, McWilliams, & Kearney, among the latest in a string of law-minded businesses to inhabit the space 1 block north of Gray St.

The bar-to-be sits between the condos at 207 Pierce St. and the RISE Lofts and Edge condo complexes across Baldwin; the Camden City Centre apartments hedge in the parking lot from the north. The space is also just across Pierce St. from Komodo Pub, another house-gone-bar tucked back a block from the restaurant-filled stretch of Gray to the south.  The building changed hands in early January; the TABC permit notice, naming Basilio Investments as instigator, is hanging to the right of that side entrance visible left of the oak tree nearest to the parking lot — here’s a closer look:

CONTINUE READING THIS STORY

Taking the Bar on Baldwin
03/04/16 4:30pm

Proposed Mellow Mushroom, 1919 N. Shepherd Dr., Houston Heights, Houston, 77008

A reader notes a notice of an application to sell alcohol posted on the door of the former Dealer Sales building at 1919 N. Shepherd Dr. The HBJ reported last August that Atlanta-based pizza-and-recently-burger chain Mellow Mushroom leased the space at the corner with 20th St. from serial redeveloper Braun Enterprises. The chain, which dropped its first Houston-area spore up in Spring, appears to be sprouting its second location within the somewhat ambiguous boundaries of the Houston Heights’ nominally dry zone.

The pizza place may provide more savory counterbalance to the sugar-laced shopping strip just to the south on the same block — where Fat Cat Creamery, Hugs & Donuts, and Smoothie King all nestle in with Finch Properties and hair salon Black Sheep Parlor along 19th St., sheltered by N. Shepherd-facing Ka Sushi. Renderings released last year for the redeveloping building show the Mushroom popping open in line with some additional retail space; the strip could also get lawyered up:

CONTINUE READING THIS STORY

Sober News on N. Shepherd
03/03/16 2:15pm

Canyon Cafe, 5000 Westheimer, Galleria, Houston, 77056

Canyon Cafe, 5000 Westheimer, Galleria, Houston, 77056

The Houston location of Canyon Cafe in the Galleria area appears to be closed. A reader sends photos from this morning of locked doors and a leasing sign from Weingarten Realty in the shopping center at the northwest corner of Westheimer Rd. and Post Oak Blvd. The location’s phone number seems to be out of service; also out is serving alcohol, as the restaurant made today’s list of the latest TABC permit delinquencies.

Meanwhile just across Post Oak Blvd., Sports Authority is now sporting signs advertising clearance sales ending May 7th, in the wake of yesterday’s announcement that the chain had gone through with bankruptcy filing and that 140 stores would close in the coming 3 months.

CONTINUE READING THIS STORY

Galleria Groundings
03/01/16 10:15am

First Church of Christ, Scientist, 1720 Main St., Downtown, Houston, TX 77002

First Church of Christ, Scientist, 1720 Main St., Downtown, Houston, TX 77002A new gig appears to be on the horizon for the turquoise-and-concrete Christian Science church at 1720 Main St. A notice announcing an application for a TABC license for the spot is up at the site; the license is being sought by an entity under the name of 1720 Main Reception Hall. Attached to that name, in the public notice for the application, is another: Salim Dehkordi (of nightclub Clé Bar down the road at 2301 Main) is listed as president, secretary, and treasurer.

The Houston chapter of the American Institute of Architects put in a bid on the space back in January, hoping to use the sci-fi Brutalist building as their new headquarters. The organization purportedly lost out to a cash buyer asking for no due diligence period, spurring suspicions that the structure would be torn down. It seems, however, that the building will be maintained in some form by its next owners (though there could be a very different set of activities going on beneath that geometric gold spire).  A new setup for the interior might be on the horizon as well:

CONTINUE READING THIS STORY

Getting Saved Downtown