Rest(aurants) in Peace: Notable Closings of 2012

Categories: Restaurant News

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Photo by Andrew Shrewsbury
Some men just want to watch the world burn.
Some restaurants just couldn't wait for the Mayan apocalypse on December 21, 2012, and decided to implode all on their own, while other restaurants simply expired of old age and waning interest in a city that's constantly chasing after the next big thing.

Instead of a toast to the restaurants we'll miss the most (as we did in 2011 and in 2010), this year we're rounding up the most notable restaurant closings of 2012. Because -- let's be honest -- not all of these restaurants are worth missing.

Fire Sale

They say that bad luck happens in threes, and that was certainly the case with three devastating fires that shut down three popular Houston restaurants, starting with the blaze that consumed Late Nite Pie late at night in February. The fire was later determined to be arson, as was the fire that heavily damaged fellow pizza parlor Dolce Vita in May. Jacob Colby Garvin, an alleged homeless man living nearby, was arrested in connection with the fire in June and -- thankfully -- Dolce Vita made a full recovery, reopening in August.

The Broken Spoke, however, wasn't so lucky. A fire that was allegedly set by another homeless man completely destroyed the Belgian restaurant in September. Owner Roy de la Garza decided not to reopen the restaurant, citing competition from his former partner -- Catherine Duwez, who left to open Cafe Brussels not far away -- and being understandably busy in his day job as principal of Milby High School.

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Photo by Troy Fields
Stella Sola: one of the biggest restaurant closings of 2012.
Twice Bitten

Some locations are just unlucky for reasons of location, traffic, parking or simply bad vibes. Whatever it is, four restaurants in two different locations came and went over the course of the last year, starting with the ill-fated Oceans. Owners Jorge and Isaac Alvarez took over the old Bistro Vino spot on West Alabama with a big splash, but the ceviches and high-end Mexican seafood dishes didn't quite catch on. Undeterred, the brothers closed Oceans in May and partnered with chef Jonathan Jones -- who'd just left Xuco Xicana -- to reopen the space as Concepcion. But even Jones's talents couldn't save the old white mansion, and Concepcion closed in September after Jones departed for a position at The Monarch at Hotel ZaZa.

Meanwhile, down in Alvin, seafood-happy steakhouse The Barbed Rose received plenty of good press under chef Jason Chaney after opening in 2010, but perhaps the exurb wasn't quite the best market for the upscale restaurant -- it closed in June. Only five short days after closing, the space reopened under the same ownership as Coastal Crossing Grill -- but that wasn't the right fit either, as it closed only a few months later in October.

And just as the old white house on West Alabama may be a permanently jinxed location, the restaurant space at 1001 Studewood may be joining that list -- although it's really too soon to tell. After hosting exponential failure Bedford when it was first built, the spot also lost Stella Sola in one of 2012's biggest restaurant closings after opening to great acclaim in late 2009.

Stella Sola went through three chefs during its short but spectacular run: Jason Gould, Justin Basye and Adam Dorris -- all of whom are incredible talents. When the restaurant closed in May, steakhouse stalwart Ronnie Killen attempted to open a second outpost of Killen's Steakhouse there but was stymied by a War and Peace-length lease that the landlord wanted signed. The space remains vacant for now, and what will move in there remains to be seen.

Location Info

Late Nite Pie

302 Tuam, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Dolce Vita Pizzeria & Enoteca

500 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Broken Spoke Cafe - CLOSED

