Restaurant News

Openings & Closings

In the long tradition of delivering the bad news first, we're starting off this week's restaurant news roundup with a couple of closings.

Heights West, whose owner and chef we profiled over a series of Chef Chats back in March, closed over the weekend. What's next for the former auto garage at 2307 West Ella? Reliable sources say a tequila bar will be opening in its space. We're still waiting to see if that turns out to be true or not, however.

And over in Montrose, the new era of restaurant gentrification continues (just to be clear, the precursor era was when the Mark's American Cuisines and Da Marcos of the city first moved in during the '90s): CoCo's Yakitori closed last week. And while we're sad to see Mami go, at least there's some cheerful news cropping up across the street, where a cadre of young artists have repainted the mural on the side of Mary's just in time for the Pride Parade tomorrow.

Not quite an opening, but exciting news nevertheless, comes from the Whole Foods on Kirby this week -- not the brand new one on Waugh. The old Kirby location is getting its own wine and beer draft system and will soon be selling growlers of its own. It won't have a dedicated bar like the one on Waugh, but it will have a dozen different wines and beers on tap. And yes, they'll be available by the glass too.

In openings, look for a couple of new places to wet your whistle soon (tell me that isn't the most compellingly anachronistic phrase; I can't help using it).

One is the upcoming Grove Park Lounge, from the same owners of Chatters. Chatters must be doing well for itself lately -- and bravo to them -- as the restaurant also recently expanded into the Energy Corridor with its second location. Grove Park Lounge's website indicates that it will be a "relaxing oasis for an afternoon or late evening cocktail, wine, or beer." Sound good? They're also currently accepting applications for bartenders.

As mentioned in this week's roundup of local food blogs and publications, Scott Gertner is investing in the Houston Pavilions as his next great space after the demise of Skybar. He tells Downtown that his new place, appropriately called Scott Gertner's, will be a bi-level restaurant and bar with a fourth-floor, open-air rooftop that should have killer views of downtown. He plans to have a nightly tapas-style menu starting at 5:30 p.m., and word on the street is that he's actively looking for a young, talented chef to head up his kitchen.

But at least one young, talented chef has been snapped up off the market: Jean Philippe Gaston, whom many will remember from Kata Robata, has moved just up the street to Haven, where Chef Randy Evans has hired him as a sous. Congratulations all around.

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Katharine Shilcutt