03/17/17 11:00am

Hot Bagel Shop at 2015 S. Shepherd Dr., Vermont Commons, Houston, 77006

Former Hot Bagel Shop on S. Shepherd Dr., Vermont Commons, Houston, 77006The long predicted southerly shift of The Hot Bagel Shop has come to pass: a banner above the endcap of the wavy new commercial strip at 2015 S. Shepherd Dr. proclaims the spot now open, and the old location is all wrapped up in white paper and cardboard. The far corner on the first floor of the new shopping center — purportedly part 1 of 2 — is occupied by Zen Japanese Izakaya, but the other units in the 2-story structure appear to be, as yet, vacant:

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Fresh Baked on S. Shepherd
03/16/17 3:30pm

6749 Airline Dr., Northline, Houston, 77076

6749 Airline Dr., Northline, Houston, 77076The Kroger Market at the not-quite-intersection of Airline Dr., Parker Rd., and Fulton St. in Northline is shutting down next month, an employee at the store tells Swamplot this afternoon (confirming a rumor from a reader in the vicinity). The store’s last day is planned for April 20th, after which it will cede the area to its nearest grocer competitors: the Food Town just over half a mile up Airline, at the intersection with Little York Rd.; the other Food Town a little over a mile further west down Little York; and the not-quite-an-H-E-B Joe V’s Smart Shop on N. Shepherd Dr., just across I-45.

Behind its cube-on-a-spindle signage, the store sits at the northern end of a classic array of strip mall companions (capped to the south by South Texas Dental, whose space and streetside signpost once belonged to a Blockbuster Video); standing alone at the southeast corner of the center sits El Muelle Seafood & Oysters, housed in a former Taco Bell.

Photos: James T.

Northline Line Drawn
03/14/17 2:30pm

RADIOSHACK TO CLOSE A BUNCH MORE STORES NOW THAT IT’S BANKRUPT AGAIN Map of RadioShack Inventory Close-out SalesThe roster of planned store closings in the wake RadioShack’s déjà-vu declaration of bankruptcy last week now includes 11 Houston-ish addresses, according to the company’s handy filter map of inventory clearance sales. An initial list of this round’s Chapter 11 location casualties, filed in court and published on Friday by Consumerist, limited the roll call of the soon-to-shutter to just 4 strip centers ’round town: the RadioShack on Hillcroft Dr. near Richmond Ave. (between Galaly Furniture and Liberty Income Tax); the one in the Bellaire Triangle (where Best Optometrists used to be); the Rice Village-adjacent Kirby Dr. location, between Creative Blinds and Loan Star Title Loans; and the S. Gessner location near US-59, which shares a strip mall with LA Crawfish, Iglesia de Dios Shammah, and the dental office of Hanh Nguyen.  Back in its heyday, RadioShack once sported some 80-plus Houston stores; the last time the company declared bankruptcy, back in 2015, some 32 of the area’s then-77 locations were initially marked for closure. The number of Houston-area stores remaining, prior to the announcement of this latest wave of goodbyes, was down to the high 20s — putting early estimates of the remaining Houston ‘Shack count down to the mid-teens. [Previously on SwamplotMap of closing RadioShacks (in red): RadioShack

03/09/17 10:45am

3801 Farnham St., Shepherd Triangle, Houston, 77098

3801 Farnham St., Shepherd Triangle, Houston, 77098As a couple of commenters pieced together recently, the original 59 Diner spot at the curvy intersection of Farnham St. and Shepherd Dr. is back up for lease again, after a number of name- and face-changes in quick succession. After a 2-month interlude as El Beso Cantina, new signage and menus were deployed to rebrand the spot as Another Broken Yolk Cafe — which advertised itself online as a non-24-hour spot, though still bearing the tiny 24-Hrs Breakfast dot above the main entrance.

Almost immediately after that, the spot shut down again — another reader grabbed these photos of the building yesterday, noting that the only remaining signage on the site is the dot above the main entrance and the Closed For Remodeling note on the door. The property appears to have gone back on the market for lease around the last week of February, shortly before or after that new signage (shown below, but since removed) was being installed along Shepherd:

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Sticking Around on Shepherd
03/08/17 11:00am

Closed restaurants in 811 Louisiana tunnels, 811 Louisiana St., Downtown, Houston, 77002

Closed restaurants in 811 Louisiana tunnels, 811 Louisiana St., Downtown, Houston, 77002The latest report from Swamplot’s anonymous tunnel correspondent indicates that neighboring Asian fast casual and counter spots Thai Spice and Sidewalk Cafe appear to have both closed in the tunnel beneath 811 Louisiana (also previously and variously known as Two Shell Plaza or 777 Walker. Signage from the building’s management folks went up by the end of February, and the Thai Spice branch’s phone number is now out of service as well. An outdated leasing flier still up on the 811 Louisiana LoopNet page shows the layout of the spaces amid the rest of the tunnel stretch, between the Esperson building and the tower at 611 Walker:

