10/22/18 5:30pm

Renovations to turn the former Parsley Studios building at 1504 Yale St. into Blue Line Bike Lab‘s new Heights location are now nearly finished, and the most dramatic change is the new coat of light blue paint the structure’s 15th-St. side, pictured above. During the 75 years it housed the family photo business and functioned as a portrait studio for mayors and celebrities like Roy Rogers and Loretta Lynn — according to The Leader — the building underwent its fair share of paint jobs; the last big one washed out a checkerboard pattern along its Yale-St. side, leaving the structure mostly brown.

Last September, a liquidation sale emptied the place of “a quarter of a century’s worth of photo equipment, furniture, frames and photos,reported the Chronicle‘s Jaimy Jones. By that time, most of the owners’ work focused on photo restoration, so brick-and-mortar amenities like formal seating — “and even a small dressing room with bright, round bulbs that frame a mirror atop an old-fashioned dressing table,” wrote Jones — were no longer necessary. The building sold to a group that’s linked to Blue Line, which has its nearest shop on the corner of White Oak Dr. and Columbia St. That existing location (which predates the shop’s other spot on Telephone Rd.) is now set to close, but not until a fleet of new bikes arrives the Yale St. building.

It’s shown empty in the photo below, although a newly-hung sign along Yale makes clear what will fill it:

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1504 Yale St.
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

10/16/18 4:00pm

A former employee of the chain says that September 30 was the staff’s last day at the restaurant in the Marq’E Entertainment Center, where its double-decker patio — pictured above — faces off from the Edwards Cinema movie theater (and its vertical water feature faces off from the shopping center’s plaza fountain).

All other Cafe Adobe locations have closed down as well; most recently, the one in terminal B of Bush Airport and the one across Hwy. 6 from Sugar Land‘s Market at Town Center shopping center — which featured this dramatic main entrance:

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Adobe a Goner
10/16/18 11:15am

CHASE BANK CLOSING IN THE TOWER THAT BEARS ITS NAME December 13 is the last business day at Chase’s Chase Tower branch. The bank — which a portion of the lobby shown beyond Joan Miró’s Personage and Birds sculpture in the photo above — is following in the footsteps of the upstairs Chase employees who left in 2006 when the corporation moved its offices out of the building and lost the naming rights to it, reports the Chronicle’s John C. Roper. The nearest branch: in the former Gulf Building at 712 Main St., on the block catty-corner southeast of the Chase Tower. [Houston Chronicle; previously on Swamplot] Photo: 42 Floors

10/08/18 12:15pm

Twelve standard Mattress Firm locations (red) are going out of business, as well as 4 Final Markdowns (orange) and one Clearance-branded location (yellow). That’s 17 closures altogether, 2 shy of the number Mattress Firm announced would shutter across the rest of Texas when it filed for bankruptcy last week.

They are . . . on Westheimer near Hillcroft Ave., on I-10 in the Village Plaza at Bunker Hill shopping center, in Westgate Marketplace retail center off I-10 along N. Fry Rd., next-door to the other Mattress Firm in the Westmont Shopping Center at Westheimer and Montrose Blvd., on the W. Loop S. feeder road between Westheimer and Richmond, across Tomball Pkwy. from Willowbrook Mall, on Hwy. 6 north of Bissonnet, across from Baybrook Mall in Webster, in the Riverstone Shopping Center on Hwy. 6 in Missouri City, on 59 in Richmond near the beginning of the Grand Pkwy., in Sugar Land’s Market at Town Center shopping center next to First Colony Mall, at Pearland Town Center, across from the Mason Village shopping center in Katy, further south down S. Mason Rd. near Highland Knolls Dr. in Katy, on I-45 south of Robinson Rd. in Spring, at The Woodlands Mall, and on I-45 north of W. Davis St. in Conroe.

The Big Sleep
10/08/18 10:15am

Soon it appears there’ll be only one Mattress Firm again in the Westmont Shopping Center at Montrose Blvd. and Westheimer: The one on the right at 1005 Westheimer is set to close while the one on the left at 1003 Westheimer is sticking around — for now, at least; more closures are on the way according to the plan Mattress Firm announced in its bankruptcy filing last week to, among other things, thin out areas it thinks are too crowded with its own stores by closing 700 of them after an initial group of more than 200 get axed “within the next few days.”

In a court filing, the chain said no liquidation sales are planned at any of its ill-fated stores. But signage outside the former Mattress-Proturned-Mattress-Firm Final Markdown this morning indicates otherwise:

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Final Days of a Final Markdown
10/02/18 1:30pm

As advertised by the banner fronting Montrose Blvd., the wine bar and its outdoor drinking area are now open for business. Getting things ready inside the venue took a little longer than it did to set up fencing. After the bottles went up in late August, the front door of the former homeless shelter stayed closed to patrons for a little over a month.

Audubon Place
09/26/18 10:30am

 

By its own count, Mattress Firm now has just over a dozen shops open inside the 610 Loop after closing its 202 Westheimer location next to the (also recently shuttered) Njoy Thai restaurant on Sunday. The full-strip store pictured above took over from Hollywood Food & Cigars #3 and its neighbor Tejas Boots under the name Mattress Pro 3 years ago before its parent retailer scrapped that pseudonym and rebranded all of its locations under the Mattress Firm moniker.

