Heads up, California-ization vigilantes: A diligent transaction sifter over at HAIF noted last night that In-N-Out Burgers recently bought 8373 Westheimer Rd. (currently home to a branch of public employment center Workforce Solutions in the parking lot of the nearby Walmart Supercenter on Dunvale Rd.). The 1997 standalone building is right around the corner from the AMC Studio 30, and sits in something of a Whataburger gap — not one of the 5 nearest Whataburger locations is closer than 1.7 miles by car. The space had been put on the market a few times in the last few years with no takers; the sale to In-N-Out went through in late May, per county records.
Noises have been made before about In-N-Out possibly moving to (or near) Houston, but CBRE VP Jazz Hamilton told the Chronicle’s Katherine Feser only this past February that he expected the chain’s first location to open by the end of the year — adding that Houston will “see [more locations] come in quietly . . . All of a sudden, they’ll start building all at once.”
Photo of 8737 Westheimer Rd.: LoopNet
Out and In on Westheimer
A reader sends a few fresh shots showing the state of the new apartment complex going up on Dunvale, flanked by the sprawl of the Walmart and AMC 30 parking lots to the north and south. After a few-year-stint as a Garden Ridge, the former Sam’s Club (and its short-lived Business Center experiment) got knocked out of the way last fall to make room for a 387-unit complex that developer Embrey appears to be calling Everly (though the entity that bought the land last May before the demolition was called The Domain on Dunvale). Here’s a rendered taste of what the buildings may look like, once the structures grow out of that awkward Tyvek phase:
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Between 2 Parking Lots
If tracking the comings and goings of Bennigan’s in Houston has become a little confusing , that’s understandable. The Irish-stewish bankruptish restaurant chain suddenly shuttered all of its U.S. locations — including 20 in Houston — back in 2008; 3 years later, the chain’s new owners announced the impending arrival of as many as 10 new restaurants in Houston alone. The first of these new-concept franchises appeared under the tower sign of a strip-center endcap at Westheimer and Dunvale (above) in 2012. A second location opened just a couple of weeks ago in a former Aldo’s spot on the feeder road across I-45 from The Woodlands. And yesterday the company announced it had “nearly 100 restaurants under contract for development over the next several years worldwide,” including a new grand opening in Houston to be announced soon. Bennigan’s is also planning a comeback for its sister Steak & Ale chain, which had packed out of Houston with the Bennigan’s retreat in 2008. President and CEO Paul Mangiamele is planning a “big announcement” about Steak & Ale’s future on Friday.
But in the meantime, the comeback Bennigan’s at 8401 Westheimer has shut down, the always-checking-it-3-times staffers behind the b4-u-eat restaurant newsletter now report. A new location of smaller scale chain 59 Diner has already signed up to replace it.
Photo of Bennigan’s at Westheimer and Dunvale: Laina C.
Bennigan’s Begin Again
Walmart shut down its Sam’s Club Business Center pilot program late last week — and closed the program’s only store — the Sam’s Club at Dunvale and Westheimer. The HBJ‘s Casey Wooten surveys the wreckage:
[Walmart spokesperson Susan] Koehler attributes the poor performance of the Dunvale Sam’s Club to its location. In April 2008 when the concept was unveiled, however, the company touted its proximity to major commercial centers on Houston’s west side as a reason it was selected to be the test store for the business center concept. . . .
Lance Gilliam, managing director at Moody Rambin Interests, who has worked with real estate clients in that area, says the Dunvale/Westheimer intersection is one of the busiest areas of the city, boasting heavy traffic and a dense daytime population, largely thanks to the Walmart, Sam’s Club and AMC Theatres that were built around the same time.
“It used to be considered a no man’s land, but once they located there, there were a lot of developments,” says Gilliam.
Now, development in the area may make it difficult for Wal-Mart to find a use for the building, says Gilliam.