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Out and About Downtown
02/24/17 4:30pm

5922 Richmond Ave., Uptown, Houston, 770575922 Richmond Ave., Uptown, Houston, 77057

The markings left behind by the Key Maps store in the wake of its second move since 2015 are still hanging out this afternoon alongside the leasing notice near the shop’s former place at the east end of the Richmond Avenue Shopping Center strip mall, just east of Fountainview Dr. The Key Maps folks are back inside the Inner Loop again, this time on Durham St. next door to the Dirty Hairy Dog Wash. The most recently former Key Maps location, shown above, has picked up a new neighbor itself since the cartographymonger’s departure: the ex-Subway at the end of the strip is about to reopen as essentialist fried chicken joint Krisp Bird & Batter. A sign on the door says Krisp will be open on Monday: 

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Fried Birdwatching
02/24/17 11:30am

1665 Westheimer Rd., Montrose, Houston, 77006

The equipment for some sort of procedure was noted at the corner of Dunlavy St. and Westheimer Rd. this morning by a reader driving by. Determinedly artsy Australian hair-and-skincare shop Aēsop looks to be setting up in the retail shell left empty by the sudden 2015 evaporation of clothing boutique Duo, located across the street from Café Brasil and Hollywood Food & Cigar to the west and the north respectively.

And the space next door currently hosting American Apparel may be cleared out for a new tenant around the end of April, as well: Following a sale of the twice-bankrupt clothing company’s brand and intellectual property to a Canadian company, all of American Apparel’s US stores may end up closing by then, and part of the company’s production is probably getting outsourced.

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Cosmetic Changes in Montrose
02/22/17 5:30pm

BRAD MOORE AND FRIENDS SNATCH EMPTY BODY OF INVASION ICE HOUSE Invasion Ice House, 823 Dumble St., Eastwood, Houston, 77023 Formerly apostrophe-averse Grand Prize co-owner Brad Moore and his business partners have a new bar now up and running in the work-out-the-kinks, wait-for-the-liquor-license phase. The business, operating under the syllable-rich name Lil’ Danny Speedo’s Go Fly a Kite Lounge, has taken over the space in the 1950s building at 823 Dumble St. (shown here as seen early last year in its then-new alien mural skin). Danny Speedo’s is the latest link in a long chain of bars on the property — most recently including Invasion Ice House, which the Ramos family opened last spring before shutting it down at the end of October. Phaedra Cook reports that Lil’ Danny Speedos is limiting the alcohol menu to beer, wine, and frozen shandies until the liquor permit comes through. [Houston Foodfinder; previously on Swamplot] Photo of former Invasion Ice House at 823 Dumble St.: Swamplot inbox

02/22/17 11:15am

Another Broken Yolk, 3801 Farnham St., Shepherd Triangle, Houston, 77098

Some time between the morning and evening rush hours yesterday, says a reader, the new sign above for Another Broken Yolk Cafe went up at 3801 Farnham St., the original location of the 59 Diner chain prior to its lawsuit-clouded closure. The building adopted the persona of optionally halal Tex-Mex and pancake joint El Beso Cantina for a brief interlude starting around Christmas, after which the building’s “Eat Here!” dot was redone to read “24 Hrs Breakfast.” The website for the latest redo, however, currently lists the restaurant’s hours of operation as 7am to 10pm.

The building’s exterior has had a bit of a makeover since 59 Diner’s departure: the chrome and teal went more brick, yellow, and red for El Beso’s brief tenure, though other elements (like the BREAKFAST LUNCH DINNER labels) have remained in place. A teal hole can be spied where some El Beso signage hung until recently, in the same over-the-doorway spot previously occupied by the bubble-gum pink 59 logo:

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Flipping Breakfast Concepts
02/21/17 4:00pm

7200 Main St., TMC, Houston, 77030

The sign above announcing the proposed abandonment of the short dead-end stretch of N. Braeswood Blvd. running east of Main St. was captured in situ by a reader over the weekend. The roadway currently serves as the access road for the remaining Saint Nicholas School campus, though the school is planning to be all moved in at that new facility further south along Main St. in about a year and a half. That’ll free up the landf for whatever might be in the works by shell corporation 7200 Main St., which now owns both the school property and the 8-plus-acre tract north of the N. Braeswood segment, former site of barn-shaped restaurant The Stables.

