04/11/14 12:15pm

Vacant Strip Center, 4122 Willowbend Blvd. at Craighead Dr., Westwood, Houston

Former Carolyn's Bar at Vacant Strip Center, 4122 Willowbend Blvd. at Craighead Dr., Westwood, HoustonCarolyn’s, the dive bar at the corner of Craighead and Willowbend Blvd. across the train tracks from the Willowbend subdivision closed sometime around the end of last month, a reader notes. Back in 2008, the bar at 10711 Craighead Dr. won the Houston Press award for Best Hidden Bar. For years, Carolyn’s (pictured at right, behind the “canopy”) was the sole remaining tenant in the dilapidated but once-stylin’ classic 1959 strip center with vintage details stretched along that corner. Now, reports the reader, it appears the 18,600-sq.-ft. center is entirely empty — despite the remaining sign facing Willowbend for the Fruit of the Spirit Community Church (“Developing Fruitful Lives,” above).


Everybody Out of the Strip Center
04/11/14 10:45am


The restaurant spot at 4319 Montrose Blvd. just south of Richmond Ave (at left in the photo above) that until mid-February was home to Thai Sticks — and was earlier the longtime home of Monica Pope’s Boulevard Bistro — will soon be home to an unidentified new restaurant run in part by Dan and Mark Zimmerman. Four years ago, the Zimmermans turned the restaurant at their parents’ La Colombe d’Or into Restaurant Cinq; they later opened and closed Zimm’s Little Deck in the 610 Richmond spot also owned by their parents (that spot is now home to the Brooklyn Athletic Club).


Replacing Thai Sticks
03/11/14 2:00pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: NEED MORE BARS HIGH IN THE SKY Sky Bar“It’s amazing to me how many people appreciate what Cody’s Skybar offered Houston, while it never seemed to inspire imitators. It’s remarkable how a little elevation can lend so much atmosphere to a place in a flat city like Houston. Even when the weather was hot & humid. It was a delight to hang out on the outdoor patio and enjoy the view. . . .” [Guido, commenting on How the Montrose ‘Skybar’ Building Demo Is Going Down] Illustration: Lulu

03/10/14 1:00pm

Demolition of Office Building at 3400 Montrose Blvd., Montrose, Houston

If it doesn’t look like much of the 10-story building at 3400 Montrose Blvd. has been taken down yet, that’s because you’re looking at it (in the above photo, at least) from the front. Come around to the back side of the boulevard-facing office tower that featured Cody’s and later Scott Gertner’s Skybar on its top floor to see how far the demo has come along:


From the Rear
03/07/14 10:30am

Shepherd Place Office Tower, 2323 S. Shepherd, HoustonWhy would patrons at Rita Wanstrom’s Roaring 60s bar at 2305 S. Shepherd Dr. — just north of Fairview — regularly retreat to the bathroom to put their pants on backwards? In the late 1980s, the site of the nightspot, along with a few neighboring buildings, was replaced with the Shepherd Place office tower pictured above (an enterprise that reportedly bankrupted former governor John Connolly and a few other investors in the project). But back in the uh, roaring sixties, the bar was a famed lesbian hangout — subject to regular police raids focused on female zipper placement.


Lesbians in the Roaring 60s
02/24/14 11:00am

LATEST EXPLETIVE-LADEN, LANDLORD-BLAMING, BAR-CLOSING TIRADE COMES FROM THE USUAL The Usual, 5519 Allen St., Cottage Grove, HoustonCottage Grove lesbian bar The Usual shut down its patio-by-the-railroad-tracks location last week, and marked the occasion with a Facebook announcement declaring enough was enough: “We planned on remodeling but our landlord refused to pay for all the roofing and electrical needs (as most of you know was much needed) . . . we decided to say fuck it and we will do it and make The Usual look better than ever . . . but then we got news that our renewal would double our rent and our landlord is such a dick he knows we can’t afford that and he is so greedy and wanting to sell the property and could not because we were still there, he knew he had to get us out . . . well . . . we fought and fought but unfortunately had to make the decision to move . . . we will be absent for a short while but will return soon and can’t wait to see all of you!” A mysterious post on Yelp from a first-time reviewer points to an alternative — or perhaps additive — explanation for the sudden closing of the bar at 5519 Allen St., facing onto T.C. Jester: a TABC license that had expired at the end of last November. A more recent Facebook posting declares The Usual is “On the hunt for our NEW location!!! Only going bigger and better!!” [The Usual on Facebook, via Culturemap] Photo: LoopNet

12/23/13 11:15am

AND YET ANOTHER BAR IS COMING TO MAIN ST.’S HAPPENING 300 BLOCK 312 Main St., Downtown HoustonThe stretch of Main St. downtown between Prairie and Congress that’s been nominated for the Ground-Floor Retail Award in this year’s Swampies will soon have another bar to add to its growing collection. A food-and-mixed-drinks establishment named Bar Materia — at least that’s the proposed name — is planned for the spot shown at left at 312 Main. Last week, the folks behind Anvil, Hay Merchant, and Underbelly announced plans to open The Nightingale Room a couple doors down at 308 Main St., downstairs from Captain Foxheart’s Bad News Bar & Spirit Lodge. [Swamplot inbox; Eater Houston] Photo: Downtown District

