Openings & Closings: August 2011

Earlier this week, rumors were flying that Greatfull Taco would soon be closing its doors -- a move that many were expecting for months, given the restaurant's "cursed" location and the loss of its chef -- and the rumors proved true.

Owner Paul West told CultureMap that he received an offer from Torchy's Tacos to turn the spot into a Torchy's of Houston's own. You'll remember that this had been West's intention from the beginning, but one that never panned out. However, our sources indicate that it was Torchy's who approached West, making him an offer he couldn't refuse: ditch the failing location and let them take over.

Regardless, Greatfull Taco closed quickly after its last service yesterday, with the employees given no advance notice, although Torchy's claims that it will be opening again in the spot within two to three months. Will this latest venture at 2411 S. Shepherd be any less ill-fated than its predecessors? With the Texas-famous Torchy's brand behind it, this might be the best shot the location has at finding a restaurant that will last.

In happier news, two new coffee shops cropped up this week, both with entirely different personalities of their own.

Ben's Beans, as mentioned yesterday, is filling out a 100-year-old building on Dallas that's been beautifully renovated and turned into a cozy haunt for local students and downtown denizens. Dark red walls, blues on the stereo and coffee from local roaster Fontana make this a no-brainer destination to get away from it all for an hour or two.

And on the fringe of River Oaks, Petite Sweets -- from the same team that opened BRC and is currently working on Liberty Kitchen in the Heights -- opened earlier this week. The light-filled store is half bakery, half coffee shop, all cute. Although macarons here are a little pricey ($1.75 each!), they're at least delicious enough to justify the price. And a perfectly-pulled espresso (made with Amaya beans, also locally roasted) I received makes me want to make repeat visits to this sweet space.

The Woodlands has two new dining destinations as well: Zoe's Kitchen and The Counter, both aiming to pull in big numbers in the 'burbs. There's simply no way a modern malt shop like The Counter and a semi-healthy, fast-casual spot Zoe's will fail here. They both have "kid-friendly suburban appeal" written all over them (and that's not a knock at all).

Last but not least, the opening of Beef O' Brady's in Lake Jackson brought to mind the most recent episode of Bar Rescue (don't act like you're not watching that show; I'll take Taffer over Gordon Ramsey any day of the week), where host Jon Taffer told his bar project of the week that there is no such thing as a family-friendly bar.

"You don't bring your kids to look at liquor bottles behind the bar," he tried to tell its owners. Tell that to Beef O' Brady's, Jon, which is billing itself as a "family sports pub." You know how kids love spilled beer and sharp darts...

Click ahead for the month in openings and closings.

 Openings

Aldo's Cucina Italiana, 18450 I-45 South, Shenandoah, 936-447-9623 Antonia's Cucina Italiano, 4849 Sweetwater, Sugar Land, 281-265-4000 Beck's Prime, 115 West 19th Street, 713-470-1176 Beef O Bradys, 145 Oyster Creek Drive, Lake Jackson, 979-285-9563 Ben's Beans, 1302 Dallas, 713-654-8856 Black Walnut Cafe, 23233 Cinco Ranch Boulevard, Katy, 281-371-2233 Bootsie's Heritage Cafe (closed and reopened, under Bootsie herself), 112 Commerce, Tomball, 281-356-9699 The Blue Fish, 5820 Washington, 713-862-3473 Cafe Luz, 907 Franklin, 281-912-3589 Carl's Jr, 11131 Broadway, Pearland, 713-340-1970 Coppa Ristorante Italiano, 5555 Washington Avenue, 713-426-4260 The Counter, 9595 Six Pines, The Woodlands, 281-231-2147 El Gran Malo, 2307 Ella, 832-767-3405 El Rancho Seafood & Oyster Bar, 2323 N. Fry Road, Katy, 281-492-8383 Felix 55, 5510 Morningside Drive, 713-590-0610 Ninja Japanese Cuisine, 1800 FM 359, Richmond, 281-239-2299 Orchid Thai Fusion, 17817 FM 529, 281-345-7100 Party Fowl, mobile food truck Petite Sweets, 2700 West Alabama, 713-520-7007 Radical Eats, 3903 Fulton, 281-222-7647 Ranch Bakery, 5431 Barker Cypress, 713-589-8797 Tejas Grill & Sports Bar, 1200 McKinney, 713-739-8352 Tookie's, 1202 Bayport Boulevard, Seabrook, 281-942-9334 Vida, 4218 San Felipe, 713-961-9200 Zoe's Kitchen, 6700 Woodlands Parkway, The Woodlands, 281-419-5985

Closings

Antone's Famous, 2424 Dunstan Americas, 1800 Post Oak Boulevard Bootsie's Heritage Cafe Cafe Under the Oaks, 615 East Main, League City Chabuca's Steaks & Rotisserie, 316 West NASA Road 1, Webster City Eats, 4003 Rustic Woods Drive, Kingwood Cut & Fry, mobile food truck Freshii,1531 Eldridge Parkway Green Apple Cafe, 3145 Highway 6 Habaneros Mex-Grill, 3017 Milam Manvel In-laws & Outlaws BBQ, 20321 Highway 6, Manvel Matt's Restaurant and Lounge, 3202 Marina Bay Drive, Kemah Moreno's Bar-B-Que Restaurant, 1425 NASA Parkway Pagoda Vietnamese Bistro & Bar, 4705 Inker Pavani Express, 943 S. Mason Road, Katy Red Balloon Cafe, 4410 Westway Park Boulevard, Suite 300 Sweet n Namkin, 10736 West Bellfort Sweet Tea Cafe & Tea Bar, 325 West 19th Street Whollie! Guacamole Mexican Cocina, 23110 Kuykendahl, Tomball



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