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

12/13/18 5:00pm

“What, after all, is the majesty of the Hill Country compared to the majesty of the orange and white Whataburger logo?asks Texas Monthlys Dan Solomon. It’s a question that feels wrong to poseHow dare you put Texas’s natural charm on the same plane as the sprawl we’ve layered over it — but also feels wrong to ignore. “Texans often display their enthusiasm for homegrown chains without a hint of irony,” writes Solomon. So why not just embrace our freeway-side icons in good-old-fashioned oil-and-canvas style?

San Antonio artist Michael Esparza’s done just that with his work, which the internet recently discovered after one well-followed editor tweeted out a link to his Etsy shop. There, he offers prints of paintings like the ones above that range from, er . . . hyper-realist:

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Texana, Reimagined
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:

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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
12/10/18 1:00pm

You may remember the Jack in the Box at 2001 N. Shepherd that was left high and dry in September after shutting down. It’s got a new owner: an entity connected to New York brokerage firm Edry Real Estate. The sale closed last month and includes just over half an acre at the northwest corner of Shepherd Dr. and W. 20th St.

Photo: Swamplox inbox

Burger Flip
12/04/18 3:15pm

Nearly the entire block-face of Richmond Ave between Roseland and Stanford streets is now up for sale; altogether: just over 19,400 sq.-ft. for $4.2 million. The offerings include the 2-story former Drew’s BBQ house pictured above, the residential lot behind it, the eastern half of the Chapultepec Lupita restaurant next-door to it (the portion of the restaurant with a red awning has a different landlord), and the former notary shop between the restaurant and the Koelsch Gallery on the corner of Stanford St.

The restaurant’s lease on its building at 817 Richmond — shown below — runs until next April:

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Fitze Homestead
12/03/18 10:15am

A Swamplot reader sends the photo at top showing new signage up on the eaves of the former Shadow Oaks Drive-In convenience store at Long Point Rd. and Conrad Sauer Dr. in Spring Branch West. And a little bit of zoom reveals what’s now being advertised: a new business called Lazy Oaks Beer Garden. That same moniker has shown up on a number of permits filed on the 10158 Long Point Rd. address over the last 2 months, as well as an application for a TABC license.

Built in 1958, the convenience store remained in the family for nearly 60 years until the death of its second-gen owner, whose estate sold the property last September.

Photo: Swamplox inbox

Spring Branch West
11/08/18 10:30am

Frenchy’s Chicken is gearing up to open a new restaurant on Scott St. so that it’s original — there since 1969 — can get out of the way of Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church‘s planned expansion. (You can see the church’s slated roofing peeking out behind Frenchy’s in the photo above.) The restaurant’s new location: 2 blocks south of the current one, in the former O’Sat Auto Detail shop pictured at top on the northwest corner of Blodgett St. There, a spate of building permits filed within the last few months reveal Frenchy’s management is about to get started on renovations.

It’s a bit of a detour from the chain’s original relocation plan. Last May, Frenchy’s top brass Percy Creuzot III (the son of the chain’s founder Percy “Frenchy” Creuzot, Jr.) told the Chronicle‘s Cindy George he’d staked out a spot 5 blocks north of the current one where Alabama St. ends across from UH’s indoor football practice building. Sure enough, Creuzot’s business partner Anthony Gaynor consolidated several adjacent lots he owned at the southwest corner of Alabama and Scott 2 into a single property last year — and a few months afterward, demolished the building it that’d done stints on it as number of different barbecue joints:

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Third Ward
11/05/18 4:30pm

Note: This story has been updated to include Beard Papa’s in the list of tenants planned for Bellaire Food Street.

The steel is up for Bellaire Food Street‘s 3-level garage, as shown in the twilit photo at top looking west down Bellaire Blvd. So far popsicle shop Popfancy, Japanese cream puff dealer Beard Papa’s, Japanese gather-’round-the-grill restaurant Pepper Lunch, Vietnamese restaurant Migo, Taiwanese shaved ice shop Meet Fresh, and — just today — Beijing-style skewered meat spot Fat Ni BBQ have punched their tickets for entry into ground floor of the 24,000-sq.-ft. strip next door, reports Eater, adding that more are on the way. The developer Kevin Kan has laid claim to the building’s second story office outpost.

