Openings and Closings

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Although it technically isn't a closure, it's the end of an era for Voice, the critically-acclaimed restaurant at the Hotel Icon. Chef Michael Kramer is leaving as the hotel has decided to take the restaurant in a different, slightly less upscale direction. It's a huge blow for fine dining downtown, where Voice was considered by many to be the crown jewel.

According to Alison Cook, the restaurant plans a "redecoration party" that will be open to the public. Until that happens, however, Kramer will remain at Voice for at least the next couple of weeks, so take advantage of that time to enjoy one last meal for old time's sake. Much like Philippe Schmit, who left a high-profile position at Bistro Moderne when the Hotel Derek decided to change gears, Kramer hopes to stay in town and has no plans to leave Houston. Lucky us.

Elsewhere, ex-Astros pitcher Brandon Backe continued his streak of bad luck with bars as his signature bar in Dickinson (which just opened in January) was unceremoniously closed last week. Our sister blog, Hair Balls, chronicled the abrupt closure of Brandon Backe's Bullpen on Tuesday, which seems to have had something to do with a nasty incident involving drunk driving and a child.

In cheerier news, we caught up with the owner of BB's Cajun Cafe, which will be opening its second location in downtown this summer. All the cool kids are moving downtown, after all, as places like Phoenicia Specialty Foods, Niko Niko's and Ziggy's Healthy Grill are all aiming to make downtown more residential and less the domain of overpriced steakhouses. (Even if fine dining is taking a beating downtown, at least we'll have our share of excellent fast-casual places to eat, right?)

If you like Glass Wall and the newly-opened BRC Gastropub, we have good news from My Table Magazine. Partners Lance Fegan and Shepard Ross are working on opening yet another restaurant. Details are scarce right now, but My Table reports:

Be on the lookout for Liberty Kitchen opening this summer in The Heights. Same bunch of guys - including Lance Fegen, Carl Eaves and Lee Ellis - but a different concept.

Finally, Les Givral's Kahve on Washington Avenue has opened its doors for business. There is no doubt that the popular Vietnamese restaurant will do well in the restaurant-saturated area; there aren't any other decent Viet places there and the banh mi will hit the spot before a long night of drinking and dancing.

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