A half-decade after the demolition of its on-site predecessors, the retail building replacing the former Ruggles Grill at 903 Westheimer Rd. just east of Montrose Blvd. is almost complete. Going inside the new 6,536-sq.-ft. structure across from Uchi: a couple of Dallas imports.
On the right, on the side closer to the Smoothie King drive-thru, will go the first out-of-Dallas location of the East Hampton Sandwich Company chain. On the left, next to the side parking lot and the Woman’s Home’s Cottage Shop, will be the second Houston location of Velvet Taco. Sandwiched between them is a 1,120-sq.-ft. space that appears to be still available, according to leasing documents — perhaps for a third wheat-wrapped-lunch spot of north Texas origin.
A 57-spot parking lot wraps around and in back of the building:
Here’s your chance to see in first person what the city’s come up with for that under-discussionredo of Westheimer Rd. in Montrose. The video above flies viewers slowly through a flatly rendered Westheimer corridor east of Shepherd Dr. (complete with digital versions of all your favorite ex-clothing shops, storied condo buildings, and paired Mattress Firms) with the new street plan in place. Reality check with the existing state of the roadways happens at a handful of the corridor’s intersections.
The biggest change: A drop down to 2 lanes of car traffic in most places (versus the 4 narrow lanes currently in place), beginning around Huldy St. and moving east. The road would briefly widen back out to 4 lanes around the crossing of Montrose Blvd., then back down to 2 until the name swap to Elgin St. at Bagby St. All that slimming down leaves room for wider sidewalks; the plan also includes some set-aside zones for bus drop-off, some left turn lanes, and a few stretches of parallel parking areas, highlighted in pink.
The equipment for some sort of procedure was noted at the corner of Dunlavy St. and Westheimer Rd. this morning by a reader driving by. Determinedly artsy Australian hair-and-skincare shop Aēsop looks to be setting up in the retail shell left empty by the sudden 2015 evaporation of clothing boutique Duo, located across the street from Café Brasil and Hollywood Food & Cigar to the west and the north respectively.
And the space next door currently hosting American Apparel may be cleared out for a new tenant around the end of April, as well: Following a sale of the twice-bankrupt clothing company’s brand and intellectual property to a Canadian company, all of American Apparel’s US stores may end up closing by then, and part of the company’s production is probably getting outsourced.
The pointy building rendered above (and shown here as well in an intermediate building stage last year, as construction began at 520 Westheimer Rd.) has just been confirmed this week as the planned site of Paul Qui’s rumored Houston restaurant, to be called Aqui. The depiction of the restaurant by lower-case Austin design firm a parallel architecture (the same firm that designed Qui’s then-eponymous spot in Austin) was spotted by a reader at the site early last March, shortly before Qui picked up a couple of drug and assault misdemeanor charges which tacked a question mark onto the timeline of future plans and openings.
Following the chef’s rehab stint, Qui Restaurant in Austin has since closed and reopened as Kuneho; the self-described former-drug-dealer-turned-James-Bearded-Top-Chef-champ hinted at his connection to the building at 520 Westheimer on social media a few days ago. The spot is wedged between Indika and The Cat Doctor.
Right across Kuester St. from where that paving prep looks to be going on this month, some building permits have been issued recently for a new honky tonk and bar listed as Goodnight Charlie’s. A couple of readers noted that the long-empty triangle of partially grazeable land behind Buffalo Exchange also sports the TABC notice signage above, and the space looks to be owned by the same legal entity that owns the jilted corner lot. The fenced-in land sits at the trailing end of Kuester, which blends into Missouri St. and the back edge of the parking lot of Mexican seafood-themed bar La Grange (which took over the 2-story building formerly occupied by gay bar EJ’s on Ralph St., behind the Westheimer-facing Central Houston Animal Hospital).
Here’s a wider shot of the permitted honky tonk site; that’s the back of the Community Endowment Foundation’s Swelha House visible just to the right of all those early-2010’s townhomes:
This morning a reader spotted some cleaning out going on at the Westheimer Rd. storefront of BJ’s Oldies Antiques. The shop isn’t closing down, a rep tells Swamplot — just moving next door for a month or so (into the storefront spot formerly occupied by now-on-Taft-St. Cool Stuff) while some building repairs get finished up. The shop’s current location — immediately east of Empire Cafe — is a metal rooster’s throw from where owner Becky Pieniadz ran the business in the 1990s out of a section of the flea market at 1733 Westheimer (directly across the street from Empire). The shop moved down the street for a few years to the building down the road at 1435 Westheimer (currently occupied by bedding store Biscuit) before downsizing back to the 1700 block in 2013.
