11/16/17 2:45pm

Teevee station KHOU is giving up on its 3.2-acre bayou-side home on Allen Pkwy. after repeated flooding and will soon be listing it for sale, according to a staff member’s Facebook post. The organization did file a permit for $594,740 worth of restoration work after Harvey between August and October, and hired 2 services to help with the clean-up — including Lewisville-based MrRestore, pictured above outside the building on August 30. Before Harvey, the studio enjoyed a 16-year dry run bookended by waters from Tropical Storm Allison back in 2001.

The 52,000-sq.-ft. studio, home to Channel 11 for 57 years, took on 5 ft. of water during the recent storm, forcing its staff to relocate broadcasting activity 3 times within the same day: first to a second floor conference room, then 2 blocks east on Allen Pkwy. to the Federal Reserve Bank, and finally to Houston Public Media’s office on Elgin St. just off I-45, where the news operation has now been headquartered for just over 2 months. That co-location wouldn’t be permanent, KHOU meteorologist Brooks Garner reported last month, although he indicated at that time that the station had not as yet decided whether to return home or seek a new venue.

Photos tweeted out by KHOU reporters of their original home showed the building at 1945 Allen Pkwy. taking on water during the storm. Here’s what the lobby looked like:

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Anchors Away
11/15/17 3:00pm

It’s official: the 255-ft.-long drive-thru car wash at Buc-ee’s’s new Katy location off I-10 at Cane Island Pkwy. now qualifies as the longest in the world, according to Guinness World Records. Traversing the tunnel takes cars about 5 minutes, during which time in-wash light effects entertain. Don’t have a dirty car of your own in Katy? There are videos.

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Buc-ee’s World Record
11/13/17 1:00pm

The retirement sale sign up now in front of Montalbano Tire and Auto Service at 1302 Houston Ave isn’t just advertising tire replacement: Owner Tony Montalbano sent out a letter last week to customers informing them that the 76-year-old business would close on November 17, though a source tells Swamplot that date has since been pushed back about a week. The 13,915 sq.-ft. car care building on the corner of Houston Ave and Dart St. went up in 1960 and sits on just over three-quarters of an acre. The first photo above shows the store’s front entrance on the corner looking north up Houston Ave.

Across Houston Ave, Montalbano’s much larger neighbor of the same surname — Montalbano Lumber — remains open for business.

Photos: Marc Longoria

First Ward
11/03/17 4:45pm

Sable Gate Winery, a local affiliate of the Waters Edge chain of franchised vineyard-less wineries, has its grand opening tomorrow at 2600 Travis St., just south of McGowen and behind Reef in Midtown. The new wine spot, which began serving last weekend, took over the space from GAGE Lounge. Customers who want to make, cork, and bottle their own-label varieties at Sable Gate can choose from the chain’s selection of pre-crushed grapes shipped in from more vineyard-friendly climes around the world; if you’re in a greater hurry than the 5 to 7 weeks it normally takes to ferment and blend a batch of imported grape must, you can commandeer one Sable Gate’s already got going — or just order a glass at the bar.

Photos: Sable Gate Winery

Sable Gate Winery
11/02/17 11:30am

Specialty hot dog shop and bakery Happy Fatz closed its bungalow doors for good yesterday at 3510 White Oak Dr. — after 6 and a half years in the Heights. “The uphill battle with the ‘neighboring’ house for the last 2 years became a greater challenge than expected,” reads a brief announcement posted yesterday to the restaurant’s Facebook page. A new 2-story, 4,400-sq.-ft. home was constructed last year on an adjacent property — a portion of which formerly served as a patio and parking lot for the restaurant. It’s currently listed for sale.

Happy Fatz’s owners write that they’ll continue to open pop-up shops in the Houston area. But they say they’ll be turning their attention to the Hill Country, opening a restaurant called Wildflour Artisan Bakery & Grill in Canyon Lake.

Photo: Kim W.

Out of the Dog House
10/30/17 3:30pm

A 2-page letter posted to the front door of the Fadi’s Mediterranean Grill in the Westside Plaza shopping center at 8383 Westheimer on Friday explains that the landlord has terminated the lease on the property and is demanding the tenant pay close to $71,000 in back rent. Fadi Dimassi opened the first Fadi’s at this location in 1996; with this closing Fadi’s is now down to 8 locations, including 3 franchised spots in Dallas.

According to the letter, the lease term officially expired at the end of January. Since that time, Texadelphia has moved into the spot next door, replacing the Potbelly Sandwich shop shown in the photo above.

A Swamplot tipster notes the restaurant was open for business on Saturday but locked out on Sunday, with all tables, chairs, and restaurant property still inside. In an interview with the Houston Press in 2015, Dimassi noted that the $18,000-a-month rent his company was paying for the Dunvale location had spurred his interest in purchasing real estate for subsequent locations.

Photo: Miguel Paez

Done with Dunvale
10/25/17 1:45pm

An intrepid mattress-store-monitoring reader notes that the Mattress 1 One (yeah, that’s how the company spells it out) in the northernmost spot of the strip center at S. Shepherd and W. Alabama across from CVS has closed down. Desperate mattress seekers need not worry, though: Plenty more outlets are available to pick up the slack. A note taped to the front door of the spot at 3101 S. Shepherd Dr., which despite the prominently placed Kensinger Donnelly FOR LEASE signs on the space insists that the location is only “closed for renovation,” directs would-be customers to the chain’s nearest still-open store: a full 3 blocks north on Shepherd, just south of Westheimer.

