JOE’S CRAB SHACK IS ALREADY HALF-GONE FROM HOUSTON If you’re willing to count Galveston, as of this week the number of Houston-area locations of seafood chain Joe’s Crab Shack is down to 3, cut in half after the abrupt closures of the Gulf Fwy. at Fuqua (pictured), North Fwy. at Airtex, and Pearland (3239 Silverlake Village Dr., near 288) restaurants. Nationwide, more than 25 of the chain’s 112 locations have been shuttered, ahead of a scheduled Thursday bankruptcy hearing for chain owner Ignite Restaurant Group at which a $55 million sale to former owner Landry’s is expected to be approved. (Landry’s sold the chain in 2006 for $192 million, to a private equity firm that later spun out Ignite as a separate entity.) The Joe’s Crab Shack locations in Galveston (at Seawall Blvd. near 35th), Humble (across I-69 from the Deerbrook Mall) and on Hwy. 6 (between the West Oaks Mall and Briar Forest Dr.) are still open. [Consumerist, via HBJ] Photo of Joe’s Crab Shack at 12400 Gulf Fwy.: Camren O.
MORE HOUSTON RETAIL BREAKUPS: ALFRED ANGELO BRIDAL CALLS IT QUITS Bridesmaid- and wedding-dress store Alfred Angelo appears to be shuttering all 62 of its locations nationwide, amid reports of a possible sudden bankruptcy filing. That would leave the Galleria-area Al’s Formal Wear all alone — it sits next door to the Alfred Angelo Bridal in the strip shopping center at 1801 Post Oak Blvd. It should leave the Al’s Formal Wear in the Baybrook Square shopping center kinda lonely too — it faces the Gulf Fwy. right next door to the Alfred Angelo Bridal at 1201 W. Bay Area Blvd. in Webster. The third Houston-area Alfred Angelo location — pictured above in the Commons at Willowbrook shopping center, across from the Willowbrook Mall at 7550-A FM 1960 West — is a little more sequestered from its tuxedo counterpart: Alfred Angelo sits between a DSW Shoe Warehouse and a Ross Dress for Less; the Al’s Formal Wear is wedged between a Panda Express and a Beck’s Prime on the opposite side of the shopping center parking lot. [abc13] Photo: Alfred Angelo Bridal
HUNKY DORY AND BERNADINE’S ARE SHUTTING DOWN NEXT WEEK AFTER ALL The scandal– and bankruptcy-embroiled Treadsack Group just announced that both Hunky Dory Tavern and Bernadine’s are closing next week. After the company announced in late March that both restaurants would stay open for the time being, the last day of action for each is now set as May 24th. The expanding group of Killen’s meat vendors announced on Monday that it had snagged Bernadine’s chef Graham Laborde (who stepped in to run Hunky Dory’s kitchen too, after Richard Knight left in February). No related updates from also-in-Chapter-11 Down House, or any of the other restaurants in the group. [Previously on Swamplot] Photo: Hunky Dory
HUNKY DORY AND BERNADINE’S ARE NOT DEAD YET In a statement posted simultaneously yesterday to the Bernadine’s and Hunky Dory Tavern Facebook pages, Treadsack’s management team says the twin restaurants at 1801 N. Shepherd (along with the company’s remaining establishments: Down House, D&T Tavern, and Johnny’s Gold Brick) remain open — and that it’s hoping customers will support the decision by continuing to eat there: “We’ve filed Chapter 11 Bankruptcy for Hunky Dory and Bernadine’s so we can restructure our debt and continue to operate. This was a very difficult decision, and not one we came to lightly, but the chance to save the businesses that all of our employees have worked so hard to build and so many of you, our guests, have supported, made it a risk worth taking. We love these restaurants and will continue to fight for them.” [Eater Houston; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Hunky Dory
WE’VE REACHED CHAPTER 11 IN THE HUNKY DORY, BERNADINE’S STORY Here’s an update to continuing reports on the financial health of the Treadsack restaurant group, the company behind Heights-area establishments Down House, D&T Drive Inn, Johnny’s Gold Brick, Hunky Dory, Bernadine’s, Foreign Correspondents, and Canard: Mothership Ventures, LLC, an entity owned by Treadsack partner Chris Cusack and — according to Houston Press reporter Craig Malisow, the business entity that operates as Bernadine’s and Hunky Dory — filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection over this past weekend. Foreign Correspondents and its next-door-neighbor bar Canard closed for business in the shopping center at 4721 N. Main St. suddenly at the end of last year; in February, Malisow published a detailed saga of payroll and tax problems behind the shutdown, alleging Treadsack restaurants had become subject to IRS and state liens totaling more than $1.3 million, and that at one point the Texas Comptroller’s office had threatened a seizure of assets at Down House if taxes were not paid. Bernadine’s and Hunky Dory have been operating since late 2015 in a new building constructed for them at the corner of 18th St. and N. Shepherd. Update, 1:30 pm: An investor has filed suit against the owners of Treadsack, the Houston Press now reports. Craig Malisow also notes that the debtor in the bankruptcy filing has been granted funds to pay for the next employee paychecks. Photo: Hunky Dory
32 OF 77 HOUSTON AREA RADIO SHACKS ARE ON THE CLOSURE LIST ALREADY Will that Radio Shack near you be closing, now that the electronics chain has declared bankruptcy? Probably. Of its 4,000 U.S. stores, up to 1,750 appear to be slated to become locations for mobile phone company Sprint. Separately, Radio Shack released on its website a list of 1,784 “potential store closures” — without noting explicitly if the identified locations, listed in 3 separate tranches, were headed for rebranding or outright shuttering. 32 of those stores are in the Houston area. [Quartz; list] Photo of Radio Shack at 4367 Kingwood Dr. (not on the closure list): Ms. Ruby O
