03/23/17 10:30am

2241 Richmond Ave., Upper Kirby, Houston, 77098

2241 Richmond Ave., Upper Kirby, Houston, 77098

One of the low-slung spots fringing Portsmouth Square (the gravelly picket-fenced space between Portsmouth St. and Richmond Ave. which a reader refers to as “arguably Houston’s worst parking lot”) has been getting worked over for an identity swapout planned to take effect later this month. The former Blue Fish House sushi restaurant, just north of vegetarian- and Lord-of-the-Rings-geek-friendly Hobbit Cafe and facing off with Capone’s Oven and Bar, is now decked out in signage for Rim Tanon, billed by its Richmond-facing banner as a Thai street food joint.

Some of the Blue Fish’s old signage was still visible on the back side of the building as of earlier this week (as seen above), though the space’s hanging placard sign has already been replaced. And the building’s trees-in-the-holes front patio area has been getting a little bit of retooling:

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Tradeoff on Richmond Ave
03/22/17 1:00pm

721 W. 19th St., Houston Heights, Houston, 77008 

Work has moved into the buildout and dressup phase for Phase II of the high-glycemic-index strip center at the corner of W. 19th St. and N. Shepherd Dr., a reader notes during a recent catty-corner oil change. The Benjamin Moore signage spotted around the new second building last year during the site’s flat-slab days is now reflected by buildout permits for the paint store, which should take up about 1,820 sq.ft. of the building’s 4,298. What’ll be filling up the rest of the space? Looks like the leftovers will house Austin export Tarka Indian Kitchen’s first inside-the-Beltway location.

The cameraman also captured a glimpse of Dallas pizzeria Cane Rosso‘s statue of a somewhat confusingly labeled suina rosso, which overlooks the intersection from its browsing position near the parking lot:

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Heights Austinites
03/21/17 2:30pm

Shake Shack planned at 6205 Kirby Dr, Rice Village, Houston, 77005

Rice Village, Houston, 77005The 26th will be the last day of business for the La Madeleine on Kirby Dr. at Amherst St., a rep for the Rice Village District says this afternoon. After that the space’ll get a significant makeover, part of the ongoing de-suburbanization of the 1990s Village Arcade buildings. Changes planned for the space appear to include a total blackout of the corner’s pediments, a gutting of the existing canopy level (paired with a boxy see-through enclosure of that area) and a hip-high hashtag-biscuitpaintwall-style landscaping feature (replacing the existing hedge as Amherst’s walkable zone gets widened). The company says the burger place should be ready to open sometime around November.

Images: Rice Village District (rendering), Swamplot inbox (photo)

Kirby Corner Shake-Up
03/20/17 5:45pm

Blalock Market at I-10 and Blalock Rd., Spring Branch, Houston, 77055former East West Bank at 1027 Blalock Rd. B0A, Spring Branch, Houston, 77055A branch of Taiwanese pastry chain 85˚C Bakery Cafe looks to be headed to the strip center endspot right next to the 99 Ranch Market at the intersection of Blalock Rd. and I-10. A permit to remodel the former East West Bank branch into a bakery was issued in December; Weingarten now has the shop listed in on its own leasing materials for the strip center (marked down for the spot closest to the grocery store, in the siteplan above).

Meanwhile, Eater Houston’s Amy McCarthy made note of a note of a coming soon banner for the chain over somewhere over in Chinatown this morning; the company has also been posting job listings since last fall for Houston-area warehouse positions, so multiple stores could well be in the works.

Images: Weingarten Realty (top); CBRE (bottom)

Spring Branch Branches
03/20/17 11:15am

1318 Westheimer Rd., Montrose, Houston, 77006

Just in time for the spring equinox, a reader sends shots of some recent trimming back at the former home of Royal Oak Bar & Grill, which may soon sprout a 2-story patio if permits issued over the last few months tell true. The bar and restaurant (right across Westheimer Rd. from the Doc’s formerly known as Wendy’s and that long-tarped turret of the Tremont Tower condo building) was closed down last September by owner Shawn Bermudez, who told Eric Sandler he planned to reopen the space under a new name and theme. The late-1950s house (previously converted into dance club Bartini, before the structure’s Royal Oak days began in the early 2010s) has since had its nose cut off; some larger holes on both stories have also been wooded over, over on the parking lot side:

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New Growth in Hyde Park
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
03/14/17 11:30am

Shopping Center at Westheimer Rd. at Montrose Blvd., Montrose, Houston, 77006Shopping Center at Westheimer Rd. at Montrose Blvd., Montrose, Houston, 77006

