Openings & Closings

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First things first, for anyone who might be heading out to Skewers (3991 Richmond, 713-599-1444) for its grand reopening: Don't. At least, not yet. The restaurant's PR team emailed us an explanation for the delay this week:

Skewers is not going to make its opening this Saturday. Got the word late Tuesday that things might be going awry and then Hadi called me yesterday morning to say there was no way the city would get its inspectors in until next week, especially with all the focus being turned to the weather.

This is a huge disappointment to all of us, but we are certain the time until we welcome you back to the restaurant is getting shorter all the time. Your patience and support has been the strength that is getting through all of this. So please, mark your calendars for Saturday, Feb. 19. It will be a celebration to remember.

In happier news, there was a rash of openings this week, starting with the much-awaited Ava Kitchen & Whiskey Bar (2800 Kirby, 713-386-6460) from longtime restaurateurs Robert Del Grande and Lonnie Schiller. One of the several high-end restaurants that will eventually fill up the West Ave project on Kirby, Ava opened on Monday of this week serving a mix of Mediterranean and Continental fare. This isn't the departure from the Schiller-Del Grande Group's original plan to open two separate but connected restaurants -- Ava Brasserie on one floor and Alto Pizzeria above -- that it might sound like. According to its website, Alto is still to come.

Over in West Houston, Memorial City Mall finally saw the completion of an equally long-awaited Cheesecake Factory (600 Memorial City Way, 713-932-6344). The restaurant went into a space that sat uncompleted for years; a skybridge to nowhere connected the vacant spot to the Memorial Hermann hospital complex across Gessner. The two-story restaurant is located partially above the ice rink and next to California Pizza Kitchen and Panera Bread, creating a second food court at the west end of the mall.

Up the street, Memorial City Mall's outdoor competition is getting the city's third Tasting Room location, as we discussed with Chef Michael Kramer last week, which should open at the end of this month. A combined 13,500 square feet -- 6,500 of that patio space -- makes it the largest Tasting Room, which dovetails nicely with another accomplishment: an 80-foot long bar that will be the longest in the city. An Enoteca wine system is also being installed, allowing the Tasting Room to serve 16 different wines on tap at once. And you know how we feel about wine on tap around here.

In other openings, League City has a new Cajun joint with Little Daddy's Gumbo Bar (1615 FM 646, 281-524-8626), and although initial reviews are mixed, the place is brand-new. Go easy on 'em, League City. If you don't, this could happen...

Three separate Cajun places went to that big Crescent City in the sky this past week:, Cajun Shack (2500 Marina Bay Drive, League City), Cajun Tails (11037 FM 1960 West) and Swampy's Cajun Shack (406 Grand Parkway, Suite 400, Katy). Do I hear the faint sounds of "Just A Closer Walk With Thee?" playing in the distance?

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