01/08/19 11:45am

TIMBERGROVE H-E-B TO CLOSE JUST AHEAD OF SHEPHERD H-E-B’S END-OF-MONTH OPENING January 29 will be the last day of service at the 1511 W. 18th St. H-E-B, reports The Leader’s Landan Kuhlman. And the next day, he writes, H-E-B’s new double-decker location at 2300 N. Shepherd Dr. will open just under a mile away (with legally-offered beer and wine on the shelves). It’s the second 2-story store the grocer has opened in Houston — the first was in Bellaire — and has been in the making between 23rd and 24th streets since late 2017, by which time the block had been devoid of its former Fiesta tenant for over a year. A third H-E-B of the same breed is currently on the rise in Meyerland Plaza. [The Leader; previously on Swamplot] Photo of new H-E-B at 2300 N. Shepherd Dr.: Brandon DuBois

01/07/19 10:15am

Shuttered Rice Village pizza parlor Pizza L’Vino is set to become the second Reach Stretch Studio in Houston and fifth across the greater Houston area: Katy, Sugar Land, The Woodlands, and Memorial branches of the wellness chain are already up and running. A building permit filed last Friday for the 2,100-sq.-ft. storefront at 2524 Rice Blvd. — across the street from Buffalo Wild Wings — indicates conversion work is about to begin.

Pizza L’Vino’s other location has also closed down in the Waugh Dr. shopping center it once shared with competitive axe-throwing venue The Ratchet Hatchet.

Photo: Pizza L’Vino

2524 Rice Blvd.
01/04/19 10:00am

NINTH HOUSTON-AREA SPROUTS DEBUTS IN SUGAR LAND THIS MONTH Workers are putting the finishing touches on the Sprouts Farmers Market inside Sugar Land’s new University Commons Shopping Center off 59, a 150,000-sq.-ft. complex that includes everything depicted in the rendering above, plus a whole extra crop of retailers and restaurants that are already open on the other side of University Blvd. The grocery store’s opening date: January 16, at which time it’ll become the ninth Sprouts store operating in the Houston area (and the only second one in Fort Bend County). About 150 new hires will be on duty inside following a successful job fair Sprouts hosted on December 6 at the Hilton Garden Inn Houston-Sugar Land just up the street in the University Plaza shopping center. [Houston Chronicle] Site plan of University Commons Shopping Center Phase II: Capital Retail Properties

01/03/19 10:15am

This just in from Eater: One of those alliterative spicy chicken spots is now open between Smashburger and Nails By Lily in the standalone retail building across Town Center Blvd. from Sugar Land’s city hall; its name: Porto’s Peri Peri. Note: That’s not to be confused with The Peri Peri Factory — which opened on Westheimer near Hillcroft in April — nor Chick’n Cone, a NYC import that debuted its chicken with peri-peri sauce in the Woodlands in August,” according to Eater’s Alaena Hostetter; nor the Peli Peli Kitchen that opened around the same time inside the new 365 by Whole Foods Market off 610 as spin-off of the more formal Peli Peli sit-down restaurant at The Galleria. (The spelling of their names notwithstanding, both Peli Peli locations still refer to their chicken as peri peri.)

The common ingredient in all authentic peri peri dishes: bird’s eye chili, reports Eater’s Amy McCarthy. According to her, the Portuguese recipe was first brought to the U.S. by Nando’s Peri Peri, a South African chain that started outside Johannesburg in 1987 and now has more than a thousand locations across the globe — but none in Houston. Not to worry though, our local operators plan to continue filling in the gap. Porto’s Peri Peri’s owner told Hostetter in November that he’d follow-up the Sugar Land location with more spots inside and outside the 610 Loop. And Peli Peli’s owner told McCarthy last summer that he planned to start franchising after the new year.

Photos: Nisha B. (Porto’s Peri Peri); Nails By Lily (Nails By Lily)

Porto’s Peri Peri
01/02/19 10:30am

LEAGUE CITY’S LONGHORN CATTLE MUSEUM REOPENS All bovine exhibits at the house-turned-museum-and-events-venue at 1220 Coryell St. are now back on view following months of renovations to address flood damage, reports the Chronicle’s Jennifer Bolton. Opened in 2009, The Butler Longhorn Museum, focuses specifically on the iconic cattle breed and the 19th century efforts of the Butler family, members of which helped save the animals from extinction through work on their land in what’s now League City, Kemah, Friendswood, and a few mainland portions of Galveston County. “While most of the exhibits could be — and were — redone, there were murals painted on the downstairs walls of the museum that had to be torn apart,” reports Bolton. Also out of commission: a separate education building that sits on the same 10 acres as the museum itself. [Houston Chronicle] Photo: Butler Longhorn Museum

12/28/18 10:30am

CANINO PRODUCE WILL CLOSE ON MLK DAY After 60 years in business, Canino Produce is shutting its doors,” reports KTRK. The Houston Farmer’s Market mainstay plans to stick around until January 21 and then vacate its 20,000-plus-sq.-ft. space on Airline Dr., according to its 2 owners. After that, it’ll be MLB Partners’ call what to do with the hole and how to integrate it into the touristy farmer’s market redo it’s had underway since shortly after buying the whole collection of vendors last year. [abc13; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Chris S.

12/26/18 1:00pm

Note: This story has been updated to note that the church is located in Sixth Ward, not First.

In April, the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura — the highest judicial body in the Catholic Church — issued a ruling direct from Rome to the corner of Silver and Center streets, reports the Chronicle’s Lisa Gray: St. Stephen Church, across from Platypus Brewing, would be required to reopen. (It wasn’t until the fall that members of the church found out, though, seeing as “the Vatican doesn’t just post its rulings on the web. Its documents are in Latin, and are not made public,” Gray writes.) The church’s 1941 brick building had been boarded up since closing in 2016, around which time Lovett Commercial — the owner of the strip housing Platypus and neighboring retail — announced plans to redevelop some of St. Stephen’s parking and expressed interest in buying the church itself, according to congregants.

CONTINUE READING THIS STORY

Divine Intervention
12/20/18 10:30am

In just under a month, longtime Richmond Ave record shop and turntable repair destination Sound Exchange will move from the brick house pictured above to a Second Ward spot near the corner of N. Milby and Commerce. The 39-year-old business didn’t originally open in Montrose, but it got there right away: After a one-year stint in Rice Village, it moved to the strip at 1617 Westheimer, where it spent 19 years before relocating to its present digs at 1846 Richmond.

Already in the works for the block where Sound Exchange sits: rejiggering the property lines to create a new 29,466-sq.-ft. parcel out of the lot shown above, plus 2 additional lots behind it on Colquitt St. that house apartments. Houston’s city planning commission is set to review the proposed replat at the beginning of next year.

Photo: Vinylhub

Winlow Place
12/19/18 10:30am

The interior is dark and the patio umbrellas drawn tight at Bagby St. bar Sterling House where there’s been “no business activity for over 2 weeks,” reports a vigilant Swamplot tipster. Absent the drinking crowd, the structure’s gone back to looking a bit more like it did before trading up its run-down domestic existence for entry into the Midtown bar scene in 2016. In order to effect the switch-up, workers gutted and largely reconstructed the building, adding a fire escape onto its south facade and new fencing around its outskirts. They also extended the upstairs porch to hug the entire second-story of the building. (Previously, it ended at the edge of the canopy shown on the left, above the business’s dangling signage.)

The house’s namesake: Ross S. Sterling, co-founder of Humble Oil Company and, later, Governor of Texas from 1931 to 1933. He never actually owned 3015 Bagby St.; members of his family did. And even with the recent renovations, it’s a long way off from that other white house (9 bedrooms, 15 baths) he’s remembered for over in La Porte across the Ship Channel from his Baytown factory.

Photos: Swamplox inbox

3015 Bagby St.
12/17/18 4:45pm

From the tunnels beneath the building formerly known as Two Shell Plaza, a Swamplot reader reports that the McDonald’s has closed. By management’s tally, it had been open down there for 30 years. The photo at top shows the notice that’s been up on the restaurant’s spot since last week.

