Openings and Closings

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Although it's been a while since our last roundup of restaurant openings and closings around here, that doesn't mean that Houston's culinary community hasn't been busy in the meantime. We have a feast of new places for you to look for in the coming weeks and months, some of which are already open.

As we discussed earlier this week, Cha Champagne Bar (810 Waugh) -- while not officially open yet -- has opened its doors to the public. And even though it was very quiet when we dropped by last Saturday night, we drove by on Wednesday night to see the patio fully packed and a parking lot full of cars. It seems the word has indeed gotten out.

For those of you who (like us) are obsessed with the beefy, beautiful burgers at Sam's Deli Diner but live a little too far away to enjoy them all the time, good news: An outpost of the popular diner has opened in Katy Mills Mall. Time will tell if the new Sam's Deli Diner (1254 Pin Oak Road, Suite 140) will measure up to the old diner, which has been around for more than 30 years, but we have high hopes for it.

In the next few weeks, look for the soft opening of the long-awaited Zelko Bistro (705 East 11th), a home for the talented young chef Jamie Zelko and her farm-fresh, old-fashioned yet modern fare. The restaurant is located directly across the street from Berryhill Tamales in the Heights, along Studewood, making this area of the neighborhood an increasingly popular dining destination (11th Street Cafe, Someburger, DaCapo's and Andy's Cafe are all right down the street). Zelko is concentrating on providing simple, rustic food and a community restaurant for the neighborhood she loves. Alison Cook recently took a tour of the little 1920s house where the restaurant is located, which you can read all about here.

Meanwhile, BRC (which we still can't believe actually stands for Big Red Cock...) is in the process of hiring servers and erecting (yes, we went there) its sign over the building, located at 519 North Shepherd. The joint venture between Lance Fegan and Shepherd Ross -- the duo who also run The Glass Wall in the Heights -- is marketed as an American gastropub with Jeff Axline (who just left The Houstonian) as executive chef.

And in more curious news, we were interested to see a bulldozer and various other construction/demolition equipment outside the miserable old Bartini location on Westheimer. A quick survey of our readers on Twitter produced this lead: We're told that the owner of Boondock's is opening a new bar in that space, tentatively called Royal Oak. We've always thought the old 1940s house near Waugh would make an excellent location for another bar, especially with its view overlooking the Westheimer curve. But that's as much information as we've been able to dig up for now. As soon as we have more, you'll be the first to know.

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