10/08/13 11:00am

DOWNTOWN’S LITTLE DIPPER WILL BE VISIBLE THIS SATURDAY Now there’s an astrological sign on the window foretelling all the boozing to come: Eater Houston’s Darla Guillen reports that the owners and operators of hipster havens Antidote, Poison Girl, and Black Hole are preparing to open their latest venture, Little Dipper, at 304 Main St. Downtown “in the weeks to come.” And if you can’t wait that long, Guillen adds that the bar will be open for a few hours this Saturday for a preview party. [Eater Houston; previously on Swamplot] Photo: @LittleDipperBar

10/03/13 1:00pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: CLUB SOME TIME AGO “Wow . . . far cry from the Emo’s and Club Some days that were housed on the first floor. Anyone remember the algae stricken pool as well as skateboard half pipe that was in the courtyard? Or better yet, the outdoor bathrooms that had no doors and long lines . . . shy guys need not apply. Those were the days. [AmyHM, commenting on A Serene Single Bedroom in an Un-Orphaned Villa Serena] Illustration: Lulu

09/27/13 11:00am

The owner of Hughes Hangar is building another bar about 50 ft. away on Washington Ave. Culturemap reports that the De Gaulle, rendered here with old-timey airplane, will share the property at 2811 Washington that backs up against the Washington and Glenwood Cemeteries. Owner Bien Tran explains to Culturemap that the concept’s name, design, and accoutrements, all right across Rue Washington from that recently opened Sonic, “will create an old world Parisian atmosphere complete with a miniature Eiffel Tower.” Opening night will be Halloween, Tran hopes, following an Edgar Allan Poe theme party.

Wanna see a rendering of the interior?


09/17/13 5:00pm

A reader has spotted some signs hanging on the fence outside 4003 Washington near Leverkuhn, where the Guadalajara Bakery used to be: The slick one in the photo above for La Roux, and another just a few feet away indicating that La Roux has applied to sell alcohol. County records show that the 1930 4,368-sq.-ft. building at 4003 Washington and 2 nearby vacant lots — the 5,100-sq.-ft. one at 4011 Washington, and the 28,045-sq.-ft. one at 4015 Washington — are all owned by Kaplan Kalan Properties.


08/14/13 3:30pm

SAY HOWDY TO THE LARGEST GAY COUNTRY BAR IN TEXAS Lamenting the closing of Brazos River Bottom in Midtown, the new owners of the 1955 Esquire Ballroom — where a young Willie Nelson, among other country crooners, cut his teeth — say they are restoring the vacant dancehall and saloon and will be opening on August 24 what they claim is the largest LGBT country bar in Texas. At 11410 Hempstead Hwy. in Spring Branch, the 10,000-sq.ft. building is now named Neon Boots and, according to a press release, is being renovated to include a “huge dance floor and performance stage, six bar stations, table service, [and an] expansive outdoor area with deck and patio. The owners also anticipate installing a mechanical bull.” [Neon Boots; previously on Swamplot] Photo of Esquire Ballroom: West Houston Archives

08/06/13 4:00pm

Swamplot commenter drlan34 reports (and that Dumpster in the photo above would appear to confirm) that a good gutting is going on to renovate the old dive bar Brazos River Bottom into a new restaurant, identified on that yellow permit window dressing as Docks on Brazos. The building here at 2400 Brazos and McIlhenny in Midtown shares a parking lot with the also-being-renovated Bremond Street Grill and backs up against the opened-just-a-few-months-ago Dogwood Houston, a bar paid for by a team from Austin that includes one-time reality teevee hunk Brad Womack and his identical twin brother.

Photo: Allyn West

07/31/13 11:00am

A reader sends this photo from the Washington Corridor: Is Sawyer Park coming back from the dead this September? The 4-year run of the 2-story sports bar with a checkered past at 2412 Washington came to an end in February. But the marquee — plagiarized from that ubiquitous Dos Equis ad campaign though it might be — suggests that something might be happening sometime soon. HCAD data show that the property hasn’t changed hands. Still, there aren’t any clues or further omens on the bar’s Facebook page or Twitter feed, and calls to Rockwood, what appears to be a design-build firm whose sign hangs from the bar’s terrace, haven’t been returned.

Photo: Swamplot inbox

06/11/13 4:45pm

HOW ABOUT WASHINGTON AVE JITNEY RAPID TRANSIT? It’s not as well-designed or well-funded as the Post Oak Bus Rapid Transit that Uptown’s got in the works, but Houston Wave owner Lauren Barrash thinks her jitney service could work for the Washington Corridor in a similar way: Having located about 900 available parking spots in city lots nearby, Barrash is proposing a kind of park-and-ride deal for Washington Ave visitors and employees to get to and from their destinations — and all for a small, even discounted fee. For one thing, Barrash tells Culturemap, it might be safer than walking late at night. But it also might stir things up again after what appears to be a lull in the action ever since those revenue-generating Parking Benefit District meters went into effect in early March. Says Barrash, “There were no cars on Washington at all that first week.” [Culturemap; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Houston Wave via Facebook