09/21/18 12:30pm

A nationwide franchise of about a dozen kids obstacle gyms is bringing its latest location to the new business park in Katy, on Franz Rd. about a mile inside the Grand Pkwy. Its name — USA Ninja Challenge — plays off that of the 10-seasons-old sports entertainment show American Ninja Warrior, on which contestants ages 19 and up race through a series of physical challenges before a live audience.

USA Ninja Challenge serves a younger demographic: Kids 4 to 17 are split into groups with their peers and tasked with scaling things like sloped walls, rock climbing walls, ladders, cargo nets, and peg boards — as well as balancing on slack lines and other easy-to-fall off objects. Six levels of training make up the official curriculum, each containing 27 individual skills for students to check off.

At the 22564 Franz Rd. location — the chain’s first in Texas — it’ll all go down inside the 7,000-sq.-ft. box pictured at top. It’s nestled within the triangular Franz at Elrod complex shown in the map above with north on the right. Classes start just over a month from now, on October 22.

Photo: USA Ninja Challenge. Map: LoopNet

USA Ninja Challenge
09/20/18 11:15am

In the span of just 3 days, the Heights Jack in the Box has closed down and abandoned both its sky- and street-level boxes. The photo above shows the empty store and its parking lot off Shepherd, where a green cherry-picker‘s now the only vehicle present.

The property’s longtime owner — a national real estate firm that owns the land beneath lots of fast food joints — sold it in 2016, which was a transformational year for the rest of the intersection as well. A few months later, Abel Motors left its spot across Shepherd, making way for the Burger Joint that’s now moving in. And on the south side of 20th St., pizza joint Mellow Mushroom and adjacent desert shop Moody Ice opened up — in what used to be Dealer Sales‘ garage and office building.

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The Leftovers
09/18/18 9:45am

Signage is down and a closure notice is up on Blast Fitness’s now-former 3936 N. Shepherd storefront, which lies within the northern portion of the strip that Aldi plans to take over. Pictured above is that portion — just south of Garden Oaks Blvd. — where Yoga Collective and a next-door vacuum shop took off previously to make room for the grocer. Blast’s turf was on the south side of theirs, near where retail signs and parking activity pick back up on the right in the image.

For those in need of a new gym, not to worry: Blast is letting customers transfer their memberships to any location run by its affiliate brand Fitness Connection. The nearest of that chain’s 14 Houston fitness centers? Eight miles away in Greenspoint Mall.

Photos: Dan Bradley

Clearing the Way
09/13/18 4:00pm

The second Ace Hardware liquidation of the week will leave behind a slightly larger hole than the one on Westheimer: 19,930 sq.-ft. as opposed to 18,900. Pictured above is the retail co-op’s Hwy. 6 location in the Providence Plaza shopping center off Bissonnet. Management’s selling off everything it’s got left there now, reports a Swamplot reader. And the post office inside the store has already shut down for good.

Before a few years ago, the storefront entrance looked like a smaller version of Dollar Tree’s next door:

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Retooling
09/13/18 10:45am

 

The mark of Aldi now appears at 9525 Westheimer, smack in the middle of the strip where Batie’s Ace Hardware is going out of business. Liquidation sales began there on Tuesday — reports a Swamplot reader — with the goal of creating an 18,900-sq.-ft. hole in the portion of the building pictured at top, adjacent to Party City.

Currently about half a dozen Aldis are open inside the Beltway, with additional reinforcements scheduled to arrive soon.

Photo: Swamplox inbox. Map: Brixmor

Westheimer Near Gessner
09/12/18 9:30am

That’s El Rancho’s signage taking the place of Randalls’ in the photo above — which views the Keegan’s Meadow shopping center from the north along W. Bellfort. At 53,200 sq.-ft., the new Stafford store will be slightly bigger than El Rancho’s one other Houston location, opened along I-45 just inside the Beltway in June. There, all the typical grocery standards are present, along with a butcher shop, seafood counter, produce section, and bakery. Plus, there are some extras: a tortilleria and in-house Latin-American-style kitchen.

Two more El Ranchos are in the works, too: the first further up the North Fwy. on the outskirts of Spring, and the other in the old Oak Forest Randalls, gone from 34th St. since earlier this year.

Photo: Dennis Scipio

Supermarket Goes Supermercado
09/07/18 3:30pm

It used to just be a buck, until “about 10 years ago it went to $2,” writes a moviegoer. By then the theater had already been around for decades in the back of its namesake Wind Chimes Shopping Center at Westheimer and Eldridge — once the setting itself of a movie shot by a local production company. Following roughly 40 years there, “It was just about the last dollar movie open in Houston,” the former patron declares. (Still around, notes the sign, is the North Oaks Cinema 6 at FM 1960 and Stuebner Airline — where the same owners will sell you a $2 ticket to see any of 8 selections right now.)

