Restaurant News

Openings & Closings: Bye-bye, Black-Eyed Pea

Spanky’s Pizza, Pasta and Amore, 4010 Spencer Highway is close to opening in Pasadena. The Houston Chronicle reported that this locally-owned business wanted to open a family-friendly pizza parlor in the Pasadena area. Construction is in its final stages with an opening set for November on the site where Gabby’s BBQ used to stand. The same owners operated Gabby’s since the 1980s until it closed last year. Spanky’s will offer pizza, pasta, wings, bottled and draft beer and mixed cocktails.

Community Impact Newspaper reported that George Bush Intercontinental Airport has plans to undergo a facelift of giant proportions with a $4 Billion plan for renovations over the next decade. Changes will include an “overhaul of four of five of its terminals, the addition of 120 restaurants and shops and the creation of more than 2000 new parking spaces,” said Jarrett Simmons, assistant director of aviation, capital projects and planning for the Houston Airport System. Simmons added that within a year, restaurants including The Breakfast Klub, Hubcap Grill and Hugo’s will open and Tony’s Wine Cellar & Bistro (from Tony Vallone) opened in early August in Terminal D.

Relish Restaurant & Bar officially opened on Monday at 2810 Westheimer, in the former home of the Bird & the Bear. Relish Fine Foods closed its doors on August 20 in order to open this new, larger space just a couple miles east. In an interview with the Chronicle, co-owner Addie D'Agostino Teague shared that they are keeping a few favorite items on the menu, “such as our soups and chicken salad, but are adding some really great things like a house ground burger and panzanella salad with fresh Italian burrata!” The restaurant space has doubled in size and the large outdoor patio is ready just in time for cooler Houston temps.

Cousins Maine Lobster
is now permanently parked in two locations. Fans of the food truck can find it in North Houston at Bernie’s Backyard in Spring at 22314 Interstate 45 North and at Deacon Baldy’s in Magnolia at 5447 FM 1488 Road. According to Eric Sandler of CultureMap Houston, Cousins Houston vice president Eric Williams says the company does not have plans to build a brick and mortar at this time. The parked trailer “offers the same menu as the trucks, including the signature lobster rolls and new items like lobster grilled cheese have also proven popular,” he added.

Also setting up base at Deacon Baldy’s is Luca Manfé’s popular Lucky Fig Italian food truck. Manfé was the winner of MasterChef (Season Four) and opened his truck in December 2015. The “farm to streets” gourmet food truck continues to deliver lovely Italian fare that belongs more on a white plate rather than an eco-friendly paper container. Phaedra Cook then of the Houston Press talked to Manfé back in April when he shared hopes of opening a brick-and-mortar by the end of year. Today, plans have changed and Manfé told CultureMap Houston that, “if serving at Deacon Baldy’s proves successful, he’ll begin looking for a location in The Woodlands.”

On October 9, Ponzo’s Italian Food, 2515 Bagby, posted a farewell message on its Facebook wall that said, “Sunday, October 16 Ponzo's will be closing our doors for the last time. We'd like to thank all our loyal customers for all the business you've given us through the years. Please come see us and have some pizza or rolls during this last week of business. We'll miss you all! Arrivederci!”

According to CultureMap Houston, the pizza parlor was known for its “East coast-style mix of pizza, calzones, subs, and salads” and the “Sunday night special” which consisted of a “pepperoni, black olive and jalapeño pizza with a slice of chocolate eruption cake.” The Houston Press talked to a manager at the restaurant who said that they decided to close because “we were not doing so well and the rent went up.”

Black-Eyed Pea, a southern comfort restaurant has closed many of its Texas locations. According to an article in the Fort Worth Star Telegram, the restaurant filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection back in December 2015. Teresa Gubbins of CultureMap Houston reported that on September 27, a number of stores including Fort Worth, North Dallas and the Houston location at 5410 Bellaire posted "temporarily closed" signs on the doors, stating, "we will let you know when we are able to reopen."

The long-awaited second Houston location of Austin-based Pluckers at 10407 Katy Freeway in the Memorial City area is scheduled to open on October 17. Social media followers can enter for a chance to win free Pluckers wings for an entire year at the new location. More information is available on its website. According to the Houston Business Journal, the restaurant also announced it recently signed a lease for a location on the Gulf Freeway, north of NASA 1 Bypass. The restaurant is open Sunday through Wednesday from 11 a.m. to midnight, Thursday from 11 a.m. to 1 a.m., and Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Rangoli Fine Indian Cuisine, 10728 Cypress Creek Parkway in Cypress, closed its doors on September 19. A man who identified himself as the owner/operator (but did not disclose his name) told the Press that the “business is closed temporarily because of a death in the family. Plans to reopen are unclear at this time.” The restaurant opened in August 2013 and served Indian cuisine with many vegetarian and buffet options.

Greg Morago of the Chronicle reported that two new Italian restaurants are coming to 500 Crawford in the Downtown area by December. They will be managed by restaurateurs Bill Floyd and Bryan Caswell and backed by Astros owner, Jim Crane. Both named in honor of the nicknames of Jim Crane’s children, the dual concepts will be called Osso and Kristalla. The former will be a “white tablecloth restaurant with a Northern Italian menu featuring veal, steaks, seafood and house-made pasta,” and the latter will be more of a casual Italian diner.

Rico’s Mexican Grill, 25250 Northwest Freeway, suite 190, in Cypress closed sometime in late September. A Yelper reported seeing a note on the restaurant’s door that said, “tenants were locked out due to non-payment of rent.” Both the Kingwood location (8000 Research Forest Drive) and the Spring/Cypress location (8765 Spring Cypress Road, Suite I) remain open with a note on its website of another restaurant coming soon to Kingwood.

That's it for this week's restaurant openings and closings! Leave us a comment or send us an email to let us know if we missed something.

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Cuc Lam is a freelance food writer for the Houston Press and local pop-up chef. She enjoys teaching cooking classes and hosting dinner parties when she is not writing.