Over the last year, the chain’s shut down hundreds of storesreports USA Today‘s Nathan Bomey, who echoes other murmurs that the retailer’s South African parent company Steinhoff could soon file for bankruptcy. And as the legal battle between Mattress Firm and a trio of brokers it says profited through reckless dealmaking continues to play out in court, the company’s been hit with another suit. In it, mattress brand Tempur-Pedic — which lost its contract to sell products in 3,300 Mattress Firms last year — alleges that the retailer’s “Therapedic“-branded product line is a copycat version of its own bedding and that gullible consumers will be “will inevitably be confused and harmed,” by the knockoffs.

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Laid to Rest
09/21/18 12:30pm

A nationwide franchise of about a dozen kids obstacle gyms is bringing its latest location to the new business park in Katy, on Franz Rd. about a mile inside the Grand Pkwy. Its name — USA Ninja Challenge — plays off that of the 10-seasons-old sports entertainment show American Ninja Warrior, on which contestants ages 19 and up race through a series of physical challenges before a live audience.

USA Ninja Challenge serves a younger demographic: Kids 4 to 17 are split into groups with their peers and tasked with scaling things like sloped walls, rock climbing walls, ladders, cargo nets, and peg boards — as well as balancing on slack lines and other easy-to-fall off objects. Six levels of training make up the official curriculum, each containing 27 individual skills for students to check off.

At the 22564 Franz Rd. location — the chain’s first in Texas — it’ll all go down inside the 7,000-sq.-ft. box pictured at top. It’s nestled within the triangular Franz at Elrod complex shown in the map above with north on the right. Classes start just over a month from now, on October 22.

Photo: USA Ninja Challenge. Map: LoopNet

USA Ninja Challenge
09/20/18 11:15am

In the span of just 3 days, the Heights Jack in the Box has closed down and abandoned both its sky- and street-level boxes. The photo above shows the empty store and its parking lot off Shepherd, where a green cherry-picker‘s now the only vehicle present.

The property’s longtime owner — a national real estate firm that owns the land beneath lots of fast food joints — sold it in 2016, which was a transformational year for the rest of the intersection as well. A few months later, Abel Motors left its spot across Shepherd, making way for the Burger Joint that’s now moving in. And on the south side of 20th St., pizza joint Mellow Mushroom and adjacent desert shop Moody Ice opened up — in what used to be Dealer Sales‘ garage and office building.

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The Leftovers
09/18/18 9:45am

Signage is down and a closure notice is up on Blast Fitness’s now-former 3936 N. Shepherd storefront, which lies within the northern portion of the strip that Aldi plans to take over. Pictured above is that portion — just south of Garden Oaks Blvd. — where Yoga Collective and a next-door vacuum shop took off previously to make room for the grocer. Blast’s turf was on the south side of theirs, near where retail signs and parking activity pick back up on the right in the image.

For those in need of a new gym, not to worry: Blast is letting customers transfer their memberships to any location run by its affiliate brand Fitness Connection. The nearest of that chain’s 14 Houston fitness centers? Eight miles away in Greenspoint Mall.

Photos: Dan Bradley

Clearing the Way
09/13/18 4:00pm

The second Ace Hardware liquidation of the week will leave behind a slightly larger hole than the one on Westheimer: 19,930 sq.-ft. as opposed to 18,900. Pictured above is the retail co-op’s Hwy. 6 location in the Providence Plaza shopping center off Bissonnet. Management’s selling off everything it’s got left there now, reports a Swamplot reader. And the post office inside the store has already shut down for good.

Before a few years ago, the storefront entrance looked like a smaller version of Dollar Tree’s next door:

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Retooling
09/13/18 10:45am

 

The mark of Aldi now appears at 9525 Westheimer, smack in the middle of the strip where Batie’s Ace Hardware is going out of business. Liquidation sales began there on Tuesday — reports a Swamplot reader — with the goal of creating an 18,900-sq.-ft. hole in the portion of the building pictured at top, adjacent to Party City.

Currently about half a dozen Aldis are open inside the Beltway, with additional reinforcements scheduled to arrive soon.

Photo: Swamplox inbox. Map: Brixmor

Westheimer Near Gessner
09/12/18 9:30am

That’s El Rancho’s signage taking the place of Randalls’ in the photo above — which views the Keegan’s Meadow shopping center from the north along W. Bellfort. At 53,200 sq.-ft., the new Stafford store will be slightly bigger than El Rancho’s one other Houston location, opened along I-45 just inside the Beltway in June. There, all the typical grocery standards are present, along with a butcher shop, seafood counter, produce section, and bakery. Plus, there are some extras: a tortilleria and in-house Latin-American-style kitchen.

Two more El Ranchos are in the works, too: the first further up the North Fwy. on the outskirts of Spring, and the other in the old Oak Forest Randalls, gone from 34th St. since earlier this year.

Photo: Dennis Scipio

Supermarket Goes Supermercado
09/07/18 3:30pm

It used to just be a buck, until “about 10 years ago it went to $2,” writes a moviegoer. By then the theater had already been around for decades in the back of its namesake Wind Chimes Shopping Center at Westheimer and Eldridge — once the setting itself of a movie shot by a local production company. Following roughly 40 years there, “It was just about the last dollar movie open in Houston,” the former patron declares. (Still around, notes the sign, is the North Oaks Cinema 6 at FM 1960 and Stuebner Airline — where the same owners will sell you a $2 ticket to see any of 8 selections right now.)

What that price got you at Windchimes: admission to feature films that hadn’t quite made it to DVD yet after finishing up their time in first-run theaters. And on top of that, arcade games:

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Cut!