Just Couldn’t Say Goodbye: Otto’s, Back from the Edge of the Market

That plan by the owners of Otto’s Bar B Q and Hamburgers on Memorial Dr. to shut down the restaurant, sell the land, and retire on the proceeds didn’t end up going so well after all, the Houston Business Journal‘s Allison Wollam notices. The 58-year-old restaurant

was slated to be demolished to make way for the sale of the high-profile Memorial Drive land, but the restaurant has now fully reopened after the owners were unable to find a buyer for the property. The hamburger side of the two-sided restaurant has remained in business, but the portion selling barbecue closed for a time. A sign on the door says the barbecue side of the restaurant celebrated a grand reopening on April 15.

But word of the reopening seems to be spreading slowly. The once-bustling parking lot of the restaurant, for example, was only sparsely populated during lunchtime on a day earlier [last] week.

The owners, June and Marcus Sofka, were told they might be able to get as much as $150 a square foot for their property when they listed it with Cushman & Wakefield at the end of 2007. But a real estate broker tells Wollam the 1.3-acre Otto’s property at 5502 Memorial Dr. and the 17,000-sq.-ft. shopping center the couple owns next door might be worth a little less than half of that today.

Photo: Flickr users Bob & Lorraine Kelly

10 Comment

  • Sounds good to me. The bbq is not the best but I like the burgers.

  • The land was never worth $150 per square foot.

  • Gosh, I used to eat at Otto’s back in the late 70’s and if you weren’t at the BBQ restaurant by 11:30, you had to resign yourself to standing in line, sometimes out the door. And actually, back then, their BBQ was excellent, and so was the potato salad!

  • I noticed also that it was still open last week when I went to the shopping center across the street. When I pulled out onto Memorial I noticed it was still open. I was a little confused.

  • If the commercial market has collapsed by 50% off of Memorial, how come the home prices haven’t really dropped that much right behind Otto’s?

  • Their BBQ has gone way downhill (nearby Pizzitola’s is much much better). The burgers, on the other hand, are excellent. Fortunately, I can get my Otto’s burger fix downtown now so I wouldn’t exactly be sad to see that location replaced with something a little bit nicer. Don’t mess with Biba’s though!

  • The proverbial Kiss of Death!! A restaurant is a pretty good highest and best use for land in the loop. Look at the projects involving buying a restaurant and knocking it down to build. Little Woodrow’s = Empty lot no activity. The State Grille = Empty lot no activity. Nit Noi in Rice Village = Empty lot no activity. Am i missing any?? kb434?? Did the Stables on S. Main become anything?

  • JPSivco,

    Restaurants (and bars) are pretty good winners for commercial land right now. I’ve heard that restaurants in New York City have a 50/50 shot at making it. Not good odds. Houston restaurants must have like 70/30 or 80/20 odds of making it unless they really go off the wall and cater to a specific niche.

  • Long live the OSB!!!!!!!
    (Otto’s Super Burger)

    I agree with TheNiche. That land was never really worth $150 a square foot.

  • maybe they will do an exterior skin job on the building too?