What that price got you at Windchimes: admission to feature films that hadn’t quite made it to DVD yet after finishing up their time in first-run theaters. And on top of that, arcade games:

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Cut!
09/07/18 10:45am

BURGERIM KEEPS ON PLURALIZING WITH ROYAL OAKS VILLAGE LOCATION A new, Chiptole-adjacent location of Israeli burgers chain Burgerim is making its mark on paper and in person at the Royal Oaks Village shopping center building closest to Westheimer. Although the restaurant’s website lists its address there as 11815 Westheimer Rd., that number is reserved for the H-E-B that anchors the retail complex. 11805 is where signage bearing its Hebrew-suffixed moniker is visible now, in the window of Suite 340. Upon opening, it’ll join a handful of recently-opened Burgerims operating outside 610 as far-flung as Cypress. [Previously on Swamplot] Map: Brixmor

09/06/18 2:30pm

A sign spotted up on the chain’s East End location (pictured at top) by a thrifty Redditor informs customers that the last 2 Sand Dollar stores will be closing at the end of this month, bringing an end to the retailer’s 37-year run. Both the 7018 Harrisburg Blvd. and 1903 Yale St. stores are now in clearance mode: All purchases over $20 (before tax) are half-off.

Down in Pasadena, the 2535 Spencer Hwy. store has already been emptied:

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Everything Must Go
08/31/18 2:45pm

Note: The neighborhood names in this story have been updated.

Arden’s Picture Framing and Gallery bows out of Lancaster Place for a spot in Avondale mid-next-month. It’s been in the brick building pictured above at 1631 W. Alabama St. for 18 years (though the business is more than 3 times that old).

Its new converted house at 239 Westheimer will fit a workshop, design area and gallery space. Previous tenants there have dealt mostly in the insurance and financial realms — with the exception of Smoke Alley, a vaporizer store that split from the 1915 building a few years back.

Photos: Arden’s Picture Framing and Gallery

Picture This
08/30/18 9:45am

Not all items at Katy’s new Daiso will be priced at 100 yen (90 cents), but they should be in the ballpark. The dollar store chain originally set a single price for all items in store when it debuted in Japan, a practice it’s carried over to some Australian locations but not the U.S.

The retailer opens its Mason Park Shopping Center doors tomorrow at 10:05 a.m. in the storefront Aaron’s furniture store left for a spot across the street after Daiso reportedly took over its lease 2 years ago. That’ll bring the Texas Daiso total to 6; the others are all near Dallas.

As for the seventh, it’s already gunning for Lonestar Dancesport’s former digs in the Westchase Shopping Center:

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Turning Japanese
08/29/18 10:15am

HOW POST OAK’S NEW ROOFTOP MOVIE SCREEN PLANS TO GET TEXANS BEHIND IT Tickets sales start today at noon for the first movie to hit the new Rooftop Cinema Club screen atop the Whole Foods BLVD Place garage on October 3: Dirty Dancing. Following a few more blockbusters like Coming to AmericaBack to the Future, and Footloose the London-born chain will begin courting Texans with a home-grown lineup including Rushmore, Reality BitesDazed and Confused, Selena, and The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas (with a showing of Black Panther thrown in there on October 16 just because). At the end of its second week, the theater takes a hard turn out of state with Mel Brooks’ Mike Nicholls’ South Beach feature The Birdcage, only to come back in a big way with Texas Chainsaw Massacre the day before Halloween. [KHOU; previously on Swamplot] Photo of Whole Foods at 1700 Post Oak Blvd.: Dung L.

08/28/18 11:45am

MATTRESS1ONE HAS SHUTTERED IN THE PLAZA ON RICHMOND, ACROSS FROM THE OTHER MATTRESS1ONE The closed location at 5132 Richmond Ave is the younger one: it opened up in 2016 on the north side of the street, opposite the 5129 location that’d already been in business for 2 years. On deck for the empty 6,555-sq.-ft. Plaza On Richmond box indicated above: Amazing Lash Studio. The cosmetic chain has roughly a dozen outer-Loop Houston locations. Map of The Plaza On Richmond: Greenwich Management

08/27/18 9:45am

DACAPO’S DECAMPS FROM ITS 11TH ST. CORNER NEXT MONTH A Friday afternoon Facebook post from the owners of Dacapo’s Pastry Cafe broke the news that they’re closing on September 29 and skipping town for Tahlequah, Oklahoma where they’ll be “retiring a little early” after 14 years in the storefront pictured above. Of all 4 structures at the intersection of E. 11th St. and Studewood — including the catty-corner Ruggles-Green-turned-Bellagreen, along with Liberty Kitchen and Someburger’s longstanding fast-food shack — the bakery is the oldest; it went up shortly after the surrounding North Norhill subdivision filled up with homeowners in the ’20s. Six years after Dacapo’s moved in, its building became part of the pistol-shaped Norhill Historic District. Situated in the district’s southwest corner — at the end of its original commercial center along 11th — it’s one of the few retail structures left over from the neighborhood’s early days. [Dacapo’s Pastry Cafe; neighborhood history] Photo: Dacapo’s Pastry Cafe

08/23/18 3:45pm

Checkout lines at the new 365 by Whole Foods Market stretched about halfway to the back of the store during its opening yesterday as Independence Heights grocery pioneers crowded in to get a first look at the place — the chain’s tenth 365 store since the branding originated in 2015. None of the neighboring tenants are open yet in the adjacent strip center that stretches north along Yale St. But the 30,000-sq.-ft. grocery store’s 2 in-house restaurants are.

Juice Society (signage pictured at top) specializes in liquids while Peli Peli Kitchen deals South African food from this counter-serve spot:

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