08/15/17 4:00pm

JOE’S CRAB SHACK IS ALREADY HALF-GONE FROM HOUSTON If you’re willing to count Galveston, as of this week the number of Houston-area locations of seafood chain Joe’s Crab Shack is down to 3, cut in half after the abrupt closures of the Gulf Fwy. at Fuqua (pictured), North Fwy. at Airtex, and Pearland (3239 Silverlake Village Dr., near 288) restaurants. Nationwide, more than 25 of the chain’s 112 locations have been shuttered, ahead of a scheduled Thursday bankruptcy hearing for chain owner Ignite Restaurant Group at which a $55 million sale to former owner Landry’s is expected to be approved. (Landry’s sold the chain in 2006 for $192 million, to a private equity firm that later spun out Ignite as a separate entity.) The Joe’s Crab Shack locations in Galveston (at Seawall Blvd. near 35th), Humble (across I-69 from the Deerbrook Mall) and on Hwy. 6 (between the West Oaks Mall and Briar Forest Dr.) are still open. [Consumerist, via HBJ] Photo of Joe’s Crab Shack at 12400 Gulf Fwy.: Camren O.

08/14/17 4:30pm

With the newest location coming to the Pearland Pkwy. pad site shown at the center of the image above in the Centre at Pearland Parkway shopping center just behind the H-E-B fronting Broadway, the density of Chick-fil-A restaurants in an axis stretching from FM 518 in Pearland to I-45 in Webster is fast approaching Texas Medical Center–level concentration, and may soon exceed it. (There are 4 Chick-fil-As in the TMC area, 3 of them conveniently located inside hospitals — though no drive-thrus.)

Less than 2 miles to the west along Broadway from the pictured location (expected to open in January) is the Chick-fil-A at FM 518 and Dixie Farm Rd.; further to the east are the spots in the Baybrook Mall and along the Gulf Fwy. at El Dorado Blvd. Between them, and possibly on the horizon, looms the planned Chick Fil A location at the intersection of FM 518 and Leisure Ln. in Friendswood. The owners of that property withdrew a rezoning application that would have allowed restaurant uses on that site after residents complained before the Friendswood City Council in April that adding the Chick-fil-A would make the city too much like Pearland. But a new rezoning request for the same property is up for consideration with the council this week, and the owners tell the Chronicle‘s Dana Guthrie that Chick-fil-A is still very interested in building a restaurant there.

Site plan detail, Centre at Pearland Parkway: Stream Retail

FM 518, Chicken Alley
08/09/17 10:45am

TEXADELPHIA’S TRIUMPHANT RETURN TO THE WESTHEIMER STRIP A little more than 2 years after retreating from its last Houston outpost — and later, having to see its former Westheimer location festooned with a giant Beaver statueTex-Mex cheesesteak chain Texadelphia is ready to return. Houston’s very first-in-a-while Texadelphia franchise is scheduled to open by late next month in the endcap of the Westside Plaza strip center at 8383 Westheimer Rd., on the corner of Dunvale, where it will replace the recently shuttered Potbelly sandwich shop pictured above. [Houston Chronicle; previously on Swamplot] Photo: The Square Foot

08/08/17 4:45pm

The 25-story SkyHouse River Oaks apartment tower, completed at the end of 2015 on a portion of the site of the former Westcreek Apartments just west of the San Felipe Target, has actual streetfront retail on its ground floor. And as of last week, it’s all full and open. That’s when Inferno Pizza began serving in the 2,400-sq.-ft. space at 2031 Westcreek Ln. Suite N1. The neighboring space has been a Glow Spa and Nails since last year.

There’s designated parking for spa- and pizza-goers in the first floor of the building’s garage. Pizza Inferno’s interior is organized like most fast-casual you-tell-us-how-to-assemble-it restaurants, though the buildout also added a 600-sq.-ft. mezzanine dining area and some patio seating (tables are coming in a few weeks) in front:

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Tower Pizza
07/31/17 1:30pm

“We will not have a kitchen ourselves,” writes the proprietor of Cobble & Spoke, the new craft beer bar planned for space H, almost to the corner of the 1900 Blalock strip center at the northeast corner of Blalock St. and Campbell Rd., in response to a reader query earlier today on Facebook. “However there is a restaurant on site that you will be able to order with right at the bar & have the food delivered right to your table!” That restaurant is Simply Greek, just 6 storefronts down the L, past Precisions Research, a couple of vacant spaces, Ideal Furniture, Creatures of Yoga, and Senpai’s Cards.