Work on the 2-acre site between Beltway 8 and Gessner got off the ground earlier this year:

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Where Diho Apartments Left Off
11/01/18 10:15am

  

A handful of building permits filed recently over at the Marq’e Entertainment Center indicate that kids training center Soccer Hub is kicking off renovations directly behind the spot reserved for the new Spaghetti-Warehouse-like eatery the brand’s parent company is calling Warehouse 72. Together, both new venues will be taking over the space Korean buffet Kpop gave up last year on the shopping center’s non-movie-theater side, across the arch-fronted alley from Dave and Buster’s‘s almost-but-not-entirely standalone building. (There’s now a mystery-themed escape room up in its business, as indicated on the map above.)

It’s not an entirely even split: Soccer Hub is getting about 6,000 sq.-ft. while Warehouse 72 will have 8,600 — enough room for seating, prepared food retail fixtures, and a double-sided bar serving both the restaurant’s insides and a planned 750-sq.-ft. patio, reports Eater‘s Alaena Hostetter. Until the 2 get situated — or get beat to the punch by the Hugh O’Connors Irish-themed restaurant opening in space number 25 on the map —specialty soda and candy shop Rocket Fizz will remain the only thing inside the Marq’e’s center building. It’s been there by itself since Cafe Adobe closed in what’s shown on the map as spot number 26, leaving 10,000 sq.-ft. up for grabs.

Photo: Kpop. Map: Levcor

Tag Team Takeover
10/29/18 3:00pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY RUNNER-UP: THE ‘FOOD HALL’ THRESHOLD “A food COURT is a cluster of food vendors, often with shared seating, in a place whose primary purpose is something else (shopping mall, airport). A food HALL is a cluster of food vendors, often with shared seating, in a place whose primary purpose is serving food.” [Angostura, commenting on Ranking Houston’s Pricey Rentals; Bellaire Food Street Picks Up Popsicle Vendor; Jersey Village’s New Office-Park Brewery] Photo of Lyric Market at night: Random Sky Studio

10/29/18 10:30am

Here’s what the restaurant just west of the Meyer Park Shopping Center looks like in its afterlife. Signage came down the same day that the store closed, last Wednesday. It’s now listed for lease by the franchisee that owns the land at 4904 W. Bellfort as well as that beneath about 70 other Taco Bells, KFCs, and Pizza Huts in and around Houston: KorMex Foods.

KorMex grabbed this location along with 15 other existing stores when it went into business in 2000. By then, the building itself had been around for 7 years.

Photo: Jason Karwacki

W. Bellfort and S. Post Oak
10/17/18 1:30pm

ON THE PEARLAND ARBY’S MENU THIS WEEKEND: DUCK SANDWICH SPECIAL Saturday is Duck Sandwich debut day at the Pearland Arby’s on Shadow Creek Pkwy., one of just 16 locations across the U.S. chosen for the promo — a chain spokeswoman tells Nations Restaurant News reporter Bret Thorn — because of their proximity to “waterfowl migration flyways,” areas where duck-hunting is a popular pastime. “Based on past experience from similar Arby’s LTOs [Limited Time Offerings],” like the venison sandwich special of 2016 and elk offering the following year, Thorn expects supplies to sell out in “less than a day.” After arriving in-store from global, Indiana-headquartered duck supplier Maple Leaf Farms, the breasts will be seared and cooked in sous-vide (sealed in pouches and placed in hot water) before landing on a bun along with “fried onions and smoked cherry sauce.” [Nation’s Restaurant News; list of participating Arby’s] Video: Arby’s

10/16/18 4:00pm

A former employee of the chain says that September 30 was the staff’s last day at the restaurant in the Marq’E Entertainment Center, where its double-decker patio — pictured above — faces off from the Edwards Cinema movie theater (and its vertical water feature faces off from the shopping center’s plaza fountain).

All other Cafe Adobe locations have closed down as well; most recently, the one in terminal B of Bush Airport and the one across Hwy. 6 from Sugar Land‘s Market at Town Center shopping center — which featured this dramatic main entrance:

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Adobe a Goner
10/15/18 10:15am

The owner of the abandoned restaurant storefront on Taft St. south of W. Gray didn’t waste much time in trashing the place after acquiring it in June. A demo permit filed last month condemned both the street-fronting building shown above and its backyard bungalow. The photo at top shows the state of things on Friday afternoon.

The new owner also bought the neighboring brick house on Peden St. around the same time:

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A Flash in the Pan