Openings & Closings: April 2011

Categories: Restaurant News

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Photo by lc_db
King Biscuit was one of the many restaurants to close over the past week.
After a quiet few weeks, a rash of openings, delays and unexpected closings tore through the city this past week, starting with the news that Austin's "sexy Tex-Mex" import Vivo is not coming to San Felipe after all. Despite already having its shingle hung on the newly remodeled strip center between the Galleria and River Oaks, a falling out between owner Roger Diaz and the landlord, Melcher Investments, has led to a permanent split. Diaz and chef Paul Petersen are still very interested in opening a second Vivo in Houston and are actively scouting a new location as well as new investors.

Meanwhile, a few old favorites and a few newcomers closed their doors throughout Houston. King Biscuit Patio Cafe, which had served Heights hippie food since 1982, abruptly closed over the weekend. And as soon as word hit the street of its closure, so did news of its new owner, Sarah Fitzgerald, the same Sarah Fitzgerald of Fitzgerald's. All we know at this point is that Fitzgerald has big plans and a completely new direction for the old restaurant, and we're excited to see what comes of it.

Out on the west side, The Burger Guys and Sapori lost neighbor Edomae Sushi, which closed over the weekend as well. And the Heights lost its newest (and arguably least successful) barbecue joint when Phil's Texas BBQ closed for good on April 26.

And in even more surprising news, the newest concept from the El Tiempo family -- Chispas del Tiempo -- closed abruptly last Wednesday. The barbecue/Tex-Mex fast-casual cafe across from Teotihuacan in the Heights just opened in April, but the concept didn't quite take off, and El Tiempo decided to cut its losses early on.

In brighter news, Brasserie 19, the new French bistro-meets-Gulf Coast concept from Charles Clark and Grant Cooper, opened this past Wednesday. CultureMap's Shelby Hodge went to the preview party and approved of the brasserie's large white marble bar and the unusually low wine prices. We weren't invited to the River Oaks soirée, but we also don't dress as nice as Shelby or the Chron's wine writer, Dale Robertson.

And in even happier news, the folks behind Sushi King have opened Keeper's Japanese in Sugar Land, with -- you guessed it -- sushi king himself Keeper Lin at the helm. There's never been a better reason to brave Highway 59. (Not to mention it goes a long way toward making up for losing Edomae Sushi.)

Last but not least, Arturo Boada Cuisine attempted to open quietly over the weekend but was slammed for its soft opening on Saturday night regardless. We think that's probably a good sign for Chef Boada, who -- as you'll remember -- recently left Arturo's Uptown Italiano and proceeded to file a lawsuit against his former employer.

On the following page, a wrap up of all the openings and closings that took place in April 2011.

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9 comments
C.
C.

Noooo! Not Tart Cafe! I never understood why that place wasn't packed, though it didn't help that they had such limited hours. I loved that place.

Jim Ayres
Jim Ayres

Conspicuously absent from the openings list is Greatfull Taco. I thought it was to open with much fanfare on April 17? It didn't, and hasn't yet.

Dunstan12
Dunstan12

How do the Laurenzo's open Chispas and close it within a month?

I had just heard of the place, and was getting ready to try it.

They should try advertising a new b=place before closing it.

GentianO
GentianO

Think that Edomae Sushi is still going, although not strong. I was at Sapori yesterday and they were open.

Anse
Anse

Gonna miss the Biscuit. The food was nothing special but the scene was the antithesis of trendy. Almost all locals, fiftyish divorcees, Hawaiian-shirt alcoholics, a few jazz aficionados...I sorta imagined it as the place the fake-chested, fake-tanned Washington Ave set would end up after a couple of failed marriages and years of chainsmoking. Good times.

Sarah Rufca
Sarah Rufca

The owners are closing it to be stay-at-home dads (or at least one will be at home, not sure) and Tart was too much work. I'm sad but they seemed really happy about it and there should be something new going in there eventually.

Sarah Rufca
Sarah Rufca

Strangely Greatfull Taco had its "grand opening" concert on the 17th but other than that hasn't actually opened.

mollusk
mollusk

Two places down for that location. We went there one evening - we were the only ones there, while Teotihuacan across the street was packed as usual. The food was decent, but service (while pleasant) was a bit weird - they dished all of the sides into "to go" containers, complete with lids.

GantryE
GantryE

It's open; never closed, except in the imagination of some.

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