Restaurant News

Openings & Closings: Expansions and Transformations

Ever since the planned second location for Killen's Steakhouse in the Heights fell through, Ronnie Killen has been keeping busy back home in Pearland. There, he's currently in the process of transforming his popular steakhouse into Killen's BBB.

Writing for CultureMap, Ruthie Johnson Miller says the new Killen's BBB (which stands for barbecue, burgers and beer) will "offer things like brisket, ribs, sausage, barbecued chicken, potato salad, and beans."

The switch isn't yet complete though -- the barbecue side of the menu isn't available to the public at this time -- and the full changeover could take a while. Says J.C. Reid at 29-95: "The plan is to move Killen's Steakhouse to a larger location nearby in Pearland, and the current location will become Killen's BBB. However, no leases have been signed and for now Chef Killen is happy to tow his new Klose pit around the state to barbecue competitions where he can perfect his technique."

In the old Zimm's Little Deck space, another transformation is taking place: Shepard Ross of BRC Gastropub and Glass Wall has been hard at work since July changing it into Brooklyn Athletic Club. Yesterday, Ross posted a photo of the new Brooklyn Athletic Club sign to his Facebook wall -- a sign that that watering hole could be opening soon. In response to friends asking him to open up already, Ross simply said: "Workin' hard towards it, trust me!"

And downtown, another closed restaurant will likely be revamped very soon: The Strip House, which closed in July, is rumored to be the new location of a Pappas Bros. Steakhouse. The exceptionally upscale steakhouse -- one of the city's best -- would be an ideal fit for downtown, but it would also give its equals like Vic & Anthony's a run for their money.

Also downtown, another restaurant was -- like The Strip House -- recently locked out for non-payment of rent. Yao Restaurant and Bar, the Chinese restaurant that opened in February 2010, has closed. The Westheimer location in Westchase remains open. According to the Houston Business Journal, retired Houston Rocket Yao Ming "loaned his name to the business but did not own any shares."

In other closings, Swamplot reported the remarkable news that a Smashburger actually closed. The burger chain has seemed to multiply like a warren of rabbits, but the Westchase location on Westheimer near Beltway 8 was one of "the chain's worst-performing" stores. The empty spot has already been leased to a Dunkin Donuts, so rejoice, you west Houston donut fans.

Also in expansions, the Houston Business Journal has reported that Peter Piper Pizza is moving into the Houston market, opening 25 pizza joints throughout the greater metro area. The first location will be at 6223 E. Sam Houston Parkway North on Beltway 8 at Wallisville Road.

Pappa Geno's has finally opened its second location, this one in Bellaire at Bellaire Boulevard and Mapleridge.

And although it seems as though its second location (in the Heights) was just announced, Torchy's Tacos has already announced its third location too. Says B4-U-Eat in its weekly newsletter: "...they've signed the lease on their third location, 2400 Times Blvd. Well, they told us they would open 15 of them here."

In a final bit of good news, Houston has another empanada shop -- this one in Jersey Village. Yummy Mpanadas just celebrated its grand opening and is now serving a full menu of everything from breakfast empanadas to dessert crepes.

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Katharine Shilcutt