Openings & Closings in Houston: Willowbrook Has Deep Dish Pizza Now

Maine-ly Sandwiches is regrouping and starting a Kickstarter campaign
Maine-ly Sandwiches is regrouping and starting a Kickstarter campaign
Photo by Kaitlin Steinberg

The Willowbrook area got its very own Chicago-style deep dish pizza place on February 26. Gino's East at 17116 Tomball Parkway is now open in the former Bikinis spot. (ATX Brands, is the company behind both businesses. They own the Bikinis chain and are a franchisee of the Gino's East brand.)

It's the second Houston-area location, and follows one that opened in The Woodlands in December at 25657 I-45 North. Deep dish pizza takes a long time to bake, so wait times at The Woodlands location have been a regular source of customer complaints. To resolve the issue, the company will add and carry-out service to both places starting on April 1. The Woodlands location will also offer deliver and the Willowbrook one will follow suit on May 1.

The first traditional, free-standing Texas location of PJ's Coffee of New Orleans is opening at 2155 Durham on Monday, March 9. It's run by a native of New Orleans, Jessica Taylor, whose history with the brand goes back to her college days. A press release quotes her as saying, ""When I left New Orleans to attend college at Texas A&M, I began ordering PJ's online to bring that taste of home to Texas." The company's specialty is cold-drip coffee and has over 80 locations in six states.

Bravissimo! Italian Kitchen opened on March 2 at 11500 Space Center Boulevard. It's from the owners of Cullen's American Grille and Whisky Bar, and is, in fact, next door to the existing establishment. Cullen's executive chef David Coffman is also overseeing the new restaurant's food program. It's a casual Italian concept, where the signature dish is a nine-layer lasagna and entrées start at $8.99. There's also Tuscan bean soup, Caesar salad, Caprese salad and an assortment of pasta dishes. The restaurant also has a full bar.

Texas pit-smoked barbecue is coming to River Oaks. According to the Houston Chronicle's barbecue columnist, J.C. Reid, a self-taught barbecuer named Grant Pinkerton is opening Pinkerton's Barbecue in August at 2612 Joanel. Besides smoked meats, the joint will have two other important features: beer and a parking lot.

The Houston Chronicle reported that Piatto in the Heights at 1111 Studewood has closed after less than a year. The reason stated on their Facebook page was that "an opportunity came to fruition." It's located in a multi-use building that includes residential space upstairs. Next door is Los Cucos, which Houstonia says isn't suffering any kind of business hit. A reader tip says that a high profile Houston chef—whose prior restaurant closed within the past year—is taking the space. It's an unverified rumor at this point, so we're not naming names yet. However, if it's true, it's good news for the chef and his fans. We got our hopes up but we've checked with the chef and it's not true.

Another reader says that the restaurant that took over Coppa's old space at 5555 Washingon, Ula's Mexican Restaurant, is very close to opening. The original location is in Missouri City. We drove by the spot and while they're not quite open yet, they indeed look pretty close. The doors have been repainted and decked out with the new logo and the windows are papered over, just waiting for the big reveal.

Eater Houston reports that Samurai Noodle, which has been in its soft opening phase for about two weeks, will officially open on Friday, March 6. It's located at 1801 Durham right off the I-10 feeder and is the first dedicated ramen joint inside the 610 Loop. The fast casual establishment will also sell ramen noodles for diners to take home so they can make ramen at home, too.

Commonwealth opened on February 26 in the spot that used to house TQLA at 4610 Washington. There are only a few dining reports from consumers, but they are overwhelmingly positive so far. They'll start serving brunch on Sunday, March 8. Zagat Houston has the lowdown on what to order.

The bar replacing Clutch City Squire at 410 Main has now opened, according to Eater Houston. It's called The Commoner and has a completely new look thanks to remodeling work. The changes include fresh paint, new bar seating and room to play darts. A sophisticated cocktail bar called The Boulevardier is expected to open in the space that once housed Barringer over the coming weeks.

One company has taken to Kickstarter to raise more capital so it can keep going—or at the very least, increase production and decrease wait times. Maine-ly Sandwiches earned a lot of acclaim for the buttery lobster and crab rolls served out of its original Greenspoint location. It then expanded—perhaps too quickly—to both Montrose and Kingwood and also started a food truck. They've now closed the Kingwood location, acknowledging it as a bad business decision and hope to keep to keep the Greenspoint and Montrose locations going.

The Kickstarter page says, "With pledged capital, we will replace used inadequate failing appliances and renovate the kitchen creating a vent-a-hood system to allow for the increasing demand of Fried Clams and other items like Fried Scallops." Katharine Shilcutt at Houstonia has an interview with owner Buddy Charity, where he goes more in-depth as to why the company has turned to Kickstarter for capital rather than via more traditional methods, like banks and investors.

Akamaru Japanese Restaurant, 315 Fairview
BB's Cafe, 406 W Grand Pkwy S., Katy
Bravissimo! Italian Kitchen, 11500 Space Center Blvd
Beaucoup Bar & Grill, 6356 Richmond
Berryhill Baja Grill, 1201 W 43rd
Cajun Fuze, 3702 FM 1960
The Commoner, 410 Main
Commonwealth, 4610 Washington
Cousins Maine Lobster, 4790 Calhoun
Dimassi's Mediterranean Buffet, 22453 Katy Freeway
Gino's East, 17116 Tomball Parkway
Healthy Cow Pizza, Delivery Service
Kaung Kaung San Restaurant, 5757 Ranchester
Kung Fu Tea, 3224 Yoakum Blvd
Harajuku Japanese Grill, 12925 FM 1960 W.
H-E-B, 5895 San Felipe
Mary'z Lebanese Cuisine, 4500 Washington
Mo's Irish Pub, 138 Vintage Park
North Italia, 1700 Post Oak
PJ's Coffee of New Orleans, 2155 Durham
Pura Coffee, 7925 Katy Fwy
Roux 38 Lounge, 3811 Ennis
Saldivia's South American Grill, 10850 Westheimer
Samurai Noodle, 1801 Durham
Shogun Japanese Grill & Sushi Bar, 7417 W Grand Pkwy S., Richmond
Spring Water Café, 14520 Memorial
Sweetwater Seafood, 16525 Lexington Boulevard, Sugar Land
Table 57 (H-E-B) 5895 San Felipe
Trader Joe's, 2717 Commercial Center
Tsukiji Fusion Sushi, 24449 Katy Freeway

Arturo's Uptown Italiano, 1180 Uptown Park
Bistro des Amis, 2347 University
Clutch City Squire, 410 Main
Gatlin's BBQ, 1221 W. 19th
Piatto, 1111 Studewood
Texas Cafeteria, 2400 N. Shepherd

That's it for this week's Openings & Closings. What did we miss? Leave a comment below or email us with your restaurant news! Now, turn the page for the list of all the openings and closings we covered in February.>

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