01/19/18 4:30pm

Something new is on the table for the building at the corner of Westheimer and Stoney Brook Dr.: Prime Social, a card and board game venue with an onsite restaurant. The not yet full house is advertising chess, backgammon, cribbage, and a number of poker variants — with 2 daily tournaments (up to “$5,000 GUARANTEED”). Also, “professional armed security” will be present on the premises, according to the house website, in case anything gets out of hand.

Churrasca Brazilian Steakhouse closed down in the 11,448-sq.-ft. building, pictured above, last year. The restaurant took over from sushi joint and nightclub Fish & the Knife, which shuttered in its newly-built space at 7801 Westheimer in 2014, 9 months after opening.

Raising the Stakes
01/18/18 1:30pm

A Swamplot reader sends this photo of new signage fronting Hwy. 6 along the vacant Macy’s parking lot at West Oaks Mall. The space left behind by the former anchor tenant — which closed its doors last year — will be turned into a new store called The Outlet at West Oaks that will specialize in clothing and home goods and open within the next few months. Dress shop Formal Gallery has been announced as the new store’s first retailer. Other additions have been announced for the rest of the mall, HBJ’s Cara Smith reports: a gym, a trampoline park, a daycare facility, a food hall, restaurants, event venues, and some sort of maker space.

1st Emporium, the real estate division of Houston-based Mehta Investments, quietly bought most of the mall — out of bankruptcy, Paul Takahashi reports in the Chronicle —  last August. (The mall’s former owner, Pacific Retail Capital Partners, bought the shopping center out of bankruptcy, too, back in 2009.)

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Anchors Away
01/16/18 1:30pm

Heights Vinyl is getting ready to box up its collection of grooved disks, turntables, and other analog audio items before bolting from the building it shares with Cat Veterinary Clinic at 3122 White Oak Dr. (The record store’s former neighbor and industry peer — 3mA Audio — moved out of the space directly next to the vet’s office last year.) Last April, an entity connected to developer Ancorian bought the 8,900-sq.-ft. strip — as well as the adjacent apartment building at 3110 White Oak.

On Sunday, Heights Vinyl announced via Facebook that it would be moving to a Fifth Ward warehouse building south of I-10 at 3301 Cline St. That building is divided into 2 tenant spaces — Heights Vinyl will take over the one shown below, fronting the parking lot along Grove St.:

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Fifth Ward Bound
01/12/18 4:00pm

There’s some news about the space next door to Athleta in the Rice Village Arcade shopping center on University Blvd. where mannequins were spotted limbering up on the sidewalk the other day: it’s about to shut down. A source tells Swamplot that national retailer Yankee Candle will close the store — one of 8 locations in the Houston area — on January 28.

A sign in the storefront window announces its last big blowout:

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Leaving the Village
01/11/18 3:30pm

LOCAL VICTIMS OF THE NATIONWIDE SAM’S CLUB CLOSINGS: SOUTH LOOP, ELDRIDGE PKWY., NEW CANEY The Sam’s Club that serves as the terminus of Metro’s red line closed abruptly today along with one other Houston store in the shopping center on Westheimer at Eldridge Pkwy., and one in New Caney. The South Loop store occupies a 14-acre parcel of land west of the AutoNation car dealership and north of the Fanin South Metro stop. Opened last year, the New Caney store was the newest of the 3 to close. The shut downs come as part of 63 nationwide that parent company Walmart announced today. 11 stores are still open across the Houston area. [KHOU] Photo: Jason Miles

01/10/18 4:45pm

The pile of signage lying on the grass in the photo above is on its way up over the front door of Ethiopian restaurant Blue Nile ahead of its planned opening on Saturday at 3030 Audley St., just off Westheimer. Blue Nile is expanding to Upper Kirby from its original location on Richmond between Gessner and Fondren, which opened in 1994. Luigi’s Cucina Italiana closed down in the gabled building last year after moving into it from Galveston in 2014.

The new restaurant’s signs are replacing Luigi’s old ones — now fully unlit and unmounted:

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Cherry-Picked
01/09/18 12:30pm

Just how many would-be customers have been pulling up to the Golden Bagels & Coffee storefront at the corner of White Oak and Oxford, yanking on the locked front door, then walking away? Enough that the proprietors have seen fit to post a handwritten sign this morning telling them they’ll SEE YOU TOMORROW. The Heights’ first-ever bagel shop has already received 3 reviews on Yelp — one a 1-star rating (since upgraded to 3 stars) knocking the establishment for not being open this past Sunday even though the hours painted on the front door suggest otherwise, and two 5-star reviews submitted with the intention to counterbalance the first, noting that the shop at 3119 White Oak Dr. has not yet opened for business.

Photo: Swamplot inbox

Heights Bagel Stakeout
01/09/18 11:30am

The blue dot stuck on the window of West Elm’s Highland Village furniture gallery announces the store’s plans to decamp from its spot below and next to RA Sushi, near the eastern side of the shopping center on January 21. Both West Elm and RA Sushi’s only other Houston locations are at CityCentre. That West Elm location opened in 2015, while the current spot at 3922 Westheimer has been in business for over 9 years.