At the opposite end of the center is the Stop n’ In convenience store paired with the pair of gas pumps that front the parking lot. Cobble & Spoke promises a selection of wines and craft ciders as well. Neighborhood riders who want to lock up their bicycles will be accommodated too, the bar’s owner notes: “We will have a bike rack out front & even some dedicated space inside.

Photo: Silvestri Investments

Craft Beer and Imported Food
07/28/17 3:45pm

All construction work appears to have stopped, a reader notes, on the transformation of the former Pilgrim Cleaners and (later) Shriners Hospital clothing donation drop-off building at 4005 N. Braeswood into a second location of the Bacco wine bar. (The building, at the corner of Stella Link, backs up to Brays Bayou.) A red tag from city’s floodplain management office sticky-noted to the window beside the front door and dated July 3 gives a hint as to why: “Remodeling without floodplain permit in the floodplain,” it reads. On the next line, it adds another bit of advice: “Need electrical, plumbing, and structural permits as well.”

Photo: Swamplot inbox

When It Pours
07/27/17 2:30pm

Here’s a glance at how the now-redone North Shepherd strip center that used to house the Texas Cafeteria is looking this week, about a month before the second-ever location of sandwich joint Krisp Chicken & Batter opens up on the building’s south end. A raised bit of concrete slab seen on the near side of the building in the photo above will form the foundation of a planned dining patio. According to the building’s leasing flyer, a 1,825-sq.-ft. space in the building is still available for lease adjacent to Krisp; the rest of the building will become a Verizon store.

The center at 2400 N. Shepherd Dr. is immediately north of the former Fiesta lot where H-E-B plans to start construction on a new Heights market late this summer.

According to Culturemap’s Eric Sandler, the owners of Krisp are already planning to open additional locations in Memorial, Bellaire, and Downtown in the next few years — and possibly Pearland and Cinco Ranch after that.

Photo: Swamplot inbox

Next Month
07/27/17 10:30am

EMPTY ‘END HUNGER’ WAREHOUSE BY I-45 NORTH TO BE FILLED WITH WORKERS MAKING SOUTH AFRICAN FOOD AND SEASONINGS The former Mary Barden Keegan building at 2445 North Fwy. a couple of exits north of Downtown that for more than 10 years was home to the Houston Food Bank will soon make some adjustments to its culinary mission. The Peli Peli restaurant group has announced that the 15,000-sq.-ft. building — which includes a 9,362-sq.-ft. commercial kitchen as well as office and warehouse space — will henceforth become the food-preparation hub of the growing 5-restaurant chain’s Houston operations. The kitchen that once provided space for the creation of 5,000 meals a day for needy individuals will soon house Peli Peli’s catering operation and provide space for the production of Peli Peli–brand bottled sauces and spices. (“That includes piri piri pepper, also known as bird’s-eye chili, which is used to flavor chicken and seafood and to rim martini glasses,” notes the Chronicle‘s Katherine Feser.) Peli Peli partner Thomas Nguyen tells Feser the company plans to keep the building’s signature END HUNGER graphic embedded into the building’s tilt-up-concrete panels on its freeway side, which were originally painted red when the building was constructed in 2006 but are now rendered in green. “We’re not messing with it,” he tells her. “If anything, we would like to enhance it later on.” The Houston Food Bank sold the building to Virgata Property Company last year, leasing it back until it could complete construction of an even larger kitchen operation in the much larger facility it constructed out of  the former Sysco warehouse at 535 Portwall St. near I-10 and the West Loop. [Houston Chronicle; PR Newswire; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Virgata Property

07/26/17 4:30pm

SWEET MESQUITE REBIRTHING IN RAGIN’ CAJUN’S ABANDONED UNDERGROUND LAIR BELOW MAIN A sign advertising a new Sweet Mesquite Grill has appeared in the tunnel-facing storefront under the McKinney Place Garage where Ragin’ Cajun shut down a few months ago. The spot below 930 Main St. Downtown is scheduled to open in a month as a Sweet Mesquite do-over. The restaurant in the shopping center at 1570 S. Dairy Ashford near Briar Forest Dr. was a Sweet Mesquite Grill before it became Mesquite Cottage; the new tunnel location henceforth will be the only Sweet Mesquite Grill in town, but is expected to be a bit of a reboot from the original. [Previously on Swamplot] Photo: Swamplot inbox

