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 CompanyÂ chain. On the left, next to the side parking lot and the Womanâ€™s Homeâ€™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.Â The video above fliesÂ viewers slowly through a flatly rendered Westheimer corridor east of Shepherd Dr. (complete with digital versions of all your favorite ex-clothing shops,Â storied condo buildings, and paired Mattress Firms)Â with the new street plan in place. Reality checkÂ 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.Â and moving east. The road would briefly widen back out to 4 lanes around the crossing of Montrose Blvd., then back down to 2 untilÂ 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 zonesÂ for bus drop-off,Â some left turn lanes, and a few stretches of parallelÂ parking areas, highlighted in pink.
And theÂ space next door currently hostingÂ American Apparel mayÂ be cleared out forÂ a new tenant around the end of April,Â 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 storesÂ may end up closingÂ byÂ then, and partÂ of the company’s productionÂ 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.Â The depiction of the restaurant by lower-case Austin design firm a parallel architecture (the same firm that designed Qui’s then-eponymous spotÂ in Austin) wasÂ spotted by a reader at the site early last March, shortly before Qui picked up a couple ofÂ drug and assault misdemeanor chargesÂ which tackedÂ a question mark onto theÂ timeline of future plans and openings.
Following the chef’s rehab stint, Qui Restaurant in Austin has since closed and reopened as Kuneho;Â the self-describedÂ former-drug-dealer-turned-James-Bearded-Top-Chef-champ hinted at his connection to the building at 520 Westheimer on social mediaÂ a few days ago. The spot is wedged between Indika and The Cat Doctor.
Right across Kuester St. from whereÂ 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 entityÂ that owns the jiltedÂ corner lot. The fenced-in land sits at the trailing end of Kuester, which blends intoÂ Missouri St. and the back edge of the parking lot of Mexican seafood-themed barÂ La Grange (which took over the 2-story building formerly occupied by gay bar EJ’s on Ralph St.,Â behind the Westheimer-facingÂ Central Houston Animal Hospital).Â
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’sÂ townhomes:
This morning a readerÂ 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)Â while some building repairs get finished up.Â The shop’sÂ current location —Â immediately east ofÂ Empire Cafe — is a metal rooster’s throw from whereÂ owner Becky Pieniadz ranÂ 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 toÂ the building down the road at 1435 Westheimer (currently occupied by bedding store Biscuit) before downsizing backÂ 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 sittingÂ across Westheimer Rd. from Avant Garden and recently relocatedÂ Biskit JunkieÂ have just finished converting intoÂ Love Buzz, a 90s-nostalgia-themed bar put together byÂ 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-nowÂ menu built aroundÂ pizza from Eatsie Boy-linked not-yet-chain Nice Slice (which,Â according to Craig HlavatyÂ of theÂ Houston Chronicle,Â isÂ already working on itsÂ second distribution point at bar-on-a-stick Raven Tower). Love Buzz’s social media accountsÂ claim it will be giving out a free slice of cheese pizza with every mixedÂ drink or beer sold after 9 pm,Â any night the bar is open. [Previously on Swamplot] Image of 408 Westheimer interior: Love Buzz
Windows and wood are now covering much of theÂ front of Vinoteca PoscÃ³l’s previous strip center location at 1609 Westheimer Rd. The spot is being preppedÂ to open as Jimmy Chew Asian Kitchen, which touts a laundry list of east- and southeast-Asian countries as contributors toÂ its particular fusion mix. About Online reports that the business is connected toÂ Irwin PalchickÂ of F Bar Nightclub, and will cater to the post-last-call crowdÂ as well as toÂ lemonade enthusiasts.Â
The wooden addition, which appears to be establishing the restaurant’s patio territory, engulfs the space previously fenced off as such by PoscÃ³l, along with some former sidewalk acreage.Â Â Here’s what the space used to look like, before the wine bar’s midsummerÂ departure:
TheÂ previously whiteÂ 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 calledÂ Beijing Assassin Tattoos in April. The permits mentionÂ a tattoo parlor and retail setup in the building, which was bought in 2014Â by a legal entity of theÂ Katz family (of never-closes deli fameÂ 2Â doors downÂ to the westÂ of Vinoteca Poscol).
A previous set ofÂ permits was issued to Beijing Assassin back inÂ early 2015, after whichÂ the space opened for a few months as Gods and MonstersÂ e-cigaretteÂ supply store. Then a coat of whitewash blotted out theÂ building’s pretty-new-at-the-timeÂ murals, shown in part below:
A new sign is up already on the buildingÂ next door to Katz’s Deli, atÂ 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 itsÂ new Italian Restaurant redo, especially toÂ the front of the house. Gone is the oldÂ 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: