04/11/17 11:00am

1410 W. Mt. Houston Rd., Charleston Gardens, Houston, 77038

The current pallor of the departed Whataburger #292 (on Mt. Houston Rd. between the Veterans Memorial Dr. Fiesta shopping center and the Templo Aposento Alto) offers a stark, ethereal contrast the structure’s previous traditional getup of What-a-Orange stripes. The restaurant has stood in the spot since the early eighties, surrounded by a heavy salting of auto garages and related businesses; it appears to have been operational through at least November of last year before blanking out. Will the peaked bones of the fast food joint be reanimated to new purpose? Or is the new coat of whitewash merely a shroud, applied before the building is allowed to rest in pieces at last?

Photos: Swamplot inbox

Late Fast Food on W. Mt. Houston
04/10/17 4:30pm

TACOS A GO GO IS A GO BENEATH DOWNTOWN Tacos a Go Go at 910 Louisiana Ave., Downtown, Houston, 77002Tacos A Go Go’s latest location is currently being set up in the tunnel spot beneath soon-to-be-Shell-free One Shell Plaza at 910 Louisiana St. The permitting process for the remodel of the space (centered roughly between branches of Murphy’s Deli, Starbucks, and the People’s Trust Co-op) kicked off late last year, around the time Tacos a Go Go’s third location opened in the now-thoroughly disguised former Roznovsky’s Hamburgers spot in Garden Oaks. The company’s website currently says the fourth spot’ll open Downtown later this month, operating on breakfast and lunch taco hours (from 7 to 3). [Previously on Swamplot; tunnel coverage] Image of One Shell Plaza leasing flier: LoopNet

04/06/17 3:15pm

THE TUNNEL BENEATH THE DEAD CHRONICLE BUILDING IS NOW OPEN AGAIN Capitol Tower Tunnel MapManagement for 717 Texas (or Calpine Center, if you’re less of a fan of numerically-forward tower vernacular) just sent out word that the tunnel from that building to Chase Tower at 600 Travis St. is now open again. The route takes a turn beneath the pretty-much-done demo of the newly former Houston Chronicle headquarters, evidently still slated by Hines for surface-lotdom for now — plus whatever work the folks next door have planned below ground to tie their own development into the tunnel network. Meanwhile, another block southwest down the same tunnel system (as visible in the 90-degrees-or-so rotated schematic above), Skanska has just signaled the go-ahead on the above-ground section of its Capitol Tower; no word yet on whether that construction will have another round of tunnel closure associated with it. [Previously on Swamplot] Map of Downtown tunnel connections: Skanska

04/04/17 2:30pm

Ragin' Cajun tunnel location beneath 930 Main St., Downtown, Houston, 77002

Ragin' Cajun tunnel location beneath 930 Main St., Downtown, Houston, 77002Ragin’ Cajun, likely Downtown’s most subterranean crawfish vendor, is packing up and crawling out of the tunnels beneath the McKinney Place Garage at 930 Main St., a reader notes this week. (That’ll leave its French-Quarter-evocative retail space open for more underground restaurant turnover; the garage most recently saw the swapout of a Prince’s Hamburgers branch for Time for Thai, amid other nearby culinary tunnel shuffles). The shop’s other locations are still open, per signage left behind at the scene.

Photos: Dave

Crawfish Digout
03/29/17 2:30pm

WITH BETTER LUCK TOMORROW, DRY CREEK IS ABOUT TO GET VERY WET LATER THIS MONTH Dry Creek Cafe, 544 Yale St., Houston HeightsThe spot on the corner of White Oak Dr. and Yale St. where Dry Creek Cafe (pictured) closed down last year is expected to open next month as a “neighborhood bar with food that meets restaurant standards.” Proprietors Bobby Heugel (who got his start at Anvil) and Justin Yu (who shut down Oxheart) know a bit about each, respectively. The newly renovated space at 544 Yale will be called Better Luck Tomorrow, they announced today. [Eater Houston; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Andy M.

03/28/17 11:45am

WE’VE REACHED CHAPTER 11 IN THE HUNKY DORY, BERNADINE’S STORY Hunky Dory, 1801 N. Shepherd Dr., Houston HeightsHere’s an update to continuing reports on the financial health of the Treadsack restaurant group, the company behind Heights-area establishments Down House, D&T Drive Inn, Johnny’s Gold Brick, Hunky Dory, Bernadine’s, Foreign Correspondents, and Canard: Mothership Ventures, LLC, an entity owned by Treadsack partner Chris Cusack and — according to Houston Press reporter Craig Malisow, the business entity that operates as Bernadine’s and Hunky Dory — filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection over this past weekend. Foreign Correspondents and its next-door-neighbor bar Canard closed for business in the shopping center at 4721 N. Main St. suddenly at the end of last year; in February, Malisow published a detailed saga of payroll and tax problems behind the shutdown, alleging Treadsack restaurants had become subject to IRS and state liens totaling more than $1.3 million, and that at one point the Texas Comptroller’s office had threatened a seizure of assets at Down House if taxes were not paid. Bernadine’s and Hunky Dory have been operating since late 2015 in a new building constructed for them at the corner of 18th St. and N. Shepherd. Update, 1:30 pm: An investor has filed suit against the owners of Treadsack, the Houston Press now reports. Craig Malisow also notes that the debtor in the bankruptcy filing has been granted funds to pay for the next employee paychecks. Photo: Hunky Dory

03/28/17 10:45am

191 Heights Blvd., Katyville, Houston, TX 77007

191 Heights Blvd., Katyville, Houston, TX 77007Some signage for Starfish is now stuck to the side of the former location of yes-that-Bradley Bradley’s Fine Diner at 191 Heights Blvd. (next to Koehler St.), Heights-area-restaurant cartographer Brie Kelman notes. The aquatic theme, expected to extend to the menu, extends to the interior of the space as well, which Kelman says sports a large fish tank near the entrance. Cherry Pie Hospitality (which also owns Pi Pizza down at the south end of the strip center) says it’s looking for Starfish employees, now, too.

Photo: Brie Kelman (top), Chris S. (bottom)

Diner Goes Cherry Pie
03/27/17 3:00pm

Houston City Club, 1 City Club Dr., Greenway Plaza, Houston

Houston City Club, 1 City Club Dr., Greenway Plaza, Houston

The Houston City Club, best known to passersby as that parking-garage-like building tucked deep in Greenway Plaza across Norfolk St. from Lakewood Church — and to members and guests as perhaps the best indoor tennis venue in the city — will be shutting down forever on June 12th. On the sorta-main-entrance side off City Club Dr. between Edloe and Timmons, the athletic club and event venue has this classic view onto the Greenway Plaza plaza between office buildings Greenway 9 and 11:

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Club Turnover of a Life Time
03/27/17 11:00am

Mascalzone Ristorante Italiano, 1500 Shepherd Dr., Cottage Grove, Houston

The multinational dalliances of the restaurant building at 1500 Shepherd Dr., a parking lot away from the corner of Maxie, have come to an end — for now. The management of the outpost of British restaurant chain Mascalzone Ristorante Italiano announced the closure of the location over the weekend, not long after rumors of the shutdown were reported on Houston Food Finder. According to a post on the restaurant’s Facebook page, the Shepherd location will be “merging” with the still-operating Mascalzone location in the shopping center at 12126 Westheimer Rd., west of Kirkwood and across from the Phoenicia parking lot.

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Arrivederci, British Italian Style
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