07/27/17 2:30pm

Here’s a glance at how the now-redone North Shepherd strip center that used to house the Texas Cafeteria is looking this week, about a month before the second-ever location of sandwich joint Krisp Chicken & Batter opens up on the building’s south end. A raised bit of concrete slab seen on the near side of the building in the photo above will form the foundation of a planned dining patio. According to the building’s leasing flyer, a 1,825-sq.-ft. space in the building is still available for lease adjacent to Krisp; the rest of the building will become a Verizon store.

The center at 2400 N. Shepherd Dr. is immediately north of the former Fiesta lot where H-E-B plans to start construction on a new Heights market late this summer.

According to Culturemap’s Eric Sandler, the owners of Krisp are already planning to open additional locations in Memorial, Bellaire, and Downtown in the next few years — and possibly Pearland and Cinco Ranch after that.

Photo: Swamplot inbox

Next Month
07/26/17 4:30pm

SWEET MESQUITE REBIRTHING IN RAGIN’ CAJUN’S ABANDONED UNDERGROUND LAIR BELOW MAIN A sign advertising a new Sweet Mesquite Grill has appeared in the tunnel-facing storefront under the McKinney Place Garage where Ragin’ Cajun shut down a few months ago. The spot below 930 Main St. Downtown is scheduled to open in a month as a Sweet Mesquite do-over. The restaurant in the shopping center at 1570 S. Dairy Ashford near Briar Forest Dr. was a Sweet Mesquite Grill before it became Mesquite Cottage; the new tunnel location henceforth will be the only Sweet Mesquite Grill in town, but is expected to be a bit of a reboot from the original. [Previously on Swamplot] Photo: Swamplot inbox

07/25/17 10:30am

One clue that the Social Junkie Sports Bar has come to the end of its almost-4-year run at the northwest corner of Washington Ave and Sawyer St.: The end-zone-styled valet parking lot pictured in the above recent photo is empty — all the way to the 25-yard line. Another clue: the “It’s been real . . . we outgoodbye notice posted to the establishment’s Instagram feed over the weekend. A reader tells us the place is shuttered and everything inside has been “thrown away.

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Gone Braun
07/14/17 9:15am

MORE HOUSTON RETAIL BREAKUPS: ALFRED ANGELO BRIDAL CALLS IT QUITS Bridesmaid- and wedding-dress store Alfred Angelo appears to be shuttering all 62 of its locations nationwide, amid reports of a possible sudden bankruptcy filing. That would leave the Galleria-area Al’s Formal Wear all alone — it sits next door to the Alfred Angelo Bridal in the strip shopping center at 1801 Post Oak Blvd. It should leave the Al’s Formal Wear in the Baybrook Square shopping center kinda lonely too — it faces the Gulf Fwy. right next door to the Alfred Angelo Bridal at 1201 W. Bay Area Blvd. in Webster. The third Houston-area Alfred Angelo location — pictured above in the Commons at Willowbrook shopping center, across from the Willowbrook Mall at 7550-A FM 1960 West — is a little more sequestered from its tuxedo counterpart: Alfred Angelo sits between a DSW Shoe Warehouse and a Ross Dress for Less; the Al’s Formal Wear is wedged between a Panda Express and a Beck’s Prime on the opposite side of the shopping center parking lot. [abc13] Photo: Alfred Angelo Bridal

07/13/17 10:45am

5 SLIM CHICKENS CAUGHT CROSSING HOUSTON BORDER The Slim Chicken drive-ups in Katy, Cypress, Spring, and Humble will soon be joined by 5 new locations of the restaurant franchise inside the Houston city limits. First up: wings and Texas-shaped waffles will become available at 9850 Louetta Rd. in Vintage Lakes, right by Aldi and just down the street from the fast-food mecca known as Vintage Marketplace. A Kingwood location at 30255 Loop 494 should open later this summer, though it isn’t clear if the Arkansas-based chain is counting that location as one of its 5 genuine Houston spots. [Eater Houston] Photo of the Slim Chicken opened late last year at  9255 FM 1960 Bypass Rd. in Humble: Edwin R.

07/06/17 3:00pm

Actual neighborhood hardware store East End Hardware (see inset second photo) went belly-up only a few years after its 2012 opening at 3005 Leeland St. (at the corner of Ennis St. in East Downtown). Now opened in its place, as of the first of this month, is a replacement (pictured at top): East End Hardware.

Among the changes: a revamped exterior, with the name of the establishment now rendered in vintage Houston blue tile; a dog-friendly patio; and a new beverage menu that includes 20 beers on tap, mixed drinks, and “boozy” New Orleans-style sno-balls in flavors such as piña colada, tiger’s blood, and screwdriver. Also: food.

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EaDo Hard Drinks and Wares
06/29/17 11:00am

THE BRAND NEW LAURENZO’S ON BAGBY ST. IS ALREADY CLOSED Not to be outdone by the sudden departures of the last 2 occupants of the retail spot tucked below the parking garage at 1910 Bagby St., the Laurenzo’s offshoot which opened in the space this past January has now closed indefinitely, a passing reader reports. The eponymous Laurenzo family announced the spot around the start of this year, telling Greg Morago of the Chronicle that they had originally been approached to put an El Tiempo in the space by Landmark Hospitality (the folks behind borderline barbecue breastaurant The Republic Smokehouse & Saloon, which previously occupied 1910 Bagby). The space, just outside the elbow of the Pierce Elevated, sits directly across the street from the former Boyscout office that briefly hosted glitzy steakhouse Mr. Peeple’s (also a Landmark project). [Previously on Swamplot] Photo: Swamplot inbox

06/27/17 2:30pm

The startup 3-barrel “nano-brewery” carving its ferment-and-serve spaces out of the former Bissonnet Auto Service Center garage on Bissonnet St. between Kirby and Greenbriar is scheduled for a Labor Day Weekend opening, according to a recent report in the Chronicle. New glazed overhead doors have been installed in the 2 garage bays, but according to this photo of the spot from earlier today, there’s still a bit of work going on inside.

