01/29/18 12:45pm

The newly built shopping center on the corner of W. Alabama and Mandell St. is of the business in the front, parking in the back variety — and will soon be even more so when 2 restaurants and a dentist’s office open in its ground floor. BuffBurger, new Vietnamese restaurant Lúa Viet Kitchen, and Lovett Dental are all slated to debut in the gray box with what look like wooden slats on its forehead, under construction since last January opposite the Menil’s territory in Montrose. TABC signage now up in BuffBurger’s window near the corner shows that the store — on its way to Mandell Place from its original location on Wirt Rd. — is seeking beverage permits ahead of its first business day.

A view from the sidewalk shows where the ground floor beef joint will fit in a 2,500-sq.-ft. space below the strip’s lettered-up corner tower:


New Fillings
01/26/18 4:30pm

The lights are off and the gas station signs have come down from the 2,770-sq.-ft. building formerly home to Doc’s Motorworks Bar & Grill on the corner of Westheimer and Graustark St. The nighttime photo above shows the auto-themed Montrose restaurant before it closed down at the end of last year.

Underneath the restaurant’s sign on Westheimer, the rusted flatbed truck has also hit the road from its long-term parking spot:


A Montrose Goodbye
01/25/18 11:30am

A Swamplot reader sends photos of the now see-through drive-thru signage on the north side of Burger King’s former building at 1002 Westheimer, across the street from the Westmont Shopping Center home to Spec’s, Half Price Books, and a Mattress Firm. The restaurant abdicated earlier this week. Yesterday morning, surveyors showed up to look around the property, leaving behind the wooden marker shown at the bottom of the image at top.

Another shot from the fast food lane adjacent to Blacksmith looks toward the restaurant’s parking lot on California St.:


01/11/18 4:00pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: DIDN’T MEAN TO STOP AT PJ’S SPORTS BAR THAT NIGHT “Love the ‘he forgot his bumper’ story, but it’s not true. I was driving my S4 eastbound on W. Gray, and the Ford apparently ran the stop sign at Stanford northbound and knocked me across the road and into PJ’s. My car was smashed on both ends and definitely could not be driven. Maybe the cops towed it promptly — I was busy bleeding on the lawn and talking to witnesses as I waited on an ambulance. Two nights in the hospital, but I’ll be fine.” [Stefan, commenting on The New Audi-Sized Hole Drilled into PJ’s Sports Bar on W. Gray Last Night] Photo: Swamplot inbox

01/08/18 3:30pm

A car gunning for PJ’s Sports Bar on the corner of W. Gray and Stanford St. ended up inside the bar’s front patio last night. Nobody was seriously injured after a traffic mix-up between a Ford and the Audi pictured above sent the sports car sailing into the sports bar at around 11 PM last night. PJ’s was closed at the time.

The Ford came to a stop upside down, in between 614 W. Gray and its neighbor — Cecil’s Pub:


A Front Porch Welcome
01/08/18 1:30pm

Is the site of shuttered gay bar Montrose Mining Company destined to become a parking lot for nearby restaurant Baba Yega Cafe? The new owner of Baba Yega, developer Fred Sharifi, bought the 39-year-old bar on the corner of Pacific and Grant streets from longtime proprietor Charles Armstrong last month. When the bar closed in 2016, Armstrong said he was working on plans to bring a new restaurant to the building within 18 months. A sign posted on the door of 805 Pacific St. now directs would-be patrons to one of Armstrong’s other hangouts across Pacific — JR’s Bar & Grill. Above that flyer, a notice from the city dated December 14 — 2 days after the 2,809-sq.-ft. building was sold — tells its owners to stop all unpermitted plumbing and structural work on the site.

Sharifi has now purchased at least 5 Montrose properties within the last 2 years, including Baba Yega, Montrose Mining Company, and 3 sites slated to be part of a project he’s developing on Fairview Ave.one of which was home to Armstrong’s nightclub Meteor. In addition to his projects in Montrose, Sharifi also owns Hungry’s Cafe in Rice Village.

Armstrong still appears to own a vacant, 6,648-sq.-ft. property that wraps around the east side of Montrose Mining Company:


Old Gay Bars of Avondale
12/15/17 11:30am

A flyer put out by Braun Enterprises indicates that the Harp Irish Pub’s spot at 1625 Richmond Ave is available for lease. A partnership controlled by Braun bought the decked-out bar along with its 3 eastern neighbors (at that time Orange Bar, Maria Selma Mexican Restaurant, and Lucky Burger) in 2011. Since then, Lucky Burger was replaced by Oui Banh Mi on the corner of Richmond and Mandel St., Orange Bar ceded its space to Revelry on Richmond, and Maria Selma reopened — then closed — as Texas Shrimp Shack.