07/26/17 11:15am

DOWNTOWN HOUSTON IS NOW DOWN TO A SINGLE STREET-LEVEL SUBWAY With the shuttering last week of the Subway sandwich shop at the corner of Milam and Rusk streets — catty corner from Pennzoil Place, in the ground-floor space below the Level Office at 720 Rusk St. (pictured here) — the national sandwich chain is now down to a single Downtown location that can be accessed from a sidewalk. Another streetside Subway, in the ground floor of the Americana Building 5 blocks to the south at the corner of Milam and Dallas, exited its space before demolition began on that structure in February. A total of 8 Subways are located Downtown, but they’re all now harbored in tunnels or lobbies or food courts — except the lone fresh-air holdout at 405 Main St., at the corner of Preston. [Previously on Swamplot] Photo of former Subway space at 802 Milam St.: cmoney_htx

07/25/17 1:45pm

The former Heights Finance Station post office at the corner of Heights Blvd. and 11th St. — its parking lot and front door face Yale St. — is coming down in a hail of lovingly painted bricks today. The post office was closed at the end of 2015 and subsequently purchased by developer MFT Interests. The single-story building was later festooned with an assortment of romance– and ZIP-code-themed murals.

MFT is calling the new development it has planned for the 1050 Yale St. site Heights Central Station. It’ll consist of two 2-story painted-brick buildings fronting 11th St.:

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Heights Central Station
07/21/17 1:15pm

The neon signage facing the I-10 feeder road at the former home of the Mason Jar has been stripped off, as the spot gets built out for a takeover by the Goode folks (as seen in this shot captured by a reader this week). After the ongoing expansion and patio-making wraps up, the spot will offer a menu at least somewhat reminiscent of the company’s Kirby Dr. taqueria, based on barbecue heir and current owner Levi Goode’s musings to Eric Sandler last month. The new brand’ll be called the Goode Company Kitchen & Cantina; Goode told Sandler there’s a second one planned for the Woodlands.

A few old Mason Jar labels are still visible to the east of the building:

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Kitchen & Cantina Conversion
07/13/17 10:45am

5 SLIM CHICKENS CAUGHT CROSSING HOUSTON BORDER The Slim Chicken drive-ups in Katy, Cypress, Spring, and Humble will soon be joined by 5 new locations of the restaurant franchise inside the Houston city limits. First up: wings and Texas-shaped waffles will become available at 9850 Louetta Rd. in Vintage Lakes, right by Aldi and just down the street from the fast-food mecca known as Vintage Marketplace. A Kingwood location at 30255 Loop 494 should open later this summer, though it isn’t clear if the Arkansas-based chain is counting that location as one of its 5 genuine Houston spots. [Eater Houston] Photo of the Slim Chicken opened late last year at  9255 FM 1960 Bypass Rd. in Humble: Edwin R.

07/06/17 4:15pm

ADDING NEEDED FAST-FOOD DIVERSITY TO THE NRG PARK—SOUTH MAIN DONUT NEXUS “At least, an Arby’s will add a different fast-food chain to the area. Another donut shop would have been useless with the Shipley’s (Murworth/Main: SW corner), Dawn Donut (Murworth/Main: NW corner), and Glazed (Old Spanish Trail near Kirby) giving them a run for their money.” [Major Market, commenting on A Peek Inside the Half-Baked Krispy Kreme near NRG Stadium] Illustration: Lulu

06/29/17 11:00am

THE BRAND NEW LAURENZO’S ON BAGBY ST. IS ALREADY CLOSED Not to be outdone by the sudden departures of the last 2 occupants of the retail spot tucked below the parking garage at 1910 Bagby St., the Laurenzo’s offshoot which opened in the space this past January has now closed indefinitely, a passing reader reports. The eponymous Laurenzo family announced the spot around the start of this year, telling Greg Morago of the Chronicle that they had originally been approached to put an El Tiempo in the space by Landmark Hospitality (the folks behind borderline barbecue breastaurant The Republic Smokehouse & Saloon, which previously occupied 1910 Bagby). The space, just outside the elbow of the Pierce Elevated, sits directly across the street from the former Boyscout office that briefly hosted glitzy steakhouse Mr. Peeple’s (also a Landmark project). [Previously on Swamplot] Photo: Swamplot inbox