Signs of Retail Life at the Corner of Kirby and Richmond

A reader sends in a pic of the action at the renovated but long-suffering strip center at the southwest corner of Kirby and Richmond, which looked to be getting awfully lonely again after the departure of its lone tenant, Hue Vietnamese restaurant, in March.

But Hue is back as Kata Robata Sushi and Grill, and that white banner on the opposite leg indicates that the Dessert Gallery has moved in. Off camera, to the right, signs announce that the endcap is slated for a Texas Community Bank, but our reader reports seeing no sign of any money inside.

Photo: Swamplot inbox

21 Comment

  • Isn’t there a Desert Gallery in the shopping center with the Cafe Express on Kirby in the back on the side street (Lake Street)?

    I guess this means the other one is going away.

    At least it’s good news for the shopping center.

  • NO NO NO!!
    My Bullsh*t Meter is going through the roof.

    i bet the bank is ACTUALLY THE LENDER and is just putting their sign there to help things look like they are moving along for the landlord. I am willing to bet anyone 5-1 that we see NO BANK there between now and the end of the year. hey, somebody pull the note -i can be wrong but I doubt it. banks like single tenant because a strip center is TOO EASY TO ROB!

    Look at the closed Bennigans not 1,500 feet away down the street. it says “Future Home of Blah Blah Bank” yet it also says “For Information call: “3 guys from our bank RE department” yeah right!! future home of nothing. it is bank REO parading as a future branch till they can figure out what the heck to do with it.

    the real story here is that a very important Houston retail corner has been no more than 20% occupied for AN ENTIRE YEAR!!!!

    This may have something to do with asking prices, other issues specific to the corner but i doubt it. they have 2 tenants. one they poached from another center. and one that was so incentivized by existing buildout that it was like a $50,000 coupon to start a restaurant!

    it doesnt take much to drive down richmond/kirby/shepherd/westheimer and see centers built new and sitting empty or to see a growing list of vacancies. I count 20 on Shepherd alone between 59 and the curve.

    why this hasn’t hit the Chronicle is beyond me.

  • I go by this shopping center all of the time. I beleive the bank has been “coming soon” since before Hue even opened.

  • Just bring back The Copa. That center died when it did.

  • Dessert Gallery’s building, the motor bank next door and the funeral home next to the bank were supposed to be razed for a boutique hotel development. Probably is not going to happen now.

  • Thanks JT, forgot about the boutique hotel potentially coming.

    JPSivco, the day the Chronicle starts to actually report something is the day they may actually have subscribers versus throwing their paper on people’s lawns and claiming them in their distribution. If you want the Chronicle for free, just cancel you subscription. You’ll keep getting for about two years.

  • and the Dessert Gallery owner is an old friend of the developer of this strip center. So no surprises that she’d move over here. Better parking anyway.

  • kjb! forgot that! thanks!!!

    i do miss the Donut Wheel that was here. it had a picture of an actual police officer on the bulletin board.

  • What’s with the hating. The story here is that a strip center (with very cool LED lighting) has gone from zero tenants to three tenants. Either state your proof on the bank or profess your ignorance – don’t care about your “meter” – PROOF!

    Also, don’t lump Shepherd in with Kirby. Kirby redevelopment CONTINUES to boom. Shepherd is hamstrung by awful traffic and small mom/pop old strip centers.

    Upper Kirby continues to flourish (wait ’til’10-’11). Construction on Kirby certainly affects leasing, etc. in the SHORT TERM, but road work will finish in Nov., just as the US starts emerging from recession (can’t wait 6 mo.s?)

    Maybe the Chronicle simply doesn’t have an axe to grind or a sky-is-falling mentality. Pretty uninformed attack by the poster, from a macro view…but some hope the sky will fall, I guess. Just don’t know why people pull for failure.
    The old center was horrific by comparison.
    You really want to bet on the new one being underoccupied in a couple years?
    AT RICHMOND AND KIRBY!!!! I’ll take that bet. Kudos for a very nice redevelopment of an eyesore in my ‘hood.

  • I have an unconfirmed rumor from some friends in the restaurant biz that the robata bar is being run by the same folks as the now-defunct Hue restaurant. So really, they are capitalizing on their own sunk costs from the last build out, not getting a $50k coupon.

  • Sometimes projects look great on paper but don’t turn out as planned. Be glad there are people willing to take risks. They deserve our support, not our criticism.

  • Must be the curse of Jamaica Jamaica. Or the blessing from the benevolent ghost of Jamaica Jamaica. I can’t tell based on the comments if this center is on the up-swing or on its way to mediocre-ville, I just wanted to say Jamaica Jamaica.

