03/12/18 10:30am

Banners for Cedars Tapas Bar — the new restaurant on its way to 403 W. Gray — are now covering up both the plywood board on the building’s forehead and the sign left over from Ship & Shield’s tenancy in the space. The Viking-themed restaurant abandoned the building last December, and property owner Braun Realty is now waiting on the new Lebanese bakery to move in.

Braun bought the the 2,055-sq.-ft. restaurant building in 2016, the same year Ship & Shield took it over from Byzantio’s. Since then, the developer has put up a new retail building on the once-vacant lot just east of restaurant, near Taft St. Its west side is visible beyond Cedars’ sign in the photo above.

Photos: Swamplot inbox

North Montrose Makeover
03/07/18 1:30pm

Skinny Rita’s is about halfway through its last stand in Montrose this afternoon, thanks to the excavator now parked on what used to be its patio. The health-minded Mexican restaurant at 607 W. Gray St. sat vacant since its owners closed the place down last February. Nine months later, The Platform Group snatched up the former cantina along with its neighbor, the Traci Scott Hair Salon (visible beyond the wrecking arm in the photo at top), where business is proceeding as usual despite the racket next door.

A few more angles on the tear down show piles of rubble getting ready to overflow the patio fencing:


Montrose Pair Minus One
03/05/18 4:45pm

Now that construction work on the new retail structure Braun Enterprises is developing at 311 W. Gray has headed indoors, a collection of building permits up on the window near the building’s northwest corner names one of its occupants: Me’Lange Restaurant. Last spring, the Chronicle reported that a second location of Kirby fast food spot Viet’s Express would move into the new strip alongside an office of Feather & Fur Animal Hospital. Back then, the 18,221-sq.-ft. plot just west of West Gray Cleaners on the corner of Taft St. was still just a vacant lot; construction began later in 2017.

A parking lot that runs lengthwise behind the building wraps around its west side as it heads for the curb cut on W. Gray:


Cultural Melange
02/22/18 11:30am

Radom Capital is entertaining 2 different ideas for the former Stages theater on the block of Rosine across D’Amico St. from its planned new complex: either a hotel or a combination of retail, restaurant, and office tenants. The developer bought Stages’ current spot in the long structure at 3201 Allen Pkwy — built in 1929 to house the Star Engraving Company — as well as the warehouse behind it last year. Renovations are now slated to begin on both the Star building and the warehouse behind it — both indicated in the site plan above — once the theater takes off in 2019.

The rendering of the warehouse at top put out by Radom shows new openings in its exterior, including a boxy balcony on its second floor and an entrance at ground level fronting D’Amico. An outdoor staircase ascends from where the greens-skinned building meets its western neighbor — the parking garage for the Reata at River Oaks condos — and heads up to a second-story entrance. Stages’ new theater sits across D’Amico, opposite a front lawn at the other end of the colorful crosswalk on the left.

Here’s a look at the new playhouse — dubbed The Gordy — sitting in its own renovated warehouse with touch ups by architecture firm Gensler:


North Montrose Ensemble
02/16/18 10:30am

Shake Shack has taken over the lease on the building Burger King left last month at the corner of Westheimer and Lincoln, a block west of Montrose. The fast-casual restaurant with 2 current Houston locations and one in the works signed off last week on at least a 15-year residency at 1002 Westheimer, next to Blacksmith. Behind the soon-to-be re-burgerized building’s frontage on Westheimer — shown above — a parking lot backs up to California St. along Lincoln.

Photo: MontroseResident

Fast Food Turnover
02/12/18 2:15pm

Landlord Kensinger Donnelly has replaced previous flyers claiming that the Mattress 1 One location on the corner of W. Alabama and Shepherd was shut down for “renovations” with the new one pictured above declaring it has locked the retailer out of its spot at the far north of the strip that includes Mega DJ and Jenni’s Noodle House, across from CVS. Just south at the corner of Shepherd and Richmond, Mattress Overstock is another casualty of the continuing mattress shrinkage trend — it shuttered toward the end of last year.

Now your best bet for bedding is to head north on Shepherd to Westheimer where a Mattress 1 One and competing Mattress Firm have been holding a standoff just south of the intersection since the former showed up on the west side of the street in 2014. It’s one of the 12 Mattress 1 One locations that exist within a 5 mile radius of the shuttered store off W. Alabama — down from 15 last October.

Photos: Swamplot inbox

Down for the Count
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.

01/29/18 12:45pm

The newly built shopping center on the corner of W. Alabama and Mandell St. is of the business in the front, parking in the back variety — and will soon be even more so when 2 restaurants and a dentist’s office open in its ground floor. BuffBurger, new Vietnamese restaurant Lúa Viet Kitchen, and Lovett Dental are all slated to debut in the gray box with what look like wooden slats on its forehead, under construction since last January opposite the Menil’s territory in Montrose. TABC signage now up in BuffBurger’s window near the corner shows that the store — on its way to Mandell Place from its original location on Wirt Rd. — is seeking beverage permits ahead of its first business day.

A view from the sidewalk shows where the ground floor beef joint will fit in a 2,500-sq.-ft. space below the strip’s lettered-up corner tower:


New Fillings
01/26/18 4:30pm

The lights are off and the gas station signs have come down from the 2,770-sq.-ft. building formerly home to Doc’s Motorworks Bar & Grill on the corner of Westheimer and Graustark St. The nighttime photo above shows the auto-themed Montrose restaurant before it closed down at the end of last year.

Underneath the restaurant’s sign on Westheimer, the rusted flatbed truck has also hit the road from its long-term parking spot:


A Montrose Goodbye
01/25/18 11:30am

A Swamplot reader sends photos of the now see-through drive-thru signage on the north side of Burger King’s former building at 1002 Westheimer, across the street from the Westmont Shopping Center home to Spec’s, Half Price Books, and a Mattress Firm. The restaurant abdicated earlier this week. Yesterday morning, surveyors showed up to look around the property, leaving behind the wooden marker shown at the bottom of the image at top.

Another shot from the fast food lane adjacent to Blacksmith looks toward the restaurant’s parking lot on California St.:


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
12/15/17 11:30am

A flyer put out by Braun Enterprises indicates that the Harp Irish Pub’s spot at 1625 Richmond Ave is available for lease. A partnership controlled by Braun bought the decked-out bar along with its 3 eastern neighbors (at that time Orange Bar, Maria Selma Mexican Restaurant, and Lucky Burger) in 2011. Since then, Lucky Burger was replaced by Oui Banh Mi on the corner of Richmond and Mandel St., Orange Bar ceded its space to Revelry on Richmond, and Maria Selma reopened — then closed — as Texas Shrimp Shack.

Texas Shrimp Shack’s vacant lot at 1617 Richmond, right next to the Harp, is also up for lease.


Castle Court
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:


11/20/17 2:00pm

The metal dome situated street-side at the Annunciation Orthodox Cathedral on the corner of Yoakum and Kipling for just under a month has been lifted and installed atop the church’s sanctuary. The photo at top shows the dome in its earthly state just over a week ago. Members of a crowd that watched its ascension early Saturday morning snapped pictures showing the half-sphere, now sheathed, being placed via crane on top of the metal dock that now exalts it:


Annunciation Orthodox