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Furniture Move-Out
01/02/18 4:30pm

Flower Child — the health-minded restaurant that announced it was coming to Houston back in October — will take over the space that houses women’s clothing boutique BB1 Classic in the Cafe Express building at Uptown Park. Bidding is already underway for construction that will turn the 2-story, corner-side store into the new restaurant, whose owners already run North Italia and True Food Kitchen, both located in the same shopping center just south of Uptown Park on Post Oak Blvd. at the corner of San Felipe St.

Ads for a moving sale were posted on the high-fashion retailer’s Facebook page last Thursday. BB1 Classic’s current location opened in 2003. Before that, the store had spots in Memorial City, south of Uptown Park on Post Oak, in River Oaks, and in the Galleria.

Photo: BB1 Classic

Dining in Style
12/22/17 2:00pm

With the recent move of G&G Model Shop, the strip mall at the corner of Shepherd and the eastbound 59 feeder road has become a senior center for stores that spent time in Rice Village back in the day. The photo above shows the 72-year-old model shop — a popular destination for Rice and UH architecture students, as well as model train enthusiasts — 2 doors down from fellow old-timer Times Barber Shop, which opened its original location in the Village before relocating 3 times and landing in strip center just north of Boulevard Oaks in 2007. G&G sold its 2522 Times Blvd. spot — home to the shop for 63 years — on August 17 and closed down 2 days later. The new location opened on August 29 in the 2029 Southwest Fwy. storefront abandoned several years ago by ticket reseller Ticket Connection.

Nan’s Comics and Games, pictured above to the left of G&G’s new location, was also a Rice Village tenant in the mid-60s before replacing Blue and Gray Pizza at 2011 Southwest Fwy. in 1988.

A sign from Pipeline Realty now lists the former G&G site for lease:

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G&G Model Shop
12/19/17 10:15am

YES, THE HARP ON RICHMOND AVE IS CLOSING DOWN There’s a reason why Braun Enterprises has been trying to find a new tenant to replace the Harp at 1625 Richmond: it turns out that the bar’s founder, Declan Plunkett, is retiring, Craig Hlavaty reports. The Ireland transplant plans to close the 18-year-old bar when the lease expires at the end of February, meaning there won’t be a St. Patrick’s Day celebration at the Harp next year: “Plunkett is planning a weeklong bash to see the bar off. ‘We might sell some of the stuff off the walls for people who have been such dedicated patrons,’ Plunkett says.” [Houston Chronicle; previously on SwamplotPhoto: Braun Enterprises

12/15/17 4:00pm

Keeping with its tradition of opening restaurants in clusters, Goode Co. Kitchen and Cantina will open Monday just west of an existing Goode Co. Barbeque. Just Clifford Rd. and 3 structures — a 3-story office, Saltgrass Steak House, and Carter’s Country gun store — separate the new Goode Co. location from the existing one at 8911 Katy Fwy. The new restaurant will open in the former Mason Jar Restaurant & Cafe pictured above at 9005 Katy Fwy., a 6,500-sq.-ft. building that’s been closed since the lease ran out last year.

Goode Co. opened its first Kitchen and Cantina restaurant 3 months ago in the same building as an existing Goode Co. Barbeque in Shenandoah. In Upper Kirby, the 40-year-old chain’s original barbecue spot sits within 2 blocks of 3 other Goode Co. restaurants.

The 9005 Katy Fwy. restaurant will be the brand’s 9th store total.

Photos: Barry B. (Mason Jar), Goode Co. (Kitchen and Cantina)

Kitchen and Cantina
12/14/17 12:45pm

The former packaging warehouse at 7800 Washington — on its way to being reworked so that offices, furniture showrooms, and a restaurant can move into it, likely next year — already has a new tenant in place: The Study, a pop-up gallery and shop selling prints, greeting cards, and design-y gifts. Los Angeles-based artist Jacqueline Levine runs the store, which opened late last month in the southeast corner of the 66,000-sq.-ft. building.

Levine’s father, Larry Levine, is hoping a restaurant will take over the space once more of the building is ready for tenants. He’s the president of Levcor, the development firm that bought the building last year. The Study will be open through January, although it’ll take some holiday time off beginning on December 24.

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The Study
12/11/17 12:00pm

A new banner just tacked to the forehead of the building on Richmond Ave., barely east of I-610 announces what’s due to move in: a second Galleria-area showroom for Nazar’s Fine Jewelry. The photo at top, sent in by an on-the-spot Swamplot reader, shows workers getting a boost to place the sign at sundown on Sunday. The northeast crotch of the 59-West Loop interchange is visible south of the building at 4901 Richmond.

Interior renovation permits for the 25,890-sq.-ft. building — formerly home to Morton Kuehnert Auctioneers & Appraisers, and, even more formerly, to Parvizian Signature Rugs — were filed in September. Before it closed down in October 2016, the auction house’s windows were covered with photos of artifacts:

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Richmond Riches
11/29/17 5:00pm

Work is almost complete on Pipeline Realty’s conversion of the 2-story office building at 2617 Bissonnet (seen at top in a recent photo) into a new second-story coworking space called Local Office. The 13,500-sq.-ft. building, pictured above before the 2 trees standing in front were removed and larger windows were poked into its north and west facades, previously served as the offices of Industrial Audio/Video.

Local Office, due to open sometime next month, will be joined early next year by a ground-floor coffee shop, labeled “Local Coffee” on the rendering below but more likely to be a third outlet of the growing local Cavo Coffee chain:

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Offices of West University