After a quiet few weeks, a rash of openings, delays and unexpected closings tore through the city this past week, starting with the news that Austin's "sexy Tex-Mex" import Vivo is not coming to San Felipe after all. Despite already having its shingle hung on the newly remodeled strip center between the Galleria and River Oaks, a falling out between owner Roger Diaz and the landlord, Melcher Investments, has led to a permanent split. Diaz and chef Paul Petersen are still very interested in opening a second Vivo in Houston and are actively scouting a new location as well as new investors.
Meanwhile, a few old favorites and a few newcomers closed their doors throughout Houston. King Biscuit Patio Cafe, which had served Heights hippie food since 1982, abruptly closed over the weekend. And as soon as word hit the street of its closure, so did news of its new owner, Sarah Fitzgerald, the same Sarah Fitzgerald of Fitzgerald's. All we know at this point is that Fitzgerald has big plans and a completely new direction for the old restaurant, and we're excited to see what comes of it.
Out on the west side, The Burger Guys and Sapori lost neighbor Edomae Sushi, which closed over the weekend as well. And the Heights lost its newest (and arguably least successful) barbecue joint when Phil's Texas BBQ closed for good on April 26.
And in even more surprising news, the newest concept from the El Tiempo family -- Chispas del Tiempo -- closed abruptly last Wednesday. The barbecue/Tex-Mex fast-casual cafe across from Teotihuacan in the Heights just opened in April, but the concept didn't quite take off, and El Tiempo decided to cut its losses early on.
In brighter news, Brasserie 19, the new French bistro-meets-Gulf Coast concept from Charles Clark and Grant Cooper, opened this past Wednesday. CultureMap's Shelby Hodge went to the preview party and approved of the brasserie's large white marble bar and the unusually low wine prices. We weren't invited to the River Oaks soirée, but we also don't dress as nice as Shelby or the Chron's wine writer, Dale Robertson.
And in even happier news, the folks behind Sushi King have opened Keeper's Japanese in Sugar Land, with -- you guessed it -- sushi king himself Keeper Lin at the helm. There's never been a better reason to brave Highway 59. (Not to mention it goes a long way toward making up for losing Edomae Sushi.)
Last but not least, Arturo Boada Cuisine attempted to open quietly over the weekend but was slammed for its soft opening on Saturday night regardless. We think that's probably a good sign for Chef Boada, who -- as you'll remember -- recently left Arturo's Uptown Italiano and proceeded to file a lawsuit against his former employer.
On the following page, a wrap up of all the openings and closings that took place in April 2011.
Arturo Boada Cuisine, 6510 Del Monte Brasserie 19, 1962 West Gray, 713-524-1919 Dunn Bros Coffee, 201 S. Friendswood Drive Golden Chef Super Buffet, 12983 Bellaire, 281-933-9339 Green Apple Cafe, 3145 Highway 6, Hitchcock, 409-908-0290 Hot Spot Diner, 20669 West Lake Houston Parkway, Humble, 281-540-4500 Juan and Lefty's, 1440 Louetta, Spring, 281-288-1270 Keeper's Japanese, 4654 Highway 6, Sugar Land, 281-242-0389 Kobecue, 3957 Richmond Kofa Cafe, 20514 Highway 6, Manvel, 281-489-1060 Mai's, 3403 Milam, 713-520-5300 Mi Hacienda, 13726 Highway 249, 281-260-0027 Molto's Food & Cafe, 306 Main, 713-222-7778 Peppersoup Cafe, 10010 Bissonnet, 713-776-8989 Pie Garden, 1325 Broadway, Pearland Pizzeria Alto, 2800 Kirby, 713-386-6460 Rich Asian Cuisine, 510 S. Mason, Katy, 832-437-0828 Saltenas Mediterranean Cafe Grill, 981 S. Mason, 281-398-4711 Tropical Cowboy Brazilian Steakhouse, 815 Dixie, Clute, 979-265-2333
Buffalo Grille, 3116 Bissonnet (moved to 4080 Bissonnet) China First Dumpling, 128 1st Street West, Humble Chispas Del Tiempo, 1540 Airline Drive Edomae Sushi, 12225 Westheimer, Suite H Fuji Hana, 7316 Louetta, Spring Italian Cafe Amore, 11910 Louetta Kathleen's Mexican Restaurant, 6965 Barker Cypress Mingalone Italian Bar & Grill, 540 Texas Pete & Shorty's, 17790 Katy Freeway Phil's Texas Barbecue, 110 South Heights Sabine River Cafe, 10001 Westheimer, Suite 2520 Spalato Gelateria, 22758 Westheimer Parkway, Suite 200, Katy SouthStreet Dining, 24914 Kuykendahl, Suite F, Tomball Tart Cafe, 4411 Montrose Thai Spice Asian Bistro, 13602 Bellaire Washington Grill, 2811 Washington