12/12/18 2:45pm

Landing with a thud on the city planning commission’s dais this week: the rendering above depicting what Arizona-based beer and pizza chain Bottled Blonde wants to do to the former Weiner’s Dry Goods Store No. 12 at 4901 Washington Ave. Most of the building’s original architectural details — for instance, the signage and storefront entrance shown above at Durham Dr. —  are long-gone according to Tim Cisneros of Cisneros Design Studio, the firm responsible for the planned makeover.

And so the renovations Bottled Blonde has planned will look more forward than backward in order to reshape the structure from what it is now, a shuttered Cash America Pawn branch:

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4901 Washington
12/07/18 11:30am

ARE THE NEW FITZGERALD’S OWNERS PLANNING TO BRING DOWN THE HOUSE? “They came and tested for asbestos,” Fitzgerald’s longtime owner Sara Fitzgerald tells the Chronicle’s Marcy de Luna, “so I think they’re looking to tear it down. It was their original intention to build a high-rise there.” Fitzgerald sold Fitzgerald’s along with 3 home lots behind it on E. 6½ St. in July to the same Chicago-based company, Easy Park, that’s been planning that automated parking garage a few blocks west down White Oak Dr. in place of the existing, analog garage next to Tacos A Go Go (which it also owns, along with some other retail nearby). She’s now renting the building at 2706 White Oak from her new landlord and running the 41-year-old business remotely from Seguin, Texas, outside San Antonio, de Luna reports. Following a spree of farewell shows scheduled throughout the month, the club will close with a New Year’s Eve party featuring ’70s and ’80s cover band SKYROCKET! [Houston Chronicle; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Caramels D.

12/06/18 4:00pm

THE MARQUIS II IS GETTING ITS SECOND ENCORE Well, that was fast. After shutting down on Sunday without any timeline for a return, the Marquis II reopened at 2 p.m. on Tuesday, according to a note posted on Facbeook by longtime bar employee Al Jara. According to the Chronicle’s Marcy de Luna, Jara is now the owner of the place, having purchased it from his boss during the 2-day timeout. The last time a Marquis employee pulled a stunt like this, it was a pair of devoted cocktail waitresses who bought the place after the owner, their boss at the time, died in the late ’60s. (Adding “II” to the name was their idea.) In this case the former owner is still alive, just sick of dealing with the sustained construction activity outside the bar on Bissonnet St., which Jara says has cost the business $1.2 to $1.5 million since it began in 2014. “They’ve broken up our parking lot and we are not getting business because people can’t access us,” he tells de Luna. [Houston Chronicle; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Marquis II

12/03/18 12:15pm

A flyer posted on the Marquis II at 2631 Bissonnet yesterday announces that the place is now closed indefinitely, leaving West University almost entirely devoid of bars (except for the one inside the Whole Foods on Bellaire Blvd.). The Marquis II’s predecessor, the Marquis, opened in the then-fledgling River Oaks Shopping Center in 1945. After the bar’s original owner died in the late 1960s, a pair of cocktail waitresses bought it and decamped to Bissonnet and Buffalo Spdwy., where the suffix became part of the venue’s name.

Following a stint at Bissonnet and Weslayan, the bar wound up in its current spot near Kirby in 1985. Houston architect Lars Bang had originally designed the building to house a branch of California donut chain The Big Donut, which it did until the 1970s when a gentleman’s lounge dubbed The Bunny Club blacked out the windows and took over. It left after a fire in the early ’80s, but not entirely: During the Marquis II’s last major remodel in 2011, workers uncovered a painting of a women wearing a low-cut outfit with a bushy tail that had been hiding behind one of the building’s walls, an unmistakable relic of the shuttered strip club. “Although badly charred,” according to the bar’s website, “the painting underwent a little restoration and still hangs proudly on our wall.

Photos: Marquis II

Last Last Call
10/22/18 2:45pm

A SATURDAY NIGHT SWAN SONG AT SPRUCE GOOSE: SOCIAL FLYERS CLUB This past weekend was the last one ever for the concert venue known as Spruce Goose: Social Flyers Club on the second floor of 809 Congress, across from Market Square Park and directly above Henke and Pillot. The 100- to 300-person club only opened up earlier this year, but managed to stay booked through the summer and all the way up until its finale on Saturday, which featured — among others — self-described “Punkish?” band Branagan, shown sending things off in the photo above. [Spruce Goose: Social Flyers Club] Photo: Branagan

09/27/18 11:30am

AMERICA GARDENS DECLARES VICTORY FOLLOWING 2-MONTH CROWDFUNDING CAMPAIGN More than $230,000 have now been raised by online investors who pledged allegiance to the planned bar with their wallets over the summer. Although there had been some work at the property before the campaign kicked off in July, the developer Syn Hospitality claims it’s relying on the additional funds in order to really get down to business at the site on the corner of Caroline and McGowen in what it’s calling “East Midtown.” It plans to keep accepting money until November 15. [Previously on Swamplot] Rendering: Syn Hospitality

09/25/18 4:30pm

Note: This story has been updated.

Parts left over from the metal barn that Black Page Brewing leased out beside White Oak Bayou out a few years back are now lying in a heap next to a wooden skeleton that’s taken the demolished structure’s place. The deconstruction began last month according to neighbors who called 311 on August 31 to report that it was happening, potentially, they said, without the required permits. An inspector showed up the next day to check things out, one of several field trips the city would make to the planned brewpub’s digs at the end of Glen Park St. over the next few weeks in response to multiple follow-up calls from nearby residents.

