Shepherd Plaza Scuttlebutt
Trammell Crow property managers are grinning ear to ear at the prospect of filling a couple of cavities in the Shepherd Plaza center near the intersection of Shepherd and Richmond.

An ambitious theme park/club/restaurant is slated to open May 1 in the space abandoned by 8.0. Called Amazon 2050 A.D., the new venue for Dale Peters (of Daiquiri Factory fame) promises to be an amalgam of futuristic rain forest, paper-parasol cocktails and virtual-reality retail. New Orleans architects Mouton & Long have whitewashed the wonderful 8.0 murals in favor of a Jurassic Park-meets-Blade Runner look.

Speaking of the Big Easy, a New Orleans restaurateur, Russell Civello, has designs on the corner spot at 2181 Richmond formerly occupied by Mick's Gulf Coast Grill. Civello and chef/partner Glen Trumble -- formerly sous chef at the Riviera Grill -- will open La Louisianne, a bistro in the "grand French-Creole" tradition, sometime around mid-June.

Mick's sank early this year, leaving hardly a ripple. Owner Mickey Wooten couldn't resolve his parking problems with the center's landlord. "After seven o'clock at night we had no parking at all," complains Wooten. "It was gridlock."

Despite acclaim for his Gulf Coast seafood and game menu, Wooten's well-heeled target audience couldn't hack the parking competition from nightclubs like the Voodoo Lounge, Ballroom and Q-Cafe. In February, Wooten gave up, walking away from an estimated quarter-mil in Ralph Laurenesque decor.

Wooten still believes his format can succeed, and is looking for a partner and a new location. He wants to stay inside the Loop, but has ruled out downtown -- "too much of a lottery," he says.

Of course, the lure of the lottery is the notion that somebody has to win. Luck is currently smiling on Cabo, another Shepherd Plaza tenant, well known for its fish tacos but better loved for its killer margaritas. The popular nightspot inaugurated its new downtown location at 419 Travis just in time for the Houston International Festival on April 17, and welcomed a wall-to-wall crowd of 500 thirsty guests on opening night.

Jimmy Corona, who is Cabo's director of development (and whose feet hurt the morning after), reports that the new store rang up $17,000 in its first eight hours of operation. A staggering 75 percent of the till was collected at the bar. (No pun intended.)

Cabo is owned by the BFX Hospitality Group out of Fort Worth, who also brought you the Cat's Meow in New Orleans and the Stockyard Hotel in Fort Worth. The consortium is scouting yet another Houston site to open within the next four months or so; the likeliest locales are Carillon West and the Woodway/Bering area.

-- Margaret L. Briggs


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