Openings & Closings: Dry Creek Shutters, Hello Sozo Sushi

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Sozo Sushi & Lounge, 1700 Post Oak, suite 250, held its grand opening on August 29. The Houston Press first heard about Sozo from CultureMap Houston back in December of 2014. The trendy sushi restaurant is located at BLVD Place above True Food Kitchen. The concept came from owners of Shogun Grill and unlike that restaurant which serves hibachi-style dining, Sozo is more focused on sushi and providing a comfortably chic elegant space for socializing. Early reviews rave about fresh sushi, $2 specials and one Yelper described her experience as "Tokyo meets Paris."

On August 31, Dry Creek Cafe, 544 Yale, posted on its Facebook page that it was closing for remodeling. A reader's comment included a link to an article in the Houston Business Journal about "powerhouses, Bobby Heugel and Justin Yu, opening a new concept in the Heights. According to a press release, Heugel (of Pastry War, Bar Anvil and Underbelly, to name a few) and James Beard Award recipient, Yu (Oxheart) are joining forces to bring a new dining option to the Heights. Plans are to open a "comfortable neighborhood space" with service in early 2017.

Pappas Meat Co. at 12010 East Freeway served its final meal on September 5. Eric Sandler of CultureMap was there for the last service on Monday evening, noting the sadness in the room as customers were notified of the closing. His article included a statement from Director of Marketing Christina Pappas about the restaurant's employees: "We are happy to say that each Team Member has been offered their same position at one of several other Pappas Restaurants in the area." She added that, "with two more restaurants opening soon in Houston, as well as one each in San Antonio and Austin, we're excited about the opportunities that will be available for all of our Team Members in the months to come." 

One of those new opportunities in Houston will be at Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen, the latest restaurant to be added to the Avenida Houston dining hub centered around Discovery Green and the Convention Center.  At 9,000-square-feet, it is the largest restaurant to join Avenida Houston. The Houston Chronicle reported that the restaurant is slated to open in January 2017. This new dining hub is projected to be completed just in time for the Super Bowl. Other restaurants within the space include: Xochi, Biggio's, Cueva and Texas T, B&B, High Dive, Kulture, Bud's Pitmaster BBQ, Grotto Downtown and McAlister's Deli.

Richard Sandoval Restaurants (RSR) Group will open Bayou & Bottle in January 2017 inside downtown's Four Seasons Hotel, 1300 Lamar. According to a press release, the lobby bar is a "critical component of the massive multi-million dollar renovation" of the luxury hotel. RSR has successfully launched more than 40 restaurants around the world; this will be the first restaurant in Texas for chef Sandoval who is known for working with Latin and Asian flavors.The bar will feature "vintage bar wear, exquisite whiskey flights, vibrant classic artwork, and over seventy varieties of bourbon,"according to a statement.

California-based, fast casual chain, The Melt is heading to Houston in a big, "cheesy" way. According to the website, it features menu items such as the "Mac Daddy" and "Italian Job" and uses 100 percent all-natural beef in its burgers, real-aged cheeses, freshly baked artisan bread and hand-craft fountain sodas. In a conversation with Sandler of CultureMap, CEO Ralph Bower reveals that "the first location will open in Baybrook Mall in November, with three more to follow in Houston by the end of the year."

Tucked in the back of Avenu Fitness is a hidden java gem, Avenu Coffee at 6211 Edloe. Owner Brent Gallagher told the Press that they expanded the coffee stand inside their boutique gym because of its popularity among West University neighborhood coffee drinkers. The shop currently offers Boomtown brews. Hours are 5:30 a.m. to noon, Monday through Saturday.

Another dessert shop is coming to Houston. HBJ reported that Pop Brands Houston LLC, owned by local residents Vilash Reddy and Bharat and Vanitha Pothuri, signed a ten-unit franchise agreement with the New York based Popbar. It will offer gluten-free, vegan and lactose-free options of gelato, sorbetto and yogurt on sticks. No specific information is known about where these ten locations will pop up, but plans are to open the first store in early 2017.

Included in this week's round-up are highlights based on an eagle-eyed reader's tips about Houston area openings and closings from August. 

Pearland fans of Class 502's Thai-style rolled ice cream can get their fix at Chop Ice Cream , 11200 Broadway, suite 1050, which opened on August 27. A manager at the store says that the current best sellers are "berry madness" and the "cookie monster."

A Korean restaurant, Han Kook Kwan, 9140 Bellaire, suite B, recently opened up where the popular Vietnamese Bodard Bistro used to stand in Diho Plaza. 

Ocean Boulevard, a casual waterfront restaurant opened at 1200 Marina in Montgomery. Their menu features fresh seafood, steaks and chops.

The Original Neal’s Restaurant reopened under new management and owners on August 9 at 4750 FM 2920 Road, suite 12, in Spring. The Press called to find out the story behind the "Original" part of the name. Kitchen Manager Hector Grimaldo explained that when reopening, they wanted to take customers back seven years, when the menu was different and more popular with patrons. He added that some original recipes, including their more popular items, chicken-fried steak and pork steak are on the menu. Opening hours are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturdays and closed on Sundays.

On August 22, Martha’s Mexican Grill, 2611 FM 1463, suite 400 opened in Katy. An employee says they are most proud of their home-made tamales. Other favorites include the torta cubana, cochinita pibil and enchiladas.

Teriyaki House opened on August 21 at 6340 North Eldridge Parkway, suite H. It is a Japanese restaurant featuring teriyaki bowls and bento plates. A manager told the Press that they do not serve sushi, but the menu does include other common Japanese fare like edamame, ramen and udon noodles.

There is a new option for Thai food in the tunnels downtown; Time For Thai opened in late July in the former Prince's spot at 930 Main under the McKinney Place Garage.

That's it for this week's restaurant openings and closings. Do you know of something we missed? Leave us a comment or send us an email to tell us about it.

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