Texas Shrimp Shack’s vacant lot at 1617 Richmond, right next to the Harp, is also up for lease.


Castle Court
12/05/17 3:30pm

There’s nothing left standing at Michelangelo’s Restaurant since its demolition yesterday — except for the tree that used to grow in its dining room, visible in the photo at top. The restaurant’s days had been numbered since March, when its owners sold the building and adjacent parking lot on Westheimer to a developer with plans to build a gym-anchored strip center.

The gym will be Houston’s first Spenga fitness studio, brought here by a Chicago-based chain that signed a 4,011-sq.-ft. lease for the replacement building’s entire second floor back in June. Here it is up above street level:


11/20/17 2:00pm

The metal dome situated street-side at the Annunciation Orthodox Cathedral on the corner of Yoakum and Kipling for just under a month has been lifted and installed atop the church’s sanctuary. The photo at top shows the dome in its earthly state just over a week ago. Members of a crowd that watched its ascension early Saturday morning snapped pictures showing the half-sphere, now sheathed, being placed via crane on top of the metal dock that now exalts it:


Annunciation Orthodox
11/01/17 4:15pm

Now sitting near the corner of Yoakum Blvd. and Kipling St. in place of the electronic sign for Annunciation Orthodox Cathedral: framework forming the new dome that will soon be mounted atop the structure’s sanctuary. The steel half-orb, meant to cap off a $12.5 million cathedral renovation and expansion project, has been under construction streetside since at least last week, as these pics submitted by Swamplot readers show:


Annunciation Orthodox
10/30/17 4:15pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: WE TRIED THAT NO PARKING REQUIREMENTS THING BEFORE, IN AVONDALE “The urban fantasists who don’t believe in minimum parking should school themselves on the economic concept of the free rider and the common law concept of nuisance. They should also research a little of the history behind Houston minimum parking requirements. These regs did not emerge in a vacuum. I lived in Avondale, in Montrose, during the nineties, when it was home to no less than nine bars, multiple restaurants, and other adult businesses, all without parking and no parking requirements. Houston minimum parking requirements arose because of what was going on in Avondale and a few other neighborhoods inside the Loop. The patrons of these bars and restaurants did not and still do not live within Avondale. They all drove to Avondale because there was and is still no other way to get there. The bar owners did not provide parking, choosing instead to impose the costs of their patron parking on the city and the residents of Avondale (free rider). The patrons parked, imbibed, and then proceeded to be drunken asses all night disturbing the peace of the neighborhood (nuisance). Forcing the business owner to bear the costs of patron parking shifts the costs back to the business which benefits from the patronage. It is a reasonable requirement. It also alleviates the nuisance issue by keeping the drunks off the property of other businesses and residences.” [Jardinero1, commenting on Comment of the Day: What Parking Requirements for Bars Really Encourage] Illustration: Lulu

10/27/17 1:30pm

Here’s the other new purveyor of brownish fluids at the corner of Richmond Ave and Woodhead: The 13th area Take 5 Oil Change — and the chain’s fifth location in Houston proper — is now open for business, a few steps ahead of the adjacent new Starbucks. The building takes the place of a pair of 2-story brick 4-plexes at 1823 and 1827 Richmond torn down last year.

Take 5’s leaky-oil-can logo will greet drivers lined up for the Starbucks drive-thru, as this site plan shows:


Now Open and For Sale
10/26/17 4:15pm

The mocha-colored drive-thru Starbucks that’s been brewing at 1801 Richmond Ave. since its predecessor building was torn down in January now appears just about ready to serve. Landscape crews are plopping in plants on the Richmond Ave. side; this view taken from an upper floor of the nearby Fairmont Museum District Apartments shows how the new building looks nestled next to its notable neighbors, which include the Big Tex Storage facility and King Cole liquor store across Richmond and Mexican restaurant La Tapatia just across Woodhead:


Montrose Drive-Thru
10/25/17 1:45pm

An intrepid mattress-store-monitoring reader notes that the Mattress 1 One (yeah, that’s how the company spells it out) in the northernmost spot of the strip center at S. Shepherd and W. Alabama across from CVS has closed down. Desperate mattress seekers need not worry, though: Plenty more outlets are available to pick up the slack. A note taped to the front door of the spot at 3101 S. Shepherd Dr., which despite the prominently placed Kensinger Donnelly FOR LEASE signs on the space insists that the location is only “closed for renovation,” directs would-be customers to the chain’s nearest still-open store: a full 3 blocks north on Shepherd, just south of Westheimer.

If that location doesn’t work for you, the Texas-and-Florida mattress chain lists a total of 16 Mattress 1 One locations within a 5-mile radius — though that includes the still-listed Shepherd-and-Alabama spot. And don’t forget competitor Mattress Firm, which has 18 locations of its own within that same area.

Photos: Margo