Rest(aurants) in Peace: Notable Closings of 2012
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.
Photo by Andrew Shrewsbury Some men just want to watch the world burn.
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.
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.
Photo by Troy Fields Stella Sola: one of the biggest restaurant closings of 2012.
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.
113 E. Sealy St., Alvin, TX