NIRVANA-NODDING LOVE BUZZ NOW PUSHING FREE-ISH PIZZA EVERY NIGHT ON WESTHEIMER STREET CORNER The former salon and former bed & breakfast respectively sitting across Westheimer Rd. from Avant Garden and recently relocated Biskit Junkie have just finished converting into Love Buzz, a 90s-nostalgia-themed bar put together by some of the folks involved with exotic meat hotdog joint Moon Tower Inn. The shop opened to the public over the weekend with a limited-for-now menu built around pizza from Eatsie Boy-linked not-yet-chain Nice Slice (which, according to Craig Hlavaty of the Houston Chronicle, is already working on its second distribution point at bar-on-a-stick Raven Tower). Love Buzz’s social media accounts claim it will be giving out a free slice of cheese pizza with every mixed drink or beer sold after 9 pm, any night the bar is open. [Previously on Swamplot] Image of 408 Westheimer interior: Love Buzz
Windows and wood are now covering much of the front of Vinoteca Poscól’s previous strip center location at 1609 Westheimer Rd. The spot is being prepped to open as Jimmy Chew Asian Kitchen, which touts a laundry list of east- and southeast-Asian countries as contributors to its particular fusion mix. About Online reports that the business is connected to Irwin Palchick of F Bar Nightclub, and will cater to the post-last-call crowd as well as to lemonade enthusiasts.
The wooden addition, which appears to be establishing the restaurant’s patio territory, engulfs the space previously fenced off as such by Poscól, along with some former sidewalk acreage. Here’s what the space used to look like, before the wine bar’s midsummer departure:
The previously white house at the northwest corner of Westheimer Rd. and Stanford St. now has an edgy new look, along with some some city permits issued to an entity called Beijing Assassin Tattoos in April. The permits mention a tattoo parlor and retail setup in the building, which was bought in 2014 by a legal entity of the Katz family (of never-closes deli fame 2 doors down to the west of Vinoteca Poscol).
A previous set of permits was issued to Beijing Assassin back in early 2015, after which the space opened for a few months as Gods and Monsters e-cigarette supply store. Then a coat of whitewash blotted out the building’s pretty-new-at-the-time murals, shown in part below:
A new sign is up already on the building next door to Katz’s Deli, at 608 Westheimer Rd. But Vinoteca Poscol won’t be moving from its current strip-center spot at 1609 Westheimer to this new, and lower, Westheimer location until sometime after the Fourth of July, owner Marco Wiles tells Houstonia‘s Katharine Shilcutt.
The exterior of the former home of Azamian Rugs and (before that) AIDS Foundation Houston’s Stone Soup has already seen quite a few changes in its new Italian Restaurant redo, especially to the front of the house. Gone is the old single-story addition that pushed up to the sidewalk. Next to be completed: interior renovations, and perhaps an extra letter for the sign.
While much of the rest of Houston is recovering from — or still dealing with — high water after last night’s torrential rains, the long-vacant house at 116 Westheimer Rd. is showing off the scars it incurred from a disaster of a different sort. A fire raged through the structure Friday night.
The 1904 building is adjacent to the Jus’ Mac macaroni and cheese outlet in the 106 Westheimer strip center at the corner of Bagby St. A Swamplot reader sent in these photos showing the home as it appeared this morning:
Neighbors and passers-by have been curious about the renovations taking place at the strip center at the corner of Lower Westheimer and Helena St., where the Hollywood Food & Cigars #3 convenience store at 202 Westheimer Rd. — and its neighbor Tejas Boots — kicked off a couple years ago. The building, once home to Baby Giant #2, has recently been painted a bright white; its sign has been denuded, and sidewalk reconstruction work is underway:
Lower Westheimer is, of course, one of those select “walkable” areas of Houston, but last weekend’s first corporate-sponsored Sunday Streets made it especially so — even in the absence of a traditional neighborhood festival. The Montrose road was blocked off to automobile traffic from Taft to Woodhead for 4 hours.
Video footage of the event from a DJI Inspire 1 piloted by Adam Brackman shows rare scenes of introduced free-range human bipedal and bi-pedal activity in not-so-native habitat — from a few new angles: