Bilbo Bags It? No, But the Hobbit Has a New Hole
News of the Hobbit Hole's unexpected August closing had Montrose health nuts shaking in their Birkenstocks. After all, the Hole's been a fixture on Houston's smoothie-and-sprouts circuit since forever. Despite the coy answering-machine message ("The Hobbits are on a quest for a new location"), many feared that their tabouli salad days had ended.

Not so, says Hobbit partner Raymond Edmonds. Raymond and his brother Forrest opened the Hobbit Hole exactly "26 and a half years ago," when they were both fresh out of UT, and they don't intend to give up Gandolf's ghost just yet.

"We'd been planning this move for months," says Raymond Edmonds. "We'd hoped for a smooth transition, maybe closing just for a week or two. But the delays got us, and we had to go."

It's faintly ironic that the ramshackle red brick house at 1715 South Shepherd that housed the Hobbit all these years will be torn down to provide more parking for another health-oriented food outlet -- the neighboring Cafe Takeaway -- which will be shared with the Urban Retreat skin-care center. Cafe Takeaway's business has been "just great," reports co-owner David Newman; he and his wife, Tammy Jo, along with partner Francie Willis, await the wrecking "any day now."

As for the Edmonds brothers, they once again face the parking monster. In early October, they signed a lease on another old house -- this one at 2240 Portsmouth, southeast of the intersection of Richmond and Kirby. The house has a lovely back yard with an evergreen tree the Edmonds want to build their deck around -- but the developer would rather have paved the back for parking. Those negotiations further delayed the Hobbit's reopening.

"We got all that worked out, though," says Edmonds. "We're going to preserve the tree, and our customers will be able to get to our parking lot from Richmond." The new deck will seat 70 people; indoor tables will accommodate 80 more. "The house isn't bigger than the old one," he notes, "we can just use the space better."

The Edmonds brothers hope to open around the first of the year. Raymond says to watch for a "big sign" on Richmond.

-- Margaret L. Briggs


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