06/30/14 10:30am

Mustang Stuck in Concrete, Southwest Fwy. Feeder Rd. at Greenbriar, Upper Kirby, Houston

The closest thing Houston has to a Bermuda Triangle — also known as various patches of curing roadway concrete known to appear in and around the intersection of Kirby Dr. and the Southwest Fwy. — claimed its third (known) victim over the weekend. It wasn’t a Lexus this time, or a Jaguar, but a bright red Mustang that found itself solidly rooted in the recently poured stew on the westbound feeder road between Greenbriar and Kirby Dr. early Saturday morning.

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Feeder Road at a Standstill
06/20/14 1:30pm

DON’T BOTHER THE FINE FOLKS AT CAFE JAPON, BUT WOULD YOU LIKE TO LEASE THEIR BUILDING? Cafe Japon, 3915 Kirby Dr., Upper Kirby, HoustonA listing for the 4,000-sq.-ft. restaurant space tucked deep into the space at 3915 Kirby Dr. just north of the Southwest Fwy. appeared last week on LoopNet. “Please do not disturb the tenant,” the listing says, noting that the building is currently occupied month-to-month by “a Japanese restaurant.” That would be longtime sushi purveyor Café Japon. How long might it be until some new-kid-in-town restaurant displaces it? An interloper would have to pay $14,000 per month in addition to a share of property taxes, the listing says. [LoopNet, via Chris Frankel] Photo: LoopNet

06/02/14 3:30pm

Brio Tuscan Grille, 3029 Kirby Dr., Centre at River Oaks Shopping Center, Upper Kirby, Houston

The sign is down and workers are moving equipment out of the Brio Tuscan Grille at the corner of Kirby and West Alabama. The restaurant shut down yesterday, a reader informs Swamplot. “They had a bunch of stuff all over the floor and about 3 rental moving trucks with guys hanging out,” writes the informant, who adds that one of the unnamed workers said the restaurant had been “not that busy” and wasn’t making enough money. Brio took over the space formerly occupied by Pesce at the 3029 Kirby Dr. spot in the Centre at River Oaks Shopping Center 2 years ago, around the same time the former Borders Books in the same building was being carved up into separate spaces for a pediatric clinic and Ulta Beauty. The Brio CityCentre location remains open.

Photo: Swamplot inbox

Moving Out Senza Brio
05/22/14 3:45pm

CAFE EXPRESS ON KIRBY IS CLOSING AT THE END OF MAY Cafe Express Closing Flyer, Kirby Dr., HoustonWhat’s this little flyer employees at the Café Express at 3200 Kirby Dr. have begun stuffing into to-go bags? Just a little announcement that the location, which has been open since 1987, will be shutting down before the month is out. And sending customers to one of the 13 other spots in the chain, with a coupon. Thanks, but might cost a bit more to eat at some of the restaurants in the site’s replacement when it opens. Thor Equities has been showing whizzy images of the Kirby Collection, a mixed-use grouping of 3 structures planned for the entire block of Kirby between Colquitt and West Main St., on its website. The site is being redeveloped, the flyer says. [Previously on Swamplot] Image: Loves Swamplot

05/12/14 3:30pm

THERE IS TALK OF THE CITY AS A WHOLE IN THAT BAD FOOD THERE Grace's on Kirby, 3111 Kirby Dr., Upper Kirby, HoustonKatharine Shilcutt gets into a few extra-culinary issues in her review of Johnny Carrabba’s new restaurant on Kirby Dr.: “The narrative at Grace’s is one of unironic kitsch, a longing for the good old days that were only good for a select few. The menu speaks volumes about Houston, but about a Houston we are far removed from not only in time but in attitude. We are not a Houston whose provincial understanding of the world at large is manifested in clumsy, token ways; we are a Houston of effortless inclusiveness. We are a city of weavers. We are a city of builders and big ideas, not sad, sweaty plates of tuna or bland, underseasoned steaks. We are also a city that knows where to get a good tampiqueña plate for less than $22, and a city that knows better than to employ ‘Chinese Takeout’ font for the two Asian dishes on a menu. But hey — at least Grace’s has ample parking and excellent service, which goes pretty far these days.” [Houstonia; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Loren A.

