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Openings & Closings: Block 7 on the Chopping Block and Birdwell Flies the Coop

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The big news this week was word from Ronnie Killen of Killen's Steakhouse and Ricky Craig of Hubcap Grill that the two are combining their magical meat skills to open CK's Steakhouse in the Heights.

The new steakhouse serves, in a way, to replace the plans that Killen had to open an outpost of his popular Pearland restaurant -- plans that fell through when negotiations with the landlords at the proposed location (the site of the former Bedford and Stella Sola) didn't work out. CK's Steakhouse will be situated close to the Hubcap Grill on 19th Street and, according to Alison Cook at the Chronicle, will offer "more adventurous dishes that don't necessarily play well at the Pearland location."

Meanwhile in the Heights, Ken Bridge has closed his popular Asian fusion restaurant -- Dragon Bowl -- after seven years to make way for a new concept: Witchcraft Tavern and Provision Co.. The "craft" in Witchcraft presumably refers to the craft beers that Bridge plans for the tap lineup (similar to what he's done at Shepherd Park Draught House) as well as a menu of "artisan, craft made sandwiches featuring our very own house made cheeses." Bridge also owns Lola and the Pink's Pizza mini-empire.

What's not quite clear about Witchcraft Tavern and Provision Co is its so-called environment of "an exciting blend of Swag Chic with a comfortable relaxed vibe." I passed a clothing store on Veterans Memorial last weekend called Got Swagg? (with two g's). Will I need to stock up on Swag (with one g) before dining at Witchcraft? Important questions here.

In closures, Block 7 Wine Company has closed after only four short years in business. It was one of the first new-build restaurants to move into the Washington Avenue corridor and was equally lauded for its retail wine shop component (which allowed customers to purchase bottles of wine on premises for a nice discount) as well as its upscale comfort food, like the dry-aged beef burger topped with Gruyère and a smoky bacon relish. (We loved it so much we gave it Best Burger in our 2010 Best of Houston® issue).

Word from my sources is that Block 7's ownership had been in talks to revamp the warehouse-like space, as the retail wine side of the business eventually faltered and closed and the restaurant needed new direction. A big-name chef was hired to redo the menu and re-launch the concept, but sources say that too much lag time left Block 7 in the lurch and the owners finally closed its doors this past week.

In other news along Washington Avenue, chef Tommy Birdwell left TQLA -- this past June -- although I just found out about his departure this week. No word on where Birdwell has landed.

Our friends at B4-U-Eat have the scoop on the brand-new Cafe Pita+ that's opening this weekend, marking the second location of the Bosnian restaurant that's a foodie favorite. "It's not at 5500 Richmond as announced but at 5506 Richmond, formerly Casablanca Couscous and Grill (and no, we don't know when that one closed)," read this week's B4-U-Eat newsletter.

And one more great tidbit of news from B4-U-Eat: Westside favorite Hollister Grill will soon have a location inside the Loop. Owner Chuck Pritchett is opening a second location in the recently-vacated Cova space at 5555 Washington. Look for it to open within the next month or two.


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