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: 

CONTINUE READING THIS STORY

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

02/22/17 11:15am

Another Broken Yolk, 3801 Farnham St., Shepherd Triangle, Houston, 77098

Some time between the morning and evening rush hours yesterday, says a reader, the new sign above for Another Broken Yolk Cafe went up at 3801 Farnham St., the original location of the 59 Diner chain prior to its lawsuit-clouded closure. The building adopted the persona of optionally halal Tex-Mex and pancake joint El Beso Cantina for a brief interlude starting around Christmas, after which the building’s “Eat Here!” dot was redone to read “24 Hrs Breakfast.” The website for the latest redo, however, currently lists the restaurant’s hours of operation as 7am to 10pm.

The building’s exterior has had a bit of a makeover since 59 Diner’s departure: the chrome and teal went more brick, yellow, and red for El Beso’s brief tenure, though other elements (like the BREAKFAST LUNCH DINNER labels) have remained in place. A teal hole can be spied where some El Beso signage hung until recently, in the same over-the-doorway spot previously occupied by the bubble-gum pink 59 logo:

CONTINUE READING THIS STORY

Flipping Breakfast Concepts
02/17/17 3:30pm

Former Skinny Rita's at 607 W. Gray St., North Montrose, Houston, 77019

Former Skinny Rita's at 607 W. Gray St., North Montrose, Houston, 77019The large and unambiguous letters now hovering out front of the new North Montrose version of semi-diet Tex-Mex joint Skinny Rita’s are accompanied by a small lockout notice, a rain-spattered reader notes this afternoon. The For Lease By Landlord declarations have replaced the restaurant’s logo on both sides of the freestanding sign on the property at 607 W. Gray St. (across the road from now listed as in-contract Cecil’s Pub); another banner is hung on the fence facing the restaurant’s parking lot, in view of the Skinny Rita’s logo still up on the side of the building:

CONTINUE READING THIS STORY

North Montrose Lockup
02/16/17 3:00pm

Saint Arnold Brewing Company Expansion renderings, 2104 Lyons Ave., Near Northside, Houston, 77020Saint Arnold Brewing Company Expansion renderings, 2104 Lyons Ave., Near Northside, Houston, 77020

A fresh batch of renderings from the Office of James Burnett have been filed with the city planning commission this month as part of Saint Arnold Brewing Company’s request for a setback variance for that previously mentioned beer garden next door. Early permits have been trickling in since last fall for the ex-tow lot at 2104 Lyons Ave., across Semmes St. from the brewery’s new-ish downtown headquarters in the former HISD Food Service building (even more formerly the home of the Bemis Bag Company).

The new designs show what might be the site’s intended layout, including a restaurant structure which dissolves into an outdoor patio and garden space, a set of bocce courts, and more parking, including an area set aside for display of art cars (as shown up top featuring the company’s own tie-dye vehicles). Here’s the full tentative layout:

CONTINUE READING THIS STORY

Gardens of Fifth Ward
02/16/17 12:45pm

Rendering of 528 Westheimer Rd., Avondale, Houston, 77006

Construction in August on Paul Qui's Aqui, 520 Westheimer Rd., Montrose, Houston, 77006The pointy building rendered above (and shown here as well in an intermediate building stage last year, as construction began at 520 Westheimer Rd.) has just been confirmed this week as the planned site of Paul Qui’s rumored Houston restaurant, to be called Aqui. The depiction of the restaurant by lower-case Austin design firm a parallel architecture (the same firm that designed Qui’s then-eponymous spot in Austin) was spotted by a reader at the site early last March, shortly before Qui picked up a couple of drug and assault misdemeanor charges which tacked a question mark onto the timeline of future plans and openings.

Following the chef’s rehab stint, Qui Restaurant in Austin has since closed and reopened as Kuneho; the self-described former-drug-dealer-turned-James-Bearded-Top-Chef-champ hinted at his connection to the building at 520 Westheimer on social media a few days ago. The spot is wedged between Indika and The Cat Doctor.

