The founder and public face of 4-state sandwich shop Ike’s Sandwiches, Ike Shehadeh, is about to have his bald, goatee-ed likeness installed in 3 more spots: on the north (top), east, and south (above) sides of the new Heights Central Station shopping center at Heights Blvd. and 11th St. The restaurant signed a lease last year to move into the complex’s east building — reported The Leader‘s Betsy Denson — where it’ll neighbor Shine in the Heights salon, the bakery known as Tiff’s Treats, and 2 forthcoming businesses: Ocean Juice and women’s clothing store RichGirls Boutique.
They all sit across from a new Kolache Shoppe drive-thru and next door to the building Dish Society plans to split with a dentist:
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11th St. Newcomer
A Swamplot reader sends the photo at top showing a bright yellow permit notice for something called Kubo’s Sushi and Washoku up in the window next to Tacodeli’s storefront at 1902 Washington Ave. The portion of the building now sporting the sign — designated suite C — most recently housed a different sushi restaurant dubbed Kukuri, but not for long: It closed last March after just over 6 months in business.
The new Kubo’s sushi spot is backed by the same team behind former Japanese restaurant Kubo’s Sushi Bar & Grill, which closed its second-story spot in the former Rice Village building between Kelvin and Morningside drives in 2016 after about a decade and a half in business.
Photos: Swamplot inbox (sign); Kukuri (restaurant)
Raw Fish Redo
A Swamplot reader who for the past few days has been monitoring changes at the intersection of Westheimer and Voss roads sends the photo at top showing a new Taco Cabana banner strung up on the roadside fast food pad that Pollo Tropical left in 2017. Although the new restaurant’s flavor profile won’t be much different from that of its predecessor, the look of the place appears to be changing quite a bit. So far, the white pergola fronted by Pollo Tropical’s signage on the east side of the structure has been removed and a fresh coat of gray paint has been applied to all sides of building, including the one home to that blue tagline and accompanying palm tree illustration shown opposite the sedan in the photo above.
Also gone: the 4 painted palm-tree window awnings along the south and east sides of the building, each of which fronted its very own live palm tree as shown in the photo. The trees themselves don’t appear to have been disturbed since Pollo Tropical left:
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Staying South of the Border
A new restaurant calling itself Taste Bar + Kitchen now has dibs on the very old, 2-story house on Bagby St. a block north of Elgin that’s been dark (but glowing in its listing photo) since Sterling House closed in it last month. The venture is backed by local chef Don Bowie who’s currently in charge of the kitchen at Flower Child, the good-for-you restaurant that took over BB1 Classic’s spot in Uptown Park last year. (It’s now got another location in the works up in The Woodlands.) On the less healthy side of things, Bowie also had a hand in bringing reality TV star and former Ikette Robbie Montgomery’s St. Louis soul food spot Sweetie Pies to Houston in 2017.
Specific menu items for the new spot at 3015 Bagby haven’t yet been revealed, but on his LinkedIn page Bowie boils it down to “Crafted Cocktails and Food.”
Photos: LoopNet (aerial); Swamplot inbox (close-up)
Coming Midtown Attractions
BELLAIRE FOOD STREET SCRAPS FOOD HALL PLANS, WILL GO FULL STRIP-STYLE INSTEAD
The 10,000-sq.-ft. food hall that had been planned as part of the 24,000-sq.-ft. pan-Asian restaurant building just in side Beltway 8 dubbed Bellaire Food Street will not come to be, reports Eater’s Alaena Hoestetter. Instead, that space will be used to give a 3 more not-yet-named restaurant their own individual storefronts. So far 10 restaurants — Shi Miao Dao, Fat Ni BBQ, Peppery Lunch, Beard Papa’s, Popfancy, Migo, Meet Fresh, Waistation, Chatime, and a South Korean coffee chain called Tom N Toms that serves a “baked sweet potato latte” — have been announced as tenants. Upstairs is reserved for developer Kevin Kan’s office. [Eater Houston; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Bellaire Food Street
A building permit filed yesterday for renovations to the former Brown Bag Deli at 702 Main St. has this familiar name on it: Shake Shack. The photo at top of the storefront’s north side along Capitol St. show its windows completely whited-out to prevent passers-by from getting too curious about what’s going on inside. On Main St., Brown Bag Deli’s December 21 closure notice remains stuck to the front door.
The storefront takes up the northeast corner of the 10-story Great Jones Building and is right next door to the WeWork that arrived in the structure last year. At the opposite, south end of the block, the adjacent Chase Building (formerly known as the Gulf Building) became home last month to Houston’s newest food hall Finn Hall.
Photos: Swamplot inbox
Main and Capitol
Documents put out by Houston’s planning commission reveal that Sweetgreen isn’t the only tenant signed up to take over Doc’s Motorwork’s empty structure at 1303 Westheimer; there’s also a Steel City Pops on the way to the back of the building. The site plan at top shows it grabbing about 900 sq.-ft along Graustark St., leaving the rest of the 4,400-sq.-ft. building reserved for the plant-based anchor tenant.
This is Sweetgreen’s first step into Texas, according to Eater’s Alaena Hostetter (or second, if you count the other not-yet-open location it has planned for Rice Village) and it wants to make Doc’s building look like this before setting foot in it:
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On Deck Along Westheimer
This just in from Eater: One of those alliterative spicy chicken spots is now open between Smashburger and Nails By Lily in the standalone retail building across Town Center Blvd. from Sugar Land’s city hall; its name: Porto’s Peri Peri. Note: That’s not to be confused with The Peri Peri Factory — which opened on Westheimer near Hillcroft in April — nor Chick’n Cone, a NYC import that debuted its chicken with peri-peri sauce in the Woodlands in August,” according to Eater’s Alaena Hostetter; nor the Peli Peli Kitchen that opened around the same time inside the new 365 by Whole Foods Market off 610 as spin-off of the more formal Peli Peli sit-down restaurant at The Galleria. (The spelling of their names notwithstanding, both Peli Peli locations still refer to their chicken as peri peri.)