If future passers-by do a double-take after seeing drinkers out on the front patio of the single-story structure at 2322 Bissonnet, it might be because the brewery-bar will be next door to the former Kay’s Lounge, also a single-story building serving drinks on a front patio, which was demolished last fall. These homes are scheduled to go up on that site.

Photo: Swamplot inbox

06/23/17 10:00am

SOUTHEAST AND SOUTHWEST HOUSTON SEARS STORES GOING SOUTH Included in the latest round of Sears store closings: the mall-anchor locations at the Baybrook Mall (off the Gulf Fwy. at Bay Area Blvd.) and the Westwood Mall (off the Southwest Fwy. at Bissonnet). Liquidation sales are scheduled to begin by the end of this month; the stores will shut down completely by the middle of September. This will bring the the number of Sears Holdings stores scheduled to close this year to 265. [USA Today; Business Insider] Aerial view of Sears at the Baybrook Mall: CBRE

06/15/17 2:30pm

Just opened this week in Re:Vive Development’s new add-on strip center at 721 W. 19th St., just west of Shepherd Dr.: the first Houston outpost of Austin’s Tarka Indian Kitchen chain, a Chipotle-style “fast casual” restaurant serving curries, kabobs, and — yes — naaninis. Next door to diners in the 4,295-sq.-ft. steel-frame building, the new Benjamin Moore Paints store (seen here under construction last year) is also open, a reader reports.

In lieu of a parking-space-and-a-half on the side of the building facing past more parking onto the more sugary part of the center closer to Shepherd (home to Fat Cat Creamery, Hugs and Donuts, Smoothie King, and KA Sushi) is this dusty square, designated for a future patio:

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Tarka Indian Kitchen in the Heights
06/12/17 12:45pm

These portraits of the Valero station at Westheimer and Crescent Park Dr., now largely bereft of its branding signage and its gas pumps, come from a reader on the scene this morning who speculates that the changes “must have happened very suddenly” on or before Saturday. The fencing has ensnared the Royal Oaks Cleaners’ retail spot as well, though that business’s allegiances and pricing are still proclaimed on nearby signage:

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Gas Station Regime Change
05/26/17 3:15pm

A CHECK ON EXPIRATION DATES AMID THE HEIGHTS FOODIE BOOM The restaurantheavy redevelopment of various used car dealerships and auto shops along N. Shepherd Dr. might bring with it some future trouble for the Heights area, Jonathan McElvy suggests in his column for the Leader this week. McElvy worries that too many new spots chasing after trends in the “culinary preferences of Houston’s red-hot foodie community,” (as he notes recently closed-for-re-concepting Heights restaurant Glass Wall described it) may mean that the area is “about to enter a period of constant turnover along our most important corridor.” Noting the startling estimates on how many restaurants close in fewer than 5 years (whether due to lack of business knowledge, bad construction traffic, or sheer bad luck), McElvy writes that while there’s little to be done to curb the popularity of “farm-to-table restaurants that know how to plate a dish but don’t have a clue how to pay franchise taxes on time . . . it is not going to help our community if 1 business opens and another closes every other week.” [The Leader; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Karen S.

05/26/17 11:30am

Perpetually hungering for on-the-scene updates on the ongoing demolition of KPRC’s old broadcast station south of Beechnut St. along the Southwest Freeway? Here’s one means of getting your fix: A construction webcam set up above and nearby is still posting updates on the site every 12-to-13 minutes at all hours of the day and night. The 1972 building is coming down right next door to the station’s newly opened replacement, designed to fit Tetris-style into a handy nook on the back of the original — that’s it wearing a protective blue tarp in the shot above, which was captured around 10:15 this morning. You can even follow the action all the way back to December 2015, before the breakup of the surface parking lot where the new building now stands.

That drone view of the demo that Russell Hancock snagged last week shows a broader view of both building still (mostly) in place together (and makes it marginally clearer why some station affiliates claim the seventies structure was meant to look like an old camera:)

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24 Hour News Demo Cycle
05/22/17 12:30pm

The pointy glass Gardens of Bammel Lane conservatory isn’t the only structure on the block southeast of Bammel Ln. and Earl St. getting picked up and hauled elsewhere as part of the block’s cleanout for the 26-story Villa Borghese condo highrise. A handful of Cherry House Moving trailers were spotted on the site this weekend, hanging around and under several of the bungalows on the block (which date between 1900 and 1950 per the county’s records, and were used most recently as commercial spaces). As of Saturday, the conservatory structure (shown above in wedding attire) had already departed the site (presumably headed for its new home at the Madeley Gardens events space in Conroe).

Some of the bungalows have already been shuffled around on the block. The former law office at 2714 Sackett St. was spotted stripped of its hedge and address markers, with a moving trailer poking out from beneath the front porch:

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Upper Kirby Shuffle
05/19/17 11:45am

The light at the end of the N. Main St. tunnel beneath the Union Pacific Line was obscured for a bit this morning where the northbound side of the road re-emerges into tossed-coffee-cup range of the Burnett Transit Center light-rail stop (atop the topmost overpass in the shot above.) The semi that briefly plugged the hole looks to have scraped its way through the entire length of the tunnel before getting stuck at the northern exit. Transtar pinned the stopup to about 10:38 this morning; not much had changed as of 40 minutes ago (see below), but the road is now marked by professional traffic-watchers as cleared. 

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Yards from Hardy Yards