If that location doesn’t work for you, the Texas-and-Florida mattress chain lists a total of 16 Mattress 1 One locations within a 5-mile radius — though that includes the still-listed Shepherd-and-Alabama spot. And don’t forget competitor Mattress Firm, which has 18 locations of its own within that same area.

Photos: Margo

Mattrose
10/19/17 11:00am

Here are a few shots of 195 Yale St. just south of I-10 from yesterday afternoon, showing workers a few letters away from spelling out the long-delayed LA Fitness at the Yale Street Market shopping center. The sign, which faces the freeway, was completed by the end of the day:

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Fitn In
10/16/17 3:30pm

There’s a lockout notice posted to the front door of the ground-floor retail space of the 1100 Smith Garage Downtown on the corner of Dallas St. and Brazos St. Droubi Brothers Mediterranean Grill, at 507A Dallas St. — shown open in the older photo above — is now closed; the restaurant’s website has been taken down.

Here’s the notice:

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Shawarma Gone
10/02/17 1:30pm

Pet Supermarket in Meyerland Plaza has reopened after taking on water after Hurricane Harvey, but it appears to be an exception among big-box stores lined in a row on the former mall site. Signs in front of Old Navy, OfficeMax, and Dressbarn declare the stores are closed — and direct customers to other locations, according to these photos and a report from a Swamplot reader. Here’s the scene in front of Old Navy, where notes in the window declare the store is closed “until further notice“:

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Old Navy Underwater
09/25/17 2:30pm

Fans of the mozzarella with balsamic, black beans & agave with lime curd, or mango & dried chilies ice creams, or the cucumber with cherries or watermelon & parsley sorbets dreamed up by pastry chef Chris Leung and offered this summer by Cloud 10 Creamery in the Rice Village will be happy to learn that the adventurous ice cream shop opened its Heights outpost late last week. Cloud 10 fills the former bungalow at 711 Heights Blvd. — now upgraded to an address of 711A in honor of a separate building added behind it — anchoring one end of the boulevard-facing section of the Heights Mercantile development.

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Cloud 10 Creamery No. 2
09/15/17 4:45pm

POLLO TROPICAL SUNSET Citing “limited awareness” of the brand, the corporate parent of Pollo Tropical has decided not to reopen the last 2 remaining Houston-area locations of the Caribbean chicken fast-food chain after they were both damaged by floodwaters from Hurricane Harvey. Gone for good: the Pollo Tropical on Westheimer Rd. just west of Eldridge and the other at 11400 Broadway just east of Kirby Dr. in Pearland (pictured here). Three other Houston-area Pollo Tropicals closed in April. Fiesta Restaurant Group, which also owns the Taco Cabana chain, said in a release that it was also closing all 4 locations in San Antonio but might reopen as many as 2 of the shuttered restaurants in the region as Taco Cabanas. [BusinessWire; Houston Press] Photo: Fernando C.

09/13/17 1:30pm

A new banner advertising a Christian’s Tailgate (pictured above) went up today on the vine-covered fence in front of the Amazón Grill at 5114 Kirby Dr., directly across from the Burger King between North Blvd. and Bissonnet St. The Cordúa Restaurants fast-casual outlet shut down yesterday after 15 years in the same location. The restaurants’ parent company, which also operates Américas, Artista, and Churrascos, plans to continue Amazón Grill as a delivery-only business.

As of today, the space is being renovated — with plans for a quick turnover and reopening as a fifth location of Christian’s Tailgate Bar & Grill on October 1st.

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Lower Upper Kirby
08/29/17 4:15pm

Just days before Harvey hit Houston, the newest corner restaurant at 1302 Nance St. in Downtown’s old warehouse district looked ready to debut. The photos here, taken by Swamplot reader Will Breaux shortly before the rains came and the waters swelled, show the spot formerly occupied by Oxheart sporting a new exterior paint job and window nameplate.

Inside, renovations had been taking place for months. Proprietor Justin Yu had plans to open Theodore Rex later in August. But the restaurant flooded. Now, he writes, “it might take a little more time to open.”

Photos: Will Breaux

 

To Redo Again
08/18/17 2:15pm

The sign at the Skinny Rita’s Grille at 4002 N. Main St. in Brooke Smith now states that the Mexican restaurant inside has closed, but a note on the door from “Management” is a little less definitive: “This location will be rebranding in the next few weeks and will be temporarily closed,” reads the undated notice — already annotated by a handwritten visitor complaint requesting the information be added to the company’s outgoing phone message. “Please come visit us when we reopen in a few weeks.” The restaurant followed in the footsteps of a sequence of differently branded Mexican restaurants in the same location when it opened at the site, which is bounded by Walton and Melwood streets, in 2014. A Montrose Skinny Rita’s Cantina closed down at 607 W. Gray St. earlier this year, after less than a year of operation.

Photos: Margo

Relabeling