Restaurant News

Openings & Closings: April 2011

After a quiet few weeks, a rash of openings, delays and unexpected closings tore through the city this past week, starting with the news that Austin's "sexy Tex-Mex" import Vivo is not coming to San Felipe after all. Despite already having its shingle hung on the newly remodeled strip center between the Galleria and River Oaks, a falling out between owner Roger Diaz and the landlord, Melcher Investments, has led to a permanent split. Diaz and chef Paul Petersen are still very interested in opening a second Vivo in Houston and are actively scouting a new location as well as new investors.

Meanwhile, a few old favorites and a few newcomers closed their doors throughout Houston. King Biscuit Patio Cafe, which had served Heights hippie food since 1982, abruptly closed over the weekend. And as soon as word hit the street of its closure, so did news of its new owner, Sarah Fitzgerald, the same Sarah Fitzgerald of Fitzgerald's. All we know at this point is that Fitzgerald has big plans and a completely new direction for the old restaurant, and we're excited to see what comes of it.

Out on the west side, The Burger Guys and Sapori lost neighbor Edomae Sushi, which closed over the weekend as well. And the Heights lost its newest (and arguably least successful) barbecue joint when Phil's Texas BBQ closed for good on April 26.

And in even more surprising news, the newest concept from the El Tiempo family -- Chispas del Tiempo -- closed abruptly last Wednesday. The barbecue/Tex-Mex fast-casual cafe across from Teotihuacan in the Heights just opened in April, but the concept didn't quite take off, and El Tiempo decided to cut its losses early on.

In brighter news, Brasserie 19, the new French bistro-meets-Gulf Coast concept from Charles Clark and Grant Cooper, opened this past Wednesday. CultureMap's Shelby Hodge went to the preview party and approved of the brasserie's large white marble bar and the unusually low wine prices. We weren't invited to the River Oaks soirée, but we also don't dress as nice as Shelby or the Chron's wine writer, Dale Robertson.

And in even happier news, the folks behind Sushi King have opened Keeper's Japanese in Sugar Land, with -- you guessed it -- sushi king himself Keeper Lin at the helm. There's never been a better reason to brave Highway 59. (Not to mention it goes a long way toward making up for losing Edomae Sushi.)

Last but not least, Arturo Boada Cuisine attempted to open quietly over the weekend but was slammed for its soft opening on Saturday night regardless. We think that's probably a good sign for Chef Boada, who -- as you'll remember -- recently left Arturo's Uptown Italiano and proceeded to file a lawsuit against his former employer.

On the following page, a wrap up of all the openings and closings that took place in April 2011.

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Katharine Shilcutt