1809 Washington, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Ocean's - CLOSED

819 W. Alabama, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Concepcion - CLOSED

819 W. Alabama St., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

The Barbed Rose Steakhouse and Seafood Co. - CLOSED

113 E. Sealy St., Alvin, TX

Category: Restaurant

Coastal Crossing Grill - CLOSED

113 E. Sealy St., Alvin, TX

Category: Restaurant

Stella Sola - CLOSED

1001 Studewood, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Cova Hand Selected Wines (Washington) - CLOSED

5555 Washington Ave., Houston, TX

Category: General

Block 7 Wine Company - CLOSED

720 Shepherd, Houston, TX

Category: General

Cova Hand Selected Wines (Kirby) - CLOSED

5600 Kirby Drive, Houston, TX

Category: General

Pesce - CLOSED

3029 Kirby, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Vida Sexy Tex-Mex - CLOSED

4224 San Felipe St., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Maggie Rita's Modern Mex - CLOSED

1400 Shepherd Drive, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Maggie Rita's Modern Mex - CLOSED

3601 Kirby Drive, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Xuco Xicana

2416 Brazos St., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Korma Sutra - CLOSED

706 Main, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Bibas Brooklyn Express - CLOSED

233 Main St., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Samba Grille - CLOSED

530 Texas Ave., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Strip House - CLOSED

1200 McKinney St., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Ziggy's Bar and Grill - CLOSED

702 Main St., Houston, TX

Category: Music

Cabo, The Original Mix-Mex Grill - CLOSED

419 Travis St., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

The Pass

807 Taft St., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Gravitas - CLOSED

807 Taft, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Kraftsmen Bakery

611 W 22nd St., Houston, TX

Category: General

Ruggles - CLOSED

903 Westheimer, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Dharma Cafe - CLOSED

1718 Houston Ave., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Dragon Bowl Asian Bistro - CLOSED

1221 W. 11th St., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Nabi - CLOSED

1517 Westheimer Road, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Zimm's Little Deck - CLOSED

601 Richmond Ave., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant


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28 comments
Smedley
Smedley

I know, Late Nite wasn't all that fantastic of a pizza place, but I do miss table top Ms. Pacman and I really did like me some Stanky Whore.

gossamersixteen
gossamersixteen topcommenter

Meh, still worried about Chinese Cafe on Bellaire closing.. That would be tragic, I so love stir fried snow pea leaves, and double spicy chicken...

Lorraine
Lorraine

Didn't Molina's finally close?

Texano78704
Texano78704

Thousands of Houstonians eat in downtown tunnel restaurants every day and all they get is a passing gibe?

Vonnie Maddox
Vonnie Maddox

I miss Steak N' Ale too Sharon. But I think for me it would be Bennigan's. Though I think both of them closed before 2012. lol

Sharon Mixon Lawlis Jackson
Sharon Mixon Lawlis Jackson

I don't have time to read the article right now but I miss Steak "N Ale. It was good food, nice atmosphere and could easily go there to celebrate a birthday or have an intimate meal with someone. I miss that place!

Na Li
Na Li

been gone a while but Green Planet Vegaterian - and I'm not vegaterian but it was my favorite place to eat.

cathiwalsh
cathiwalsh

the closing of t'afia, to be reborn as Sparrow ... 

Kylejack
Kylejack topcommenter

I don't think arson counts as bad luck. :)

kevbevking
kevbevking

@Lorraine Planning to close maybe....but aside from the one that closed on Buffalo Speedway and the other on Hwy 6, none have closed that I know of. You don't hear much about them anymore really.

sphilpot50
sphilpot50

No. Molina's has three locations. Westheimer Rd., Washington Ave, and Bellaire Blvd.

J.A.Justice
J.A.Justice

@Jimi Austin La Strada closed 3 years ago and has closed as its subsequent incarnations twice more.

kshilcutt
kshilcutt moderator editor

@Texano78704 The tunnels are so full of mediocre chains and depressing florescent lighting that it's tough for me to be charmed by them. I didn't like the tunnels when I worked downtown the first time around in the late '90s and I still don't like them today. I'd rather be out in the fresh air during my lunch hour, no matter how hot it gets in Houston. Just a personal preference!  :)

Texano78704
Texano78704

@kshilcutt Even a five minute trek above ground will get you sweaty six months out of the year (or wet if it is raining). It also means you get to pay $15 (or more) for a lunch that might only cost $8 or $10 in the tunnel. I'm happy to eat at mediocre Beck's Prime or Treebeards, as sunlight and fresh air are way overrated. ;)

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