05/05/14 10:45am

Replat Signs for Kirby Collection, Kirby Dr. at Colquitt St., Upper Kirby, Houston

Replat Signs for Kirby Collection, Kirby Dr. at Colquitt St., Upper Kirby, HoustonRenderings and reports of a giant mixed-use development that would swallow up the entire block on the west side of Kirby Dr. between Colquitt and West Main St. have been shopped around for almost 6 years. But recently there’s been some action: Last week the planning commission approveddeferred for a couple of weeks a hearing on the proposed combination of the various properties on the block into a single “unrestricted” lot. The original hearing date was announced on signs posted in front of the Hendricks Pub (at right), Roak, and the OTC Patio Bar, created back in 2011 from portions of the former Settegast Kopf funeral home, as well as in front of Cafe Express (above). The website of New York real estate firm Thor Equities features the latest renderings of the block’s proposed replacement, called the Kirby Collection:

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Collecting Kirby
04/09/14 10:00am

Rendering of the Proposed Collection on Kirby, 3200 Kirby Dr., Upper Kirby, Houston

The website of New York real estate firm Thor Equities has switched out the renderings for the full-block Kirby Collection mixed-use development it’s been threatening to build on the west side of Kirby Dr. between Colquitt and W. Main St. for almost 6 years now. And the new Collection drawing collection does look pretty whizzy. It appears to show 2 levels of retail facing Kirby, a dozen-or-so-story office tower along Colquitt, and a taller squashed-cylinder-shaped residential tower on top of a parking-garage base hanging back toward Lake St.:

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The Kirby Collection
04/07/14 12:15pm

Installation of Tree and Three Flowers Sculpture on Kirby Dr. South of Westheimer, Upper Kirby, Houston

Here’s an overhead view of the installation over the weekend of the 38-ft.-tall, 7,000-lb. sculpture by James Surls on the previously treeless median between West Ave and the 2727 Kirby condo tower on Kirby Dr., just south of Westheimer. Assembled from bronze and stainless-steel components, Tree and Three Flowers was commissioned by the Upper Kirby District; it’s meant to move in the wind. It’ll join other Surls public works in Houston — at Rice University, in Market Square, and at the Parks and Recreation department headquarters on Gragg St. The Kirby sculpture went in on this base:

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Won’t Grow, but Will Move
03/19/14 2:45pm

River Oaks Glass, 2635 Greenbriar Dr., Upper Kirby, Houston

Proprietor Tim Linehan wants to make sure longtime and potential customers who noted the smashing of the former River Oaks Glass location at 2219 Richmond Ave. in a Swamplot Daily Demolition Report last week don’t think the company has been pulled apart by excavators as well. The company with the “We Fix Humpty Dumpty” sign in the front window escaped to a new converted residence last month — one that’s a full half-mile closer to the actual River Oaks. It had been leasing the Richmond Ave. building for 17 years. “You have not lived until you’ve moved a crystal and porcelain repair shop, piece by piece,” he tells Swamplot. The new spot is a former bungalow at 2635 Greenbriar, just south of Westheimer. This time, says Linehan, “we bought the place and will never move again.”

Photo: James Timothy Linehan

House Broken
02/26/14 4:30pm

59 FEEDER ROAD CONSTRUCTION WITHOUT END Road Construction, North Side Feeder Rd., U.S. 59 West of Kirby Dr., Upper Kirby, Houston“Why is there always construction on the feeders between Weslayan and Kirby especially when it seemed like nothing needed to be done?” writes a Swamplot reader, who is under the impression that the work started sometime last summer. “It looks like they are only redoing the road, not adding sewers, nor laying power lines, and doesn’t seem to making it wider. One side is done and then they come back and do the other side! . . . I hope you can find out why they are tearing up a perfectly good feeder road.” Alas, doing so would spoil the chance to indulge in the fantasy of having encountered along the Southwest Fwy. a truly eternal feeder-road replacement cycle. We’ll illustrate that here with the above photo from earlier today of a fresh concrete placement (with shopping cart) on the north side feeder just west of Kirby Dr. Update, 2/27: Clever reader JD finds an actual report outlining the scope of the reconstruction project from last year posted in an obscure online publicationPhoto: Swamplot inbox