The common ingredient in all authentic peri peri dishes: bird’s eye chili, reports Eater’s Amy McCarthy. According to her, the Portuguese recipe was first brought to the U.S. by Nando’s Peri Peri, a South African chain that started outside Johannesburg in 1987 and now has more than a thousand locations across the globe — but none in Houston. Not to worry though, our local operators plan to continue filling in the gap. Porto’s Peri Peri’s owner told Hostetter in November that he’d follow-up the Sugar Land location with more spots inside and outside the 610 Loop. And Peli Peli’s owner told McCarthy last summer that he planned to start franchising after the new year.
Photos: Nisha B. (Porto’s Peri Peri); Nails By Lily (Nails By Lily)
Porto’s Peri Peri
The new restaurant moving into the northeast corner building on 11th St. is pitching itself as a spiritual successor to the long-running business that closed there 3 months ago, Dacapo’s Pastry Cafe, with some new signage that touts the planned menu’s closeness to the old one. Chocolate fudge cake, for one, will be made available when the new restaurant called Carmalita’s Cuisine opens next year, along with other leftovers from the shuttered pastry shop’s recipe book such as banana split cake and Italian cream cake. In terms of new offerings: The butter pecan cake slice pictured on the sign now up along Shepherd is Carmalita’s own concoction, as will be the handful of gluten-free offerings hitting the spot next year.
The building at 1141 E. 11th St., part of the Norhill Historic District, is currently split between the not-yet-reopened storefront and and some upstairs office space home to — among others — Elijah Rising, the Christian nonprofit that lobbied both Houston and Harris County officials to block that planned sex-doll brothel from opening on Richmond near Chimney Rock a few months ago.
Photos: Dacapo’s Pastry Cafe (building); Swamplox inbox (sign)
North Norhill Staple Foods
From the tunnels beneath the building formerly known as Two Shell Plaza, a Swamplot reader reports that the McDonald’s has closed. By management’s tally, it had been open down there for 30 years. The photo at top shows the notice that’s been up on the restaurant’s spot since last week.
Photos: Hines (811 Louisiana); Swamplot inbox (flyer)
WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN THE MONTROSE SHAKE SHACK OPENS THIS THURSDAY
Aside from the standard beefy fare, here’s what you can expect to encounter at the chain’s new Burger-King-replacement location on Westheimer west of Montrose Blvd. when it opens this Thursday: tabletops made from “reclaimed bowling alley lanes,” a mural from local artist Michael Rodriguez (the same guy behind new female astronaut artwork next to Shake Shack’s Rice Village location and the colorful first floor of the former Battelstein’s building downtown), and a free Shake-Shack-themed holiday ornament for the first 100 customers (doors open at 11 a.m.). There are also a few Montrose-specific menu items planned at the 1002 Westheimer restaurant including custards acquired from nearby UB Preserv and less-nearby Fluff Bake Bar, as well as a carrot cake offering served with coffee grounds from the location’s next-door neighbor Blacksmith. [Previously on Swamplot] Photo of construction on Montrose Shake Shack: Swamplox inbox
A Swamplot reader writes in to report that the JCI Grill across I-45 from the Home Depot near Gulfgate Mall is now closed. No need to get too close in order to tell; the electronic sign fronting the feeder road gets the message across to highway drivers as shown above. Behind it, you can see the new ramp TxDOT’s been working on to connect 610 eastbound to I-45 northbound — as well as the shadow it’s cast on the restaurant’s parking lot.
A flyer posted on the building says the construction was in part what inspired the closure:
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The Dog Days Are Over
A Swamplot reader sends these 2 photos showing what longtime Avondale brunch spot Baba Yega Cafe looks like after a Friday night fire did a number on the building. Damage to the roof has mostly been covered up now by a blue tarp. At ground level, new orange fencing signals the business’s current status: closed until sometime next year, say the owners.
Next-door, scattered debris and furniture are at rest in the parking lot behind the former Montrose Mining Company. Both the Mining Company and its lot are owned by one of the same partners behind Baba Yega, Fred Sharifi, and have remained empty for the past few months while the shuttered gay bar gets reshaped into Houston’s second Postino Wine Bar.
Photos: Swamplox inbox
You may remember the Jack in the Box at 2001 N. Shepherd that was left high and dry in September after shutting down. It’s got a new owner: an entity connected to New York brokerage firm Edry Real Estate. The sale closed last month and includes just over half an acre at the northwest corner of Shepherd Dr. and W. 20th St.
Photo: Swamplox inbox
A Swamplot reader sends the photo at top showing new signage up on the eaves of the former Shadow Oaks Drive-In convenience store at Long Point Rd. and Conrad Sauer Dr. in Spring Branch West. And a little bit of zoom reveals what’s now being advertised: a new business called Lazy Oaks Beer Garden. That same moniker has shown up on a number of permits filed on the 10158 Long Point Rd. address over the last 2 months, as well as an application for a TABC license.
Built in 1958, the convenience store remained in the family for nearly 60 years until the death of its second-gen owner, whose estate sold the property last September.
Photo: Swamplox inbox
Spring Branch West