COMMENT OF THE DAY: POLLUTION CREDITORS “It’s good to see that the Feds will help clean up the CES Environmental Services site. I’m of the opinion that bankruptcy law should be revised to require that environmental clean-up be paid for before creditors can be paid. It would help in cases like this, but it would also make lenders push dirty industries to clean up their act. Companies with bad environmental records would feel it in their ability to get credit.” [ZAW, commenting on Predicting Houston Real Estate Hotspots; Drinking Water from Lake Conroe] Illustration: Lulu
CAMERA STORES CRYING WOLF Didn’t the country’s biggest retail camera chain already declare bankruptcy and close a bunch of its Wolf Camera and Ritz Camera stores in Houston? Yeah, but that was back in 2009; now the successor company is going down that path again, a couple years after bouncing out of bankruptcy protection. In a news release, the company’s restructuring officer makes it all sound like part of a pretty picture: “To achieve our strategic vision of a super-store chain offering unique value-added services . . . it became necessary to implement this vision through a Chapter 11 filing.” Ritz Camera & Image, which has its headquarters in Maryland, is “evaluating which of its 265 stores to close, including at least three stores in the Houston area.” [Houston Business Journal; previously on Swamplot]] Photo of Rice Village store: Wolf Camera
DIGGING OUT FROM HEAVEN ON EARTH Updated task list for the investor group that bought the dilapidated and long-vacant Heaven on Earth Plaza Hotel at 801 St. Joseph Pkwy. at Travis St. Downtown 3 years ago: 1) Pay off $4.2 million mortgage on property; 2) work way out of bankruptcy (declared just last week, to avoid foreclosure); 3) close on $22 million construction loan to redevelop the 31-story former Holiday Inn (and later Days Inn) into an “as economy class as possible” hotel. Meanwhile, New Era Hospitality — the group that bought the property in 2008 from a fund connected to the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi — recently spent around $30,000 to secure the building, after receiving a stream of municipal citations for “dangerous building parts, visual blight, unsecured entrances, and signs of urine and bodily fluids.” The project’s general contractor tells Purva Patel that plans to turn the gutted property into an “upscale” hotel have been scaled back. [Houston Chronicle; previously on Swamplot] Photo: arch-ive.org
COMMENT OF THE DAY: BORDERS BIDS YOU ADIEU “Do what I did at my store when they announced it was liquidating in February. Immediately unplug the wi-fi router. Immediately section-off the cafe with caution tape. Immediately move all of the seating off the sales floor. This isn’t the time to lounge around, it’s the time to buy shit and get the fuck out. It’s also not the place to take your morning shit anymore, so make sure to also permanently close the restrooms to the public.” [Chris, commenting on Borders Liquidation Sales Begin]
BORDERS LIQUIDATION SALES BEGIN Starting today: going-out-of-business sales at all Borders bookstore locations nationwide, including the 6 hereabouts: on West Alabama at Kirby, in Meyerland Plaza, in the Galleria, in The Woodlands, Webster, and at IAH. Books-A-Million is in talks with the bankrupt chain to assume the leases and inventory of as many as 30 Borders locations, but none of them are in Houston. The only possible Texas takeover on the list is in San Antonio. [Washington Post] Photo: Pedro Vit
BORDERS SHOWDOWN Only one bid came in for bankrupt bookseller Borders Group by Sunday’s deadline — and it’s from a liquidator. An auction of the company’s assets is scheduled for Tuesday afternoon; going-out-of-business sales could begin as early as Friday. Back in February, Barnes & Noble CEO William Lynch said his company might be interested in taking over a few of the remaining 400 Borders locations. Six of them are in Houston. [Publisher’s Weekly; Lynch statement; previously on Swamplot]
Whatever happened to that Park 8 condo tower, hospital, and strip-mall development planned for Beltway 8 next to Arthur Storey Park, just south of Bellaire Blvd.? The Chronicle‘s Purva Patel surveys the wreckage of the self-styled “Land of Oz”: The highrise project has long been in bankruptcy, the contractor and lender are battling over ownership of the land in court, and 2 different groups of investors and condo buyers are suing developer David Wu for their investment losses (totaling more than $2 million), alleging he has or had no intention or ability to complete the project, and that he misled them about funding and leasing commitments. Neither Wu nor his attorney would respond to the reporter’s questions.
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GULF FREEWAY OUTLET MALL SITE: UP FOR GRABS? A possible complication in those plans to put a new 95-store outlet mall between the Big League Dreams sports complex and the Bay Colony shopping center west of the Gulf Freeway in League City: The Galveston County Daily News‘s Laura Elder reports that the 35 acres of land Tanger Factory Outlet Centers was hoping to purchase out of bankruptcy for $8.7 million will be going up for auction instead in just 10 days. A bankruptcy court ordered the sale last week. Tanger announced the project in January, just days after the Simon Property Group announced its plans to build another outlet center, the 100-store Galveston Premium Outlets, just 4 miles to the south, in Texas City. [Laura Elder’s Buzz Blog; previously on Swamplot] Rendering: Tanger Outlets
59 BORDERS: THE END Late addition to the Borders Books store closing list: The company’s 27,483-sq.-ft. store at that retention-pond-by-the-freeway shopping center in Stafford, Fountains on the Lake. The Stafford location is expected to be the only Houston-area casualty of the company’s bankruptcy, and is scheduled to close by “late May.” It and 2 dozen other stores around the country were added to the 200-store axe list at the end of last week. [Revised closing list (PDF); previously on Swamplot] Photo: Melissa M.