02/02/18 1:15pm

SOUTH BEACH IS TAKING A BREAK IN AVONDALE A bulletin posted on South Beach Houston’s Facebook page announces that the nightclub on the corner of Pacific and Grant streets is closed immediately and indefinitely for “remodeling.” The venue opened in 2001 at 810 Pacific St. in place of owner Charles Armstrong’s previous bar in that location, Heaven. Last December, Armstrong sold the former Montrose Mining Company across the street from South Beach to developer Fred Sharifi. South Beach’s Facebook message now directs would-be club-goers to JR’s Bar & Grill next door — also owned by Armstrong. [South Beach Houston] Photo of South Beach: Lou C.

01/08/18 1:30pm

Is the site of shuttered gay bar Montrose Mining Company destined to become a parking lot for nearby restaurant Baba Yega Cafe? The new owner of Baba Yega, developer Fred Sharifi, bought the 39-year-old bar on the corner of Pacific and Grant streets from longtime proprietor Charles Armstrong last month. When the bar closed in 2016, Armstrong said he was working on plans to bring a new restaurant to the building within 18 months. A sign posted on the door of 805 Pacific St. now directs would-be patrons to one of Armstrong’s other hangouts across Pacific — JR’s Bar & Grill. Above that flyer, a notice from the city dated December 14 — 2 days after the 2,809-sq.-ft. building was sold — tells its owners to stop all unpermitted plumbing and structural work on the site.

Sharifi has now purchased at least 5 Montrose properties within the last 2 years, including Baba Yega, Montrose Mining Company, and 3 sites slated to be part of a project he’s developing on Fairview Ave.one of which was home to Armstrong’s nightclub Meteor. In addition to his projects in Montrose, Sharifi also owns Hungry’s Cafe in Rice Village.

Armstrong still appears to own a vacant, 6,648-sq.-ft. property that wraps around the east side of Montrose Mining Company:


Old Gay Bars of Avondale
12/05/17 3:30pm

There’s nothing left standing at Michelangelo’s Restaurant since its demolition yesterday — except for the tree that used to grow in its dining room, visible in the photo at top. The restaurant’s days had been numbered since March, when its owners sold the building and adjacent parking lot on Westheimer to a developer with plans to build a gym-anchored strip center.

The gym will be Houston’s first Spenga fitness studio, brought here by a Chicago-based chain that signed a 4,011-sq.-ft. lease for the replacement building’s entire second floor back in June. Here it is up above street level:


10/30/17 4:15pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: WE TRIED THAT NO PARKING REQUIREMENTS THING BEFORE, IN AVONDALE “The urban fantasists who don’t believe in minimum parking should school themselves on the economic concept of the free rider and the common law concept of nuisance. They should also research a little of the history behind Houston minimum parking requirements. These regs did not emerge in a vacuum. I lived in Avondale, in Montrose, during the nineties, when it was home to no less than nine bars, multiple restaurants, and other adult businesses, all without parking and no parking requirements. Houston minimum parking requirements arose because of what was going on in Avondale and a few other neighborhoods inside the Loop. The patrons of these bars and restaurants did not and still do not live within Avondale. They all drove to Avondale because there was and is still no other way to get there. The bar owners did not provide parking, choosing instead to impose the costs of their patron parking on the city and the residents of Avondale (free rider). The patrons parked, imbibed, and then proceeded to be drunken asses all night disturbing the peace of the neighborhood (nuisance). Forcing the business owner to bear the costs of patron parking shifts the costs back to the business which benefits from the patronage. It is a reasonable requirement. It also alleviates the nuisance issue by keeping the drunks off the property of other businesses and residences.” [Jardinero1, commenting on Comment of the Day: What Parking Requirements for Bars Really Encourage] Illustration: Lulu

05/01/17 11:30am

A double-decker strip center appears to be planned for 307 Westheimer Rd., which for just shy of 5 decades has been home to Avondale Italian restaurant and house-with-a-tree-in-it Michaelangelo’s. Michaelangelo’s, Inc., sold the property in March to an entity tied to the CEO of Habitat Construction, and a 2,000-sq.-ft. space in the proposed replacement building is currently for lease. Renderings for the strip label the over-the-edge top floor as set aside for a fitness business, and call for a restaurant to take over most of the street level (noting that another tenant has already staked out a small section of the ground floor floorplan):


Rising Above Parking Requirements
05/12/16 12:30pm

604 Westheimer Rd., Lower Westheimer, Houston, 77006

The previously white house at the northwest corner of Westheimer Rd. and Stanford St. now has an edgy new look, along with some some city permits issued to an entity called Beijing Assassin Tattoos in April. The permits mention a tattoo parlor and retail setup in the building, which was bought in 2014 by a legal entity of the Katz family (of never-closes deli fame 2 doors down to the west of Vinoteca Poscol).