Images: a parallel architecture (rendering), Swamplot inbox (photo)

Here’s Aqui
02/10/17 4:45pm

Urban Bricks Pizza Co., 5650 West Grand Parkway South #100, Richmond, TX 77407

The finishing touches have been applied to the first Houston-area outpost of Urban Bricks Pizza Co., in time for the location’s end-of-January grand opening. The Boerne-based pizza place has squeezed in next to Zesty Cleaners and James Avery in the newest piece of the growing strip center puzzle known as the Shops at Bella Terra, itself sandwiched between the Lakes of Bella Terra and Parkway Lakes subdivisions south of the EZ TAG-only intersection of Westpark Tollway and the Grand Parkway. The most recent add-on to the center is near the bottom left corner in the detention-pond-spangled siteplan below:

CONTINUE READING THIS STORY

Lakeside Pizza Views
02/01/17 11:30am

Rice Box, 300 W. 20th St., Houston Heights, Houston, 77008

Rice Box, 300 W. 20th St., Houston Heights, Houston, 77008The Chinese chicken takeout swapout at 300 W. 20th St. is now more or less complete, as of the space’s soft opening on Saturday (just in time to celebrate the Lunar New Year, which kicked off, as it happens, the start of the year of the rooster). The restaurant’s official kickoff is planned for this weekend, the day before the Super Bowl. Rice Box owner John Peterson told the Chronicle years ago that the now-catering-only food truck was loosely inspired by the movie’s White Dragon noodle shop; the new restaurant’s prominent neon signage and dense Asiatic business district patio mural offer a more overt visual cue. (Incidentally, Peterson isn’t the only person interested in ushering in the movie’s dystopian aesthetic for culinary purposes — celebrity food guy Anthony Bourdain is reportedly working on a whole Blade Runner-themed food marketplace on a pier in New York.)

Interior renovations include the addition of several beer taps, in line with that TABC permit notice spotted last year (though some of the taps reportedly dispense nitrogenated tea.) Here’s a look from W. 20th St. at the refurbished exterior, and the building’s new side patio:

CONTINUE READING THIS STORY

Heights Chicken Switch
01/31/17 11:30am

7006 I-45 South at Woodridge, Gulfgate, Houston, 77087

7006 I-45 South at Woodridge, Gulfgate, Houston, 77087 Vintage roadside attraction photographer Molly Block sends in the fresh shot above of the empty triple post that previously held up the neon beacon of Gulfgate all-night diner Dot Coffee Shop (along with a previous portrait of the sign itself, circa 2013). Block snapped the picture of the bare poles over the weekend; an employee tells Swamplot this morning that both the Dot sign and the sign for also-Pappas-owned Pappas Bar-B-Q next door had to be temporarily taken down out of the way of that planned reworking of the I-45-Loop-610 intersection. The project will add another pair of direct connectors between the 2 highways, and retool the southbound I-45 frontage road, which runs along the edge of the restaurants’ parking lots (as shown in the TxDOT schematics below):

CONTINUE READING THIS STORY

Gulfgate Rearrangements
01/30/17 5:30pm

1634 Westheimer Rd., Montrose, Houston, 77006 1634 Westheimer Rd., Montrose, Houston, 77006

Update, 1/31: A few readers noticed some TABC notices across the street — more here.

A reader noted the recent earth-scraping on the now-largely-grassless corner lot at 1634 Westheimer Rd. (shown above in last week’s aquatic trappings). The long-empty land, across Kuester St. from Buffalo Exchange, is listed as the former site of Kewpie’s Cleaners and Dyers, and was previously tapped as the intended site of a 5-story Bunkhouse hotel. The midrise plan fell through, though, freeing the land to become the future site of the Edmont. That plan also fell through: Only a temporary version of the woulda-been restaurant was ever built, for a 1-night fundraiser supporting a foundation started in memory of chef and Edmont co-founder Grant Gordon.