Photos: Hines (811 Louisiana); Swamplot inbox (flyer)

811 Louisiana
12/17/18 1:30pm

WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN THE MONTROSE SHAKE SHACK OPENS THIS THURSDAY Aside from the standard beefy fare, here’s what you can expect to encounter at the chain’s new Burger-King-replacement location on Westheimer west of Montrose Blvd. when it opens this Thursday: tabletops made from “reclaimed bowling alley lanes,” a mural from local artist Michael Rodriguez (the same guy behind new female astronaut artwork next to Shake Shack’s Rice Village location and the colorful first floor of the former Battelstein’s building downtown), and a free Shake-Shack-themed holiday ornament for the first 100 customers (doors open at 11 a.m.). There are also a few Montrose-specific menu items planned at the 1002 Westheimer restaurant including custards acquired from nearby UB Preserv and less-nearby Fluff Bake Bar, as well as a carrot cake offering served with coffee grounds from the location’s next-door neighbor Blacksmith. [Previously on Swamplot] Photo of construction on Montrose Shake Shack: Swamplox inbox

12/11/18 10:45am

A Swamplot reader writes in to report that the JCI Grill across I-45 from the Home Depot near Gulfgate Mall is now closed. No need to get too close in order to tell; the electronic sign fronting the feeder road gets the message across to highway drivers as shown above. Behind it, you can see the new ramp TxDOT’s been working on to connect 610 eastbound to I-45 northbound — as well as the shadow it’s cast on the restaurant’s parking lot.

A flyer posted on the building says the construction was in part what inspired the closure:

CONTINUE READING THIS STORY

The Dog Days Are Over
12/10/18 5:30pm

A Swamplot reader sends these 2 photos showing what longtime Avondale brunch spot Baba Yega Cafe looks like after a Friday night fire did a number on the building. Damage to the roof has mostly been covered up now by a blue tarp. At ground level, new orange fencing signals the business’s current status: closed until sometime next year, say the owners.

Next-door, scattered debris and furniture are at rest in the parking lot behind the former Montrose Mining Company. Both the Mining Company and its lot are owned by one of the same partners behind Baba Yega, Fred Sharifi, and have remained empty for the past few months while the shuttered gay bar gets reshaped into Houston’s second Postino Wine Bar.

Photos: Swamplox inbox

Avondale
12/06/18 4:00pm

THE MARQUIS II IS GETTING ITS SECOND ENCORE Well, that was fast. After shutting down on Sunday without any timeline for a return, the Marquis II reopened at 2 p.m. on Tuesday, according to a note posted on Facbeook by longtime bar employee Al Jara. According to the Chronicle’s Marcy de Luna, Jara is now the owner of the place, having purchased it from his boss during the 2-day timeout. The last time a Marquis employee pulled a stunt like this, it was a pair of devoted cocktail waitresses who bought the place after the owner, their boss at the time, died in the late ’60s. (Adding “II” to the name was their idea.) In this case the former owner is still alive, just sick of dealing with the sustained construction activity outside the bar on Bissonnet St., which Jara says has cost the business $1.2 to $1.5 million since it began in 2014. “They’ve broken up our parking lot and we are not getting business because people can’t access us,” he tells de Luna. [Houston Chronicle; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Marquis II

12/03/18 12:15pm

A flyer posted on the Marquis II at 2631 Bissonnet yesterday announces that the place is now closed indefinitely, leaving West University almost entirely devoid of bars (except for the one inside the Whole Foods on Bellaire Blvd.). The Marquis II’s predecessor, the Marquis, opened in the then-fledgling River Oaks Shopping Center in 1945. After the bar’s original owner died in the late 1960s, a pair of cocktail waitresses bought it and decamped to Bissonnet and Buffalo Spdwy., where the suffix became part of the venue’s name.

Following a stint at Bissonnet and Weslayan, the bar wound up in its current spot near Kirby in 1985. Houston architect Lars Bang had originally designed the building to house a branch of California donut chain The Big Donut, which it did until the 1970s when a gentleman’s lounge dubbed The Bunny Club blacked out the windows and took over. It left after a fire in the early ’80s, but not entirely: During the Marquis II’s last major remodel in 2011, workers uncovered a painting of a women wearing a low-cut outfit with a bushy tail that had been hiding behind one of the building’s walls, an unmistakable relic of the shuttered strip club. “Although badly charred,” according to the bar’s website, “the painting underwent a little restoration and still hangs proudly on our wall.

Photos: Marquis II

Last Last Call