Openings & Closings

Two unexpected closings took the city by surprise this week, starting with the unceremonious shuttering of Bailey's American Grille (2320 NASA Parkway) in Seabrook. Although former owner Brad Bailey blamed a poor economy and struggles to recover from Hurricane Ike, he is also in the midst of opening a five-story waterfront restaurant in Kemah despite employees' claims that he hasn't paid them and several lawsuits against him for unpaid debts.

Closer into town, the wonderful Italian restaurant Sabetta Cafe & Wine Bar (2411 S. Shepherd) closed its doors in spite of great reviews and some of the best housemade pasta in Houston. Owner Riccardo Palazzo-Giorgio said that the restaurant simply couldn't overcome the summer slump. In a press release, he said:

Although the response to our food and hospitality was overwhelmingly positive and we were developing a great guest base, we weren't able to overcome the hurdles quickly enough. The reviews we received were incredible and we are thankful for the opportunity to have been able to share our passion for Italian food with Houston, however short that time may have been.

Back down in the Clear Lake area, one of the only other restaurants in Houston to serve kaiseki dinners has also closed: Yan Sushi (548 NASA Road 1).

In openings, it looks like Sugarcane will have a little competition from Fox Hollow (4617 Nett St.) along the Washington Avenue corridor starting soon. Calling itself a "gastro lounge," Fox Hollow plans to serve not only green-centric cocktails in a green environment, but also locally sourced, organic food. Interestingly, the press release points out that the lounge is designed to have a "feminine appeal...made up entirely of purchases from markets and second-hand shops all over the world." Anthropologie meets Hearsay? We shall see during its grand opening on October 6 from 6 to 9 p.m.

If you can't get enough of the sweets at places like Abdallah's and Phoenicia but you find they're too much of a drive if you live in Sugar Land, you're in luck. Baklava Cafe is planned from the same family -- the Elardis -- that ran the popular Sweet Factory on Hillcroft. According to their son, the Elardis will feature the same Lebanese and Greek desserts that made the Sweet Factory so popular, as well as a selection of French pastries, too. The opening is planned for later this month.

On the other hand, if you're trying to cut out the sweets, a new healthy prepared meals joint has quietly opened at Richmond and Kirby, next to the Dessert Gallery and Kata Robata. Snap Kitchen (3600 Kirby), like Smart Meals or Fit Foods, offers a rotating selection of pre-made, ready-to-eat dishes that you can take to-go. Snap's in-house registered dietitian and chef ensure that the meals are both nutritious and delicious (yes, I just pulled that old chestnut out of my bag). Meals and snacks range from $3 to $13 and are available for gluten-free diets, vegetarians, diabetics and even people on something called the "paleo diet." I kind of don't want to know what that is. Right now, the restaurant is offering a 25 percent discount on all their food until Sunday, September 19, leading up to its grand opening.

And in perhaps the strangest news this year, rumblings are coming from reliable sources that Numbers (314 Westheimer) -- recently put up for lease -- is being eyed by the Pappas family. Yes, that Pappas family. But wait -- it gets weirder. The rumors also indicate that they plan to open either a chicken and rice or shrimp and rice joint in the spot where so many...unsavory...activities have taken place over the years. If the rumors prove to be true, would you eat at Numbers' Chicken & Rice?

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