Recently issued city permits suggest the space is turning to the parking industry for now. Here’s another shot, facing southwest through the fence toward interior design shop Merchant & Market, exterior design shop Houston Ink Society, and smoke shop High End:

CONTINUE READING THIS STORY

Down to 0 Stories for Now
01/17/17 3:30pm

Rendering of 1931 McGowen St., Hyde Park, Houston, 77006 1931 McGowen St., Hyde Park, Houston, 77006

Over the weekend MATCH Theater and Montrose H-E-B designer Lake Flato hit Instagram to release some depictions of what the former McGowen Cleaners at the corner of Fairview and Morse streets might looked like dressed up as a restaurant (as per that TABC license notification spotted over the summer at the site). The design shows some of the current doors turned into windows, some of the current windows turned into much longer windows, and an existing patio cover hosting a series of hanging seat-pods, amid much leafier landscaping. The plan also calls for the creation of a new courtyard out back, to be “carved out of the existing building;” another rendering shows a sliver of what that might look like from the inside, on the right below:

CONTINUE READING THIS STORY

Tailoring in Hyde Park
01/17/17 10:45am

Hamburger Mary's Houston ad

The latest ad for the in-the-works Houston franchise of restaurant and periodic drag venue Hamburger Mary’s includes a collection of cartoonified downtown landmarks (among them Pennzoil Place and Bank of America Center), with an Astrodome tacked onto one side of the abbreviated skyline for good measure. As to where exactly the restaurant and bar is settling in — what with the old Mary’s spot already taken, and all — permits have been issued for the Converse St. end of the strip center at 2409 Grant St., a block east of Montrose Blvd. That’s where not-safe-for-work clothing and accessories shop Hollywood Super Center previously operated, before moving next door into the former Hollywood Investments & Realty space):
CONTINUE READING THIS STORY

Marys of Avondale
01/12/17 11:30am

Midtown Entry Portal work site, Brazos St. at I-45 and Pierce St., Midtown, Houston, 77003

More signs of the Midtown Redevelopment Authority’s current 3-part landscaping project: the large hill being crafted where the long I-45 exit ramp into Pierce St. hits Brazos St. Bid documents for the project also mention landscaping walls, accent lighting, and decorative stone as part of the rest of the plan for the spot. The newly elevated site sits east across the I-45 offloader from the former home of high-gloss steak and seafood house Mr. Peeples, which shut down back in March. The Bagby-facing building, which served as a Boy Scouts of America office prior to the restaurant makeover, is still up for lease; a marketing flier advertises all 3 stories as up for grabs, along with the 8,702-sq.-ft. basement. Here’s the full frontal:

CONTINUE READING THIS STORY

Moving Up in Midtown
01/11/17 5:15pm

Leasing Materials for former Foreign Correspondents site, Norhill, Houston

The split space occupied until late December by Northern Thai restaurant Foreign Correspondents and its also-freshly-shut-down cocktail bar companion Canard may be up for lease now, a reader notes. Treadsack suffix provider and co-owner Chris Cusack told CultureMap after the restaurant’s closure (spurred in the moment by the resignation of the head chefs, and trailing a few months after the previous departure of the company’s head beverage person) that the company would likely be trying out another concept in the space; that claim, however, was made before the details of years of behind-the-scenes financial turmoil hit the Internet.

listing flier from Braun Enterprise, showing the center’s updates since the original marketing materials for 4721 N. Main were released, now advertises the restaurant’s space as up for grabs; the recent photo above is included, alongside the accompanying site plans of the 4,742-sq.-ft. space. A plan view of the rest of the shopping center is included as well, showing the currently solidifying new location of Austin-based gelato chain Dolce Neve:

CONTINUE READING THIS STORY

Iced in Norhill
01/06/17 11:30am

Former Earthman Bellaire Funeral Home at 6700 Ferris St., Bellaire, TX 77401
Former Earthman Bellaire Funeral Home at 6700 Ferris St., Bellaire, TX 77401Making way for new happenings in the old chapel and mortuary, Earthman Bellaire Funeral Home has departed from its longtime space at 6700 Ferris St. and moved into the younger, broader building at 4525 Bissonnet St. formerly housing Levy Funeral Directors. (Levy, for its part, has scooted over to nextdoor 4539 Bissonnet, the brick 4-plex just east of Candy’s Nails.) Earthman’s empty space was sold in October to United Equities, and Ralph Bivins reports this week that the slope-roofed mid-1950s building will be put back to use by 2 new tenants: yoga and fitness chain Define Body & Mind and a zip-code-enthused restaurant going by 401. The Define folks have already marked their territory on the Ferris side of the building, atop the ghost of Earthman’s scripty logo:

CONTINUE READING THIS STORY

Bissonnet Funeral Home Shuffle