02/26/14 10:15am

NEW LOCAL FOODS IN FORMER TACO MILAGRO ON KIRBY AT WESTHEIMER KINDA ALMOST READY TO OPEN SOON Future Location of Local Foods, 2555 Kirby Dr., Upper Kirby, HoustonThe project manager from homebuilder Frasier Homes busy turning the interior of the shuttered patio-fronting Taco Milagro space at 2555 Kirby Dr. into a second location for Benjy Levit’s upscale sandwich shop Local Foods tells Eater Houston’s Darla Guillen that construction will likely be complete in a couple of weeks. How long after that before it opens for duck confit and falafel on wheat? “Shouldn’t be too far behind that completion date,” Guillen says an employee tells her. But we’re guessing they’ll take down the old Taco signage outside before then. Photos snapped of the corner shopping center space’s innards show a completed serving counter with display case and some colorful banquettes. The first Local Foods took over the former Antone’s space in the Rice Village in 2011. [Eater Houston; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Eater Houston

02/07/14 1:30pm

Interior, 2121 Kirby Dr. Unit 33, Upper Kirby, Houston

The Huntingdon, 2121 Kirby Dr., Upper Kirby, HoustonA slideshow featured on the website of the Houston Business Journal (and noted in our Headlines post this morning) features the 7 most expensive homes sold in Houston last year. Coming in at No. 3 is the full-floor Huntingdon condo unit where former Enron CEO Ken Lay used to live. 2121 Kirby Dr. Unit 33 and its mopey-castle-in-the-sky interior (shown below after the furniture was removed) was listed for sale by his widow, Linda Lay, back in 2010 and featured on Swamplot occasionally over the following years as it hopped on and off the market a few times and descended in fits and starts from an initial (off-market) asking price of $12.8 million to the mid-single-digit millions. MLS and county tax records show the 9-bathroom, 6-elevator, 12,827-sq.-ft. pièd-a-terre with the $10K+ monthly maintenance fee finally sold last February to an entity controlled by another local CEO, for a (still-record-making, but more than half-off) $5.5 million, though the list price had by that time fallen $100K lower.

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Much Lower, but Still Sky High
11/27/13 10:00am

A WESTHEIMER WENDY’S LONG JOURNEY TO A $200 BURGER Construction of 60 Degrees Mastercrafted, 2300 Westheimer Rd., Upper Kirby, HoustonTracing the culinary histories of several switched Houston hotspots, Marene Gustin catalogs successive scenery changes at 2300 Westheimer in Upper Kirby: “And take the new 60 Degrees Mastercrafted on Westheimer Road. The former home of John Moore’s Palazzos Trattoria, this building goes way back. Originally built as a fast food drive through, when I first came to Houston it was Armandos, then something I vaguely remember called Dish either before or after it was an outside the Loop version of Two Chefs Bistro, which had wonderful angels on horseback, a hot appetizer of baked oysters wrapped in bacon by chef Andreas Zierau. Then for a long time it was Arturo Boada’s Beso before becoming Palazzos. And now 60 Degrees Mastercrafted, yet another new restaurant I haven’t gotten to yet. New restaurants opening in Houston in the final months of 2013 have been as numerous as bluebonnets sprouting in springtime.” [Culturemap] Photo: 60 Degrees Mastercrafted

11/21/13 3:00pm

Demolition of Former Elgin-Butler Brick Co. Building, 2619 Westpark Dr., Upper Kirby, Houston

Behold the final moments this afternoon of the Goode Company building at 2619 Westpark, just west of Kirby Dr. A reader sends in these images of the once-swank former Elgin-Butler Brick Company Building, built in 1966 with a fine sampling of the company’s glazed wares attached to its facade and converted in 1988 to an office building and commissary for the extended Goode Co. barbecue-seafood-taqueria-armadillo empire. In this hallowed hall — and the attached warehouse building, totaling more than 14,000 sq. ft. altogether — many a brick was spec’ed and many a pecan pie was congealed. But it’s all going away now.

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Goode Riddance
11/15/13 1:00pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: WHICH HOUSTON HOTSPOTS WILL MERGE FIRST “I think West Ave.-to-Rice Village will become contiguous before Highland Village-to-Galleria ever will.” [Anon22, commenting on Comment of the Day: A Linear Shopping District from Highland Village to the Galleria] Illustration: Lulu