“Sometimes I look back and wonder WHAT WAS I THINKING,” writes Jason Perry in a press release he sent to local media outlets announcing the closure of his late-night and after-hours establishment near Montrose and Fairview — and its coming reincarnation as a perhaps quainter little bistro. “Did I really open a penis shaped muffin restaurant, did I really spend more than half of a million dollars on a restaurant that promised to toss peoples salad[?]”
Housed in a 1940 foursquare at 2310 Converse St., the MuffinMan, which opened only a few months ago, actually promised customers a bit more than that. Perry’s possibly NSFW farewell-to-muffins press release explains it best:
The restaurant promised to “toss” customers salads and give an experience similar to going to grandma’s (Gay slang for visiting the bath-House). The restaurant served penis shaped muffins at special events and was the target of complaints by local neighbors.
Complaints? About what?
Muffinman was a controversial restaurant that drew criticism from its inception when it posted a large billboard in front of the restaurant announcing its opinion that a “four inch muffin is better than an eight inch cock.”
Well now — is it really necessary to exaggerate the sizes of these things? That “large billboard” — later taken down and stored on the side of the property — actually measured only about 6 ft. by 6 ft., Perry admits to Swamplot. He says he still meets people who never ate at his restaurant but “just know it by that slogan.” According to Perry one of those people was the MuffinMan’s across-the-street neighbor, who the restaurant owner claims “was so mad he piled a couple hundred dead fish in his parking lot to smoke out” the restaurant with the “horrible smell and flies.” But the MuffinMan persevered. “The city removed the fish 3 months later,” he tells Swamplot.
The city shut down the MuffinMan in late September. Among its problems: the restaurant hadn’t obtained a certificate of occupancy, a valid food permit, or received any inspections by the health department. Plus there were a few beer-license issues with TABC. “It was as if Perry had opened the restaurant on a whim without going through any proper channels whatsoever,” comments Houston Press food critic Katharine Shillcut.
Perhaps Perry’s most vexing problem was meeting city parking requirements. He claims the planning department was enforcing its off-street minimums selectively, requiring him to buy 5 mechanical lifts to create more spaces on his property without making similar demands on other restaurants operating in the same neighborhood. The Neartown Association was working hard to keep MuffinMan closed, he complained to city council on September 28th. (Among the association’s complaints: the restaurant stayed open until 5 a.m. in what members considered a residential neighborhood — even though it’s 2 blocks north of Montrose nightclubs South Beach and JR’s.) “I sober up drunk people. I take drunk drivers off the road,” Perry explained in a long monologue before council that he later posted to YouTube.
But Perry has now decided to let it all go. “I want to thank everyone who made it the greatest penis shaped muffin restaurant houston Had,” he announced on the MuffinMan Facebook page yesterday. He says he’s giving up on his fight to reopen MuffinMan and will instead open a new restaurant in the space, which he’s calling Bistro Valmont. “We are planning on having the building cleansed by Wiccan Witch to get rid of the negative energy,” he declares in his press release. Perry promises more details when the new restaurant is closer to opening.
- MuffinMan at Houston City Council [YouTube]
- The Strange Saga of The Muffin Man [Eating Our Words]
- Neartown meeting – August 2010 [Richwood Place]
Photos: Candace Garcia