Swamplot’s elevated tipster with an eye on the Westheimer Rd. scene — just east of the Montrose Blvd. Smoothie King — sends some update shots this morning of the ongoing construction of a planned Ruggles-replacing restaurant-retail combo, half of which looks slated for fill-in by a Velvet Taco branch. The Dallas chain will take over a 1-and-a-half story piece of the center, next to the areas highlighted in orange above; Edge Realty is currently leasing the rest of the space in the center, which will attempt to hide some of its parking from prying sidewalk eyes:

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Grill Gone Gray
03/13/17 5:15pm

Torchy's Tacos sign installation at 10953 Westheimer Rd., Westchase, Houston, 77042

Reader and aerial logo photographer Henry Phillips sends these recent shots of work crews playing pin-the-signage-on-the-restaurant at the next local locale of Austin import Torchy’s Tacos (which will bring the Houston-area count up to 8, out of the chain’s 11 planned plantings so far). The latest tacover is happening in the Westchase Mall corner slot at the southeast corner of Westheimer Rd. and Wilcrest Dr. most recently occupied by another defunct branch of Black-Eyed Pea; the developing restaurant shares a strip center sidewalk with the Whole Foods that was transplanted across Wilcrest into the dead former Randalls last year.

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High on West Westheimer
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 12:30pm

2723 Yale St., Houston Heights, Houston, 77008
2723 Yale St., Houston Heights, Houston, 77008

As heralded by last Wednesday’s daily demolition report, the low-slung insurance and marketing office building at 2723 Yale St. is now in tatters. The post-smashing shot above was taken in a drive-by by a reader yesterday (who notes this morning that most of the debris has since been hauled off).

Planned for the lot is a new strip center being marketed by East Village developer Ancorian as a retail-office-restaurant mashup, “anchored” by the mini Whole Foods in the works across 610. The property is loosely sandwiched between the combination KFC-Taco Bell to the south and the side-by-side Burger King and new El Rey sitting along the North Loop feeder road (visible to the right).

Renderings of the proposed strip show a mix of brick, wood, metal grating, glass, and patches of other skin materials; a Newquest Properties leasing flier shows the building turning away from Yale St. to face W. 28th St., behind a thick protective later of parking:

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Cleaning Up in the Heights
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
03/02/17 3:00pm

2901 S. Shepherd Dr., WAMM, Houston, 77006

1618 Westheimer Rd., Montrose, Houston, 77006The body-oriented retail strip across from the recently browned-out Alabama Theater has just swapped second-or-more-hand clothing retailer Buffalo Exchange into the spot by Kipling St. last occupied by Centre Fitness Fusion, a reader notes. (Centre Fitness took over from Orange Shoe Fitness, which itself succeeded bike shop and implicit fitness purveyor Cycle Spectrum.) Buffalo Exchange joins Epique Massage next to Darque Tan, separated only by a driveway and some parking spots from Demeris Bar-B-Q.

And what of the old Buffalo Exchange spot, recently spotted sporting a variance request notice out front?

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Fashion Recycler Recycling
02/28/17 5:15pm

4211 Bellaire Blvd., Southside Place, TX, 77025

Black Eyed Pea, 4211 Bellaire Blvd., HoustonBankruptcy and, today, demolition — so ends the journey for the Black-eyed Pea at 4211 Bellaire Blvd. Swirling rumors and previously filed variance requests suggested that apartments would go up on the site, and an actual design for a multifamily midrise was even floating around as early as last year — but the property changed hands again in the fall, as a reader noted.  The new plan for the site, evidently part of Dallas-based serial apartment developer Ojala Holdings’s bid to cash in on the Texas big-box storage market, looks to be a 4-story storage facility. And permitting reviews look to have started in the fall, not long after Ojala’s Uncle-Bob’s-turned-Life Storage got wrapped up across from the no-longer-listed-for-lease Wabash Feed Store:

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Clean Plat in Southside Place
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
02/22/17 2:15pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: WHAT’S GONE AND WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN ON LOUISIANA ST. Demolition of 517 Louisiana St., Downtown, Houston, 77002“I just stumbled upon this today (having moved away from Houston in the early 90s.) Kind of breaks my heart to see it gone, having been the maître d’ and sommelier there in the late 80s and early 90s. . . . I still have dreams of a hidden cellar beyond the famous cellar downstairs.” [Kevin Metivier, commenting on Those 2 Century-Old Louisiana St. Buildings Being Demolished Now for Lancaster Hotel Parking] Photo of 517 Louisiana demolition: Jack Miller