By the time a demo permit did show up last Friday, the site had already been tagged twice by city officials: first for the premature teardown, and once again — as shown below — for additional unpermitted work:

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Near Northside
09/24/18 2:15pm

WHO’S DRINKING IN D&W LOUNGE AT 7 AM? Until recently, a lot of “third shift workers on their way home” from the Maxwell House coffee plant 3 blocks up Milby St., reports John Nova Lomax in his recent Vice ode to the bar. (There’s no getting away with it under current regs, but — he adds — D&W used to be a 24-7 establishment.) “It was also a hit with weary cops and assistant district attorneys,” says Lomax. The coffee plant closed down over the summer, but the bar’s hours remain the same. [Vice; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Nathan F.

08/06/18 5:00pm

And in even more beer-related news, another local warehouse is now turning to drinks as its primary occupation. This 7,725-sq.-ft. one — pictured above from Bevis St. between W. 16th and 17th — is about to become New Magnolia Brewing. Its name is a cheers to the original Magnolia Brewing Company — formally the Houston Ice and Brewing Company — that did its concocting along Buffalo Bayou at the corner of Franklin and Milam streets until Prohibition forced it to make ice its flagship product. Following its shutdown, the Magnolia Ballroom took the place over roughly 40 years ago.

The New Magnolia’s 43,560-sq.-ft. digs at 1616 Bevis include this front yard, more than twice the size of the building to its north:

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The Brew and the Old
08/06/18 11:00am

Here’s the next target in Houston’s continuing warehouse-to-brewery turnover trend: 1504 Chapman St. A group of local brewers got their hands on the 6,283-sq.-ft. building — pictured above from the south — in April and a budding Facebook page now shows its address as the location of a venue they’re calling Local Group Brewing.

It’s within the same general parish as St. Arnold’s recently-opened beer cathedral and existing brewery. They’re both less than half a mile away on the other side of the former Union Pacific brownfield pictured below, now giving rise to the complex of mixed-use buildings dubbed Hardy Yards:

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Aerial Redevelopment Reconaissance
08/03/18 12:45pm

A new brewery is now in the works for the industrial building that sits across the Downtown 59 on-ramp from the Houston Center for Sobriety. Just like the adjacent drunk tank which opened in 2013, the new business at 100 N. Jackson will be housed in a repurposed warehouse. Its lawn includes several signs pointing drivers to the neighboring sobering center — like the one shown above fronting the exit ramp off the Eastex, on the west side of the soon-to-be beer venue dubbed Industry Brewery. (Also in the frame: signage for the building’s most recent tenant the American Engine & Grinding Company.)

At that corner, a left on Ruiz St. followed by another quick one on Chenevert gets you outside the recovery facility:

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Downtown Wet and Dry Spots
08/01/18 1:00pm

After and before views show off the dramatic change of face that’s transformed 311 Travis St. as part of the prep-work for its new Tiki-themed bar occupant Kanaloa. The monochrome makeover began on the lower façade a few weeks ago before proceeding upstairs where it wrapped up last week. “We want this to be a hidden oasis in downtown,” the venue’s owner told Eater in March, hinting at plans to renovate the 126-year-old Alltmont Building. Its canopies, window arches, and pediment are pretty well-hidden now — though the building does seem to stand out a bit as a whole amid the row of adjacent lighter brick structures fronting Market Square Park.

When Kanaloa opens, it will pick up where Market Square Bar & Grill — pictured below — left off last year:

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Tiki Torched
07/31/18 10:00am

The owner of 306 Main St. is now marketing the building for lease, which means Moving Sidewalk‘s days are numbered inside. The bar took over from ramen restaurant Goro & Gun, which took over from Mediterranean spot Molto, which took over from Grum Bar & Grill, which took over from Hic-Cups Bar & Grill.

The biggest cosmetic change to the building over that roughly-10-year time span: the reddening of the church-like, windowed tympanum up above the front doors. Prior to Goro & Gun’s arrival, it’d been brown along with the entryway below it — both of which look out on the southbound Preston St. platform of METRO’s Red Line.

Photos: LoopNet

Rail Drinks
07/06/18 10:00am

Despite the bare-bones look, construction on Saint Arnold’s drinking and entertainment complex across Semmes St. from its existing brewery is nearly complete. Renderings put out earlier by the brewery called for the steel beams supporting the roof over its back patio to extend beyond the covering, leaving the southernmost portion of the seating area unshaded. New landscaping now adds to the decor below it all.

But the big thing still missing is the lettering that’s planned to spell out the brewery’s name along the extended cupola, as shown at the top of the rendering below:

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Fifth Ward
06/29/18 3:45pm

AN UNDERCOVER BARFLY’S REPORT FROM DOWN THE STREET From the report of former Texas peace office and expert bar witness Darren K. Coleman who recently performed an assessment of Cottage Grove bar Down the Street at 5746 Larkin St.: “On April 20, 2018, Mr. Coleman made an anonymous visit to the Bar to make personal observations. During his visit, Mr. Coleman observed numerous cars parked along the street, some being cars belonging to Bar patrons and some belonging to residents and/or residents’ guests. He observed that traffic was not impeded by cars parked along the street; however, two cars could not pass at the same time. He assessed that this was not uncommon for any neighborhood where cars are parked along the street. Mr. Coleman did not observe litter in the area. Additionally, he observed the patrons to be well-behaved and polite. No one was intoxicated or displayed belligerent, loud, aggressive, or lewd behavior. The indoor music was at a moderate volume and was not loud enough to interfere with normal conversation.” Coleman’s report was included in testimony presented to a state judge after a group of neighbors protested the bar’s request to renew its TABC license. Based in part on Coleman’s outside opinion, the judge found Wednesday that the bar wasn’t violating any TABC rules and recommended the TABC approve its requested renewal. [Texas Office of Administrative Hearings] Photo: Down the Street