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Carmelo's is back in business. Meatball lovers rejoice!
Carmelo's is back in business. Meatball lovers rejoice!
Photo by Houston Press Staff

Openings and Closings: Carmelo's Returns, Duck Donuts Debut

While many Houstonians bade a tearful farewell on Christmas day to Carmelo's,14795 Memorial, plans were already made for its continued survival. According to The Cleverley Food Talk Radio Show, Carmelo Mauro has sold his namesake restaurant to a local restaurateur, Benjamin Berg. Berg owns B&B Butchers and Restaurant, 1814 Washington, with a second location in Fort Worth that opened at the end of December.

Berg reopens Carmelo's January 3 keeping the name and the staff. Berg's brother, Daniel Berg will serve as executive chef, after having worked with the likes of such notables as Daniel Boulud and Andrew Carmellini, according to the Houston Chronicle.

Design your own donut.EXPAND
Design your own donut.
Photo courtesy of Duck Donuts

Duck Donuts, 3157 West Holcombe, is having a grand opening donut soiree January 6. The customize-your-own donut concept started in 2007 in Duck, North Carolina and is now a chain of franchises making its way from the East Coast across the States. It makes its Texas debut in the Bayou City.

Doughnut lovers fill out a form with preferred toppings and glazes, hand it to the staff and the doughnuts are then made to order, from a freshly fried, vanilla cake base. The possibilities are up to you.

Gringo's Champions reopens after Hurricane Harvey's blow.
Gringo's Champions reopens after Hurricane Harvey's blow.
Photo by Derrick Drake

Gringo's Mexican Kitchen, 6925 Cypresswood, reopened December 12, after devastating damage from Hurricane Harvey, as reported here in the Houston Press. The Champions area outpost of Gringo's was one of a number of restaurants, shops and businesses to suffer severe flooding. There will be a new open concept with the kitchen now visible to diners. Full operating hours will resume January 2, 2018, according to Houston Culture Map.

Shrimp wrapped in bacon. What else do you need? Maybe a rita!EXPAND
Shrimp wrapped in bacon. What else do you need? Maybe a rita!
Photo by Jacqueline Herrera

Tito's Cantina, 25250 Northwest Freeway, opened December 21. The Tex-Mex restaurant's kitchen is led by chef Brett Jackson, formerly of Freedom Barbecue. Jacqueline Herrera, who has experience in management with the likes of Jose Andres and Jeffrey Buben, will serve as General Manager. There will be a grand opening weekend January 26 through January 28, with live entertainment, giveaways, and specials. The restaurant will have a "tortilla cutting" in place of a ribbon cutting. The manager is still in search of a giant tortilla for the occasion.

Pizza is not the only thing on the menu at Zazza.
Pizza is not the only thing on the menu at Zazza.
Photo courtesy of Zazza Pizza Cafe

Zazza Pizza Cafe, 25750 Kuykendahl, is slated to open the third week of January. The first location is at 2466 FM 1488 in Conroe. There are a variety of pizzas, calzones, and pasta, as well as gyros, sandwiches, and wings.The restaurant is BYOB for those who like Chianti with their slice.

Thistle Draft Stop, 5210 FM 2920, had its soft opening December 8. It has a huge variety of local and international beers on tap and a supersized beer cooler with bottles sure to please everyone's taste buds. There is a creative bar menu with burgers, Viet wings, and artichoke hummus. A tipster told us (okay, a friend who knows the owners) that the dish to try is the brussels sprouts. Word is, there's a lot of bacon.

The contemporary ice house design has roll-up doors for the nice weather and lots of large windows to let in natural light.

Thai one on for the New Year.EXPAND
Thai one on for the New Year.
Photo by Saranya Daventnukroh

Up Thai Kitchen, 12904 Fry, had its soft opening November 25. The restaurant's chef was born and raised in Thailand. The new eatery serves beautifully plated Thai comfort food including Tom Yum Goong, a hot and spicy shrimp soup. There are also curries, pad Thai, and basil fried rice. Have a Thai coffee or tea to round out your meal. Online ordering and catering are available.

Openings and Closings: Carmelo's Returns, Duck Donuts DebutEXPAND
Photo by Allie Gibson

Pacific Coast Tacos, 1525 Lake Pointe Parkway, opened officially November 27. The Sugar land area taco joint serves Asian-inspired tacos like Thai chili chicken with peanut sauce, or typical favorites like the PCT beef taco with onion, cilantro and queso fresco. The corn and flour tortillas are made fresh each morning.

Breakfast tacos are served daily 7:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. The weather might be warm enough this weekend to enjoy the restaurant's Killer fries and a margarita on the covered patio that sits along Oyster Creek.

The Blue Fish Katy, 2643 Commercial Center Boulevard, had its soft opening December 3. Started in Dallas with five locations, this makes the fourth location in Houston. Sushi, rice bowls and bento boxes are on the menu, with a happy hour from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., in the bar only.

Tropical Smoothie Cafe, 2575 E. League City Parkway, is having a grand opening on January 6. There will be free smoothies for a year given to the first 50 customers at 7 a.m., given in the form of a free coupon that allows for one free smoothie a week for 52 weeks. A completed purchase is required.

The smoothie chain has expanded to 600 locations nationwide in its twenty-year history. This location is owned by franchisees, Dexter and Remy Rivera. The smoothie shop also sells sandwiches, wraps, salads and flatbreads.

That's all for this week's Openings and Closings. Hit us up in the comments if we've missed a new restaurant or bar we should know about.

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