A previous set of permits was issued to Beijing Assassin back in early 2015, after which the space opened for a few months as Gods and Monsters e-cigarette supply store. Then a coat of whitewash blotted out the building’s pretty-new-at-the-time murals, shown in part below:


Filling In On Lower Westheimer
03/23/16 5:15pm

Biskit Junkie at former Mango's spot, Taft at Westheimer Rd., Avondale, Houston, 77006

Up top is a fresh snap of the former home of veggie-friendly-cafe-turned-music-club Mango’s, where Biskit Junkie’s new not-quite-I.P.A.-standard signage is in place over the now-grey entryway. The all-biscuit restaurant, from the starch-centric folks who started Jus’ Mac, closed its Oak Forest location at 2925 W. TC Jester in mid-December to focus on what was then revealed to be a move to the corner of Westheimer Rd. and Taft St., rather than the opening of a second location as previously announced.

The building’s current flat grey exterior hides all traces of Mango’s full technicolor exit at the end of 2014, shown below:


Spelling It Out
02/29/16 4:45pm

223 Westheimer Rd., Avondale, Houston, 77006

The pale yellow former house at 223 Westheimer is now sitting quietly behind bars and in several piles. The 1910 Avondale home was sold last March to a corporate entity tied to down-the-road upscale tex-mex restaurant El Tiempo, and a demolition warrant was issued back in July.  A reader notes that the bulldozers finally caught up to the 6-bedroom 5-bathroom structure last week, and the house was rearranged into a few ready-to-remove mounds at the last sighting.


Green Fields of Avondale
02/23/16 1:30pm

Former Montrose Clinic, 215 Westheimer, Avondale, Houston, 77006

The peaked building at at 215 Westheimer Rd., which for 17 years housed the medical organization that evolved from the Montrose Clinic, appears to be headed toward a new gig in cosmetic dentistry. A reader snapped the photo above of a variance request notice outside the property, which was sold in 2013 after what’s now known as Legacy Community Health Services consolidated some of its operations at 1415 California St. The renamed Clinic, which developed to meet the health needs of the Montrose community during the AIDS crisis, moved out of the building in 2011; according to Houstonian Dental’s website, the firm will be moving into a suite at the same address some time later this year, offering both general and cosmetic tooth services.


Legacy Legacy
01/14/16 12:45pm

Focus Refined Eye Care, 515 Westheimer Rd., Avondale, Houston, 77006

Focus Refined Eye Care announced this week that the doors are open at 515 Westheimer Rd., at the far eastern end of the strip center also containing Osaka Japanese, BB’s Donuts, Nu Cuts Hair Salon, and e-cigarette shops The Vapor Lair. The storefront, next to the former home of lapsed-vegan Mexican restaurant Radical Eats, previously housed a Chartway Federal Credit Union branch.

A press release says the new shop will “eliminate the sterility of typical doctor’s visits”— the self-described ‘optometry spa’ will offer patrons alcohol in cocktail form as well as of the lens-cleaning variety, and eye-rubs will be thrown in for good measure at the start of each appointment. The spot will offer high-end tailored glasses (the combined product of new German diagnostic equipment and a fashion consultant).


Wide Open on Westheimer
12/24/15 10:00am

Work at 528 Westheimer, Montrose, Houston, 77006

An excavator and friends were spotted on Westheimer this week having a go at the long-empty lot directly next to upscale Indian-fusion spot Indika.  Also on the agenda were the freshly-empty and moderate-length-of-empty lots next door — all three spaces (520, 524, and 528 Westheimer) are currently held by Rok Bros Holdings.

The central lot, at 524 Westheimer, was demolished shortly after mid-2011; the more recently demolished house on the westernmost lot (528 Westheimer) held LV Massage and a psychic, after the 524 house crossed over into the great beyond.  A request to merge the 3 lots was approved at a Houston Planning Commission meeting on July 10, 2014; the request refers to the space as Rok Bros Westheimer Plaza, and was filed in conjunction with Houston-based Momentum Engineering.

Swamplot reader sfalumberjack sends the twilight snapshot above, along with a few others of equipment on the site (bounded on the other side by The Cat Doctor):


Plaza Predictions for Avondale
05/11/15 3:00pm

Renovations at 202 Westheimer Rd., Montrose, Houston

Neighbors and passers-by have been curious about the renovations taking place at the strip center at the corner of Lower Westheimer and Helena St., where the Hollywood Food & Cigars #3 convenience store at 202 Westheimer Rd. — and its neighbor Tejas Bootskicked off a couple years ago. The building, once home to Baby Giant #2, has recently been painted a bright white; its sign has been denuded, and sidewalk reconstruction work is underway:


From Baby Giant to Mattress Pro?
04/20/15 2:45pm

FORMER WESTHEIMER PLANT HOUSE GOING STEAK Future Home of Bistecca Steak House, 224 Westheimer Rd., Avondale, Montrose, HoustonThe building at 224 Westheimer Rd. in Montrose, on the north side of the street between Helena and Mason St., was long ago home to Bistro 224. Then it became the Plant House. A photo sent in by a reader late last week shows the same structure undergoing another metamorphosis as it transforms into its newest incarnation, a return to its food-serving days. According to building permits taken out for the property, the revamped building will become the Bistecca Steak House once construction is complete. Photo: Sylvia Drew