  • Lil Deb – of course it is – so what?

    Bill Burge – you nailed it.

  • Jessica,

    jamaica me laugh.

  • 1. I am the biggest Houston booster you will meet.
    2. I support people taking risks.
    3. the new restaurant in there is really good. (heard the rumor too about the relaunch)
    4. i apologize: my post was too abrasive.
    5 point taken on Shepherd quality vs Kirby quality
    6 we should all be realistic before drinking the “Houston is completely different” and “everything is fine” kool aid. nothing is fine, Houston is not immune.
    7 this forum will be alot more interesting 6 months from now when we have a ton more of this stuff to discuss. the giant condo building on Kirby that is going straight to empty….
    7.2 or the difficulty that West Ave on Kirby will have in filling their retail slots….

    Kirby is not booming. Dont confuse effort with results.

  • Interesting to see if Sushi King and Miyako’s business are at all effected with Kata Robata’s opening. Then again Little Pappasito’s and Ninfa’s across from one another…that’s Houston for ya! I love the surplus of places to dine :)

  • Oh, I forget to add at the beginning of the comments:

    Another Sushi Place?!?!

    I don’t think Miyako will be affected. It’s been there a while and a lot of there customers are regulars.

    My only experience at Sushi King wasn’t that great. The food was good, but service one. I won’t say the restaurant is horrible though since it was only one visit.

  • “Another Sushi Place?!?!”

    Wasn’t that one of the new code revisions the city passed recently? “Percentage of new restaurants inside the 610 Loop Freeway that specialize in sushi shall be no less than 68%.”

  • First – there were no decent sushi places in Houston. Finally there is one – Kata Robata – i ate there twice on Saturday I was so excited to FINALLY have a decent sushi restaurant with real japanese sushi chefs and a japanese owner…hello…we are so lucky to have them there. and then we went to desert gallery and there was a line out the door. i have no worries about this center, only about the parking eventually.

  • renee,
    You sound like a paid advertiser for this new place.

    I beg to differ about good sushi places in Houston. We have lots of them. The true barometer for “GOOD” places to me is where do the actual Japanese population eat. I use the same measure for any culture specific food. On top of that, all sushi isn’t the same. It depends where in Japan is the chef/owners pulling their recipes. Yes, there are some standard favorites, but there are other offerings that are geographic specific.

    To me, the big travesty in cultural food offerings locally is in the cajun/creole arena, but that’s just because I grew up in small town south Louisiana. Cajun food in general is not supposed to be heavily seasoned or spicy (at all), but good luck in finding real cajun here or in any restaurant. On top of that, seafood is rarely part of common cajun cooking except for occasional fishing. The big draw on seafood is creole and New Orleans base. Also, New Orleans has nothing to do with cajun. Never get cajun food in New Orleans. It won’t be real!

  • JPS – mea culpa noted, and appreciated.

    Yes, as over 90% of economists recently surveyed opined, this recession will be essentially over around 1Q ’10. They’re more credible than most Swamplot posters, even though they’ve been wrong, too.

    Yes, I’m excited to see credit finally starting to loosen-first, residential, then commercial shortly thereafter.

    Yes, I’m looking forward to ending the P-in-the A that is upper Kirby Dr. reconstruction late this year, thereby creating a far more appealing streetscape
    (buried lines/walkability). Signing a lease or opening a business is generally unwise when drivers deliberately avoid the entire area around your place of business! Hence (anticipated) slowed leasing…

    Did I mention that Kirby N. of 59 offers the best demographic mix in the city?
    Adjacent to the wealthiest ‘hood in town,
    suffused with expensive apartments, Upper Kirby snags both the huge net-wealth crew and the upwardly mobile “aspirants” who constitute the “conspicuous consumers” in our society. No need to trust me – check w/Gables, et al, or simply drive (choking on const. dust) north on Kirby. $$$$$$$(!)

    Yes, please cite your sources, on units sold/leased at 2727 Kirby. Your negative comment implies you have this info; I don’t and would like it. You said, “(It)is going straight to empty”. Would you like to bet?

    This from “the biggest Houston booster you will meet”. Would you like to bet?

    There are obviously unknowns out there, but the fact remains, most of us “close-in” types were a little smart and a lot lucky that we chose to live and work in one of the most-insulated areas within one of the most insulated cities in the one of the most insulated states in the entire country from a long, bad world-wide recession. Upper Kirby is a shining gem compared with 95%+ of the country and has an inescapably bright future – yes, maybe in 6 mo.s, but irrefutably over the coming years, and through our lifetimes.
    Location, baby…even trumps negative rumors.