To the east of the orange-roofed soon-to-be-former Saint Nicholas school, HCC’s  Coleman College for Health Sciences building looks to be just about wrapped up, at least in terms of exterior finishes:

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Medical Center Excision
02/21/17 11:30am

3904 Leeland St., Eastwood, Houston, 77003

Across a parking lot from the stripy blue office of Air Alliance Houston, the 1940s building that has hosted Lee Printing Company since 1970 is now up for lease. The Lee family has closed the printing business, and the current listing for the property says the spot will be available starting in March. Eponymous co-founder Gene Lee (who started the business with his wife Hedy, and spent a decade running Houston’s first English-Chinese newspaper in the mid 70s and early 80s,) retired in 1994 and passed away in 2010. The storefront is being marketed as potential office, retail, or art studio space; Sandy Lee says the family is open to selling some of their old-school Chinese printing equipment, as well. The structure is a block up Hussions St. from Houston Elbow & Nipple Co.’s facility toward the corner with Jefferson St., and about a block south along Hussions from Super Happy Fun Land, which sits around the bend on Polk St.

Photo: Robert Downs

Eastwood End
02/17/17 3:30pm

Former Skinny Rita's at 607 W. Gray St., North Montrose, Houston, 77019

Former Skinny Rita's at 607 W. Gray St., North Montrose, Houston, 77019The large and unambiguous letters now hovering out front of the new North Montrose version of semi-diet Tex-Mex joint Skinny Rita’s are accompanied by a small lockout notice, a rain-spattered reader notes this afternoon. The For Lease By Landlord declarations have replaced the restaurant’s logo on both sides of the freestanding sign on the property at 607 W. Gray St. (across the road from now listed as in-contract Cecil’s Pub); another banner is hung on the fence facing the restaurant’s parking lot, in view of the Skinny Rita’s logo still up on the side of the building:

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North Montrose Lockup
02/10/17 4:45pm

Urban Bricks Pizza Co., 5650 West Grand Parkway South #100, Richmond, TX 77407

The finishing touches have been applied to the first Houston-area outpost of Urban Bricks Pizza Co., in time for the location’s end-of-January grand opening. The Boerne-based pizza place has squeezed in next to Zesty Cleaners and James Avery in the newest piece of the growing strip center puzzle known as the Shops at Bella Terra, itself sandwiched between the Lakes of Bella Terra and Parkway Lakes subdivisions south of the EZ TAG-only intersection of Westpark Tollway and the Grand Parkway. The most recent add-on to the center is near the bottom left corner in the detention-pond-spangled siteplan below:

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Lakeside Pizza Views
02/01/17 11:30am

Rice Box, 300 W. 20th St., Houston Heights, Houston, 77008

Rice Box, 300 W. 20th St., Houston Heights, Houston, 77008The Chinese chicken takeout swapout at 300 W. 20th St. is now more or less complete, as of the space’s soft opening on Saturday (just in time to celebrate the Lunar New Year, which kicked off, as it happens, the start of the year of the rooster). The restaurant’s official kickoff is planned for this weekend, the day before the Super Bowl. Rice Box owner John Peterson told the Chronicle years ago that the now-catering-only food truck was loosely inspired by the movie’s White Dragon noodle shop; the new restaurant’s prominent neon signage and dense Asiatic business district patio mural offer a more overt visual cue. (Incidentally, Peterson isn’t the only person interested in ushering in the movie’s dystopian aesthetic for culinary purposes — celebrity food guy Anthony Bourdain is reportedly working on a whole Blade Runner-themed food marketplace on a pier in New York.)

Interior renovations include the addition of several beer taps, in line with that TABC permit notice spotted last year (though some of the taps reportedly dispense nitrogenated tea.) Here’s a look from W. 20th St. at the refurbished exterior, and the building’s new side patio:

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Heights Chicken Switch
01/24/17 12:30pm

Yale St. at I-10, Heights, Houston, 77007

The crossing of Yale St. over White Oak Bayou is open again as of yesterday, beating that initially announced estimated reopening date by close to a year. The new structure should reduce the chronic weight anxieties of those using the crossing, which has been subject to various pounds-per-axle limits for years.

And what of the original 1931 Yale St. bridge bricks, and their fundraising Friend group?  The online component of the crowdfunded save-the-bricks campaign launched last year fell short of that $100,000 goal by more than a bit, but the organization says that pretty much all of the bricks are still being preserved — most of them were just bought by someone else, for incorporation into a not-yet-officially-announced “art-centered mixed use project in First Ward.” Boulevard Realty, headed by Bricks and Fountain Friend and instigator Bill Baldwin, also recently posted a photo purportedly showing the incorporation of some of the bricks into new segments of the White Oak Bayou greenway trail, something the crowdfunding effort helped pay for:

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White Oak Crossing