The sudden, dramatic closure of every 59 Diner location in Houston this week became even more controversial after the Houston Press's Phaedra Cook reported that owner Naveed Baig and his company have an impressive slate of financial and legal obligations that he's let slide. The totals are more than $200,000 in an unpaid settlement with a group of employees whose wages were underpaid, close to $137,000 owed to restaurant supply company Sysco, a claim against the company for $2,600 in back taxes and a pending sexual harassment case against Baig.
Katy's location of iconic eatery D'Amico's Italian Market Café, 2463 Commercial Center in LaCenterra, is now closed. Fear not, fans of the Rice Village location at 5510 Morningside; it will be business as usual for that location. Katy's D'Amico's will soon be replaced by Restless Palate, a "fresh, local and health-focused restaurant... with a vibrant, casual and very social environment," according to the concept's Craigslist call for applications.
Popular Tex-Mex eatery Tejas Restaurant, 12219 Alief Clodine, has closed after 23 years in business because, according to the restaurant, it was time for the owner to embrace retirement.
Another Tex-Mex restaurant, Don Patron Bar & Grill at 500 Dallas, also bit the dust this week owing to renovations in Allen Center and, although a spokesperson for the company that manages Allen Center said that a new eatery will be put into the building after the renovations are complete, it doesn't sound like that restaurant will be Don Patron.
While nothing can replace the loss of a favorite restaurant, we do have a few pieces of good news for fans of Tex-Mex cuisine:
There's a new Skinny Rita's Cantina open at 607 West Gray, which offers Tex-Mex favorites with a healthier twist, such as using naturally raised, antibiotic-free meat and tortillas made from cactus flour, which is gluten-free and has more fiber than standard flour. Of course, Skinny Rita's also features a variety of margaritas made from organic tequilas and free of artificial colors and flavors.
The latest addition to the El Tiempo Cantina empire is now open at 21810 Kingsland in Katy, and another location is coming soon to 12440 Northwest Freeway. The Katy location has a large patio in the back, as well as a bar patio in the front. Owner Domenic Laurenzo says the structure couldn't support a traditional tiled roof, so they faked it with look-alike orange tin.
State of Grace, 3258 Westheimer, is now serving Sunday brunch from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. with offerings like crawfish enchiladas with a fried egg and chicken fried chicken with eggs and a biscuit.
A reader tip tells us that popular food truck Gyro King is opening its first brick-and-mortar location this weekend at 9203 Highway 6 South. The menu is "authentic New York City halal," with offerings like chicken over rice, falafel, gyros and a variety of juices.
Shade, 250 West 19th in The Heights, is now serving a weekday breakfast from 6:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. daily, with great to-go offerings like coffee and pastries, plus heavier fare, like avocado grilled toast with charred kale, corn and soft-boiled egg.
Craft coffee and frozen yogurt haven Tree House is now in the midst of its soft opening at 14008 Memorial. Is it too much to hope that there will be coffee-infused fro-yo there? We hope it isn't.
Live Sports Bar at 405 Main has been resurrected under new management after about seven years of an extended time-out. The bar originally thought that its renovations would be a matter of months, but apparently these things take time, especially considering that Swamplot reported on the new Live bar back in June of 2014.
Fast-food Mexican pizza chain Pizza Patrón has announced plans to open 60 new restaurants in the Houston area over the next five years, according to RestaurantNews.com. The eatery accepts Mexican pesos as legal tender at all of its locations, but the menu is probably very similar to the one at your favorite pizza delivery place, although Pizza Patrón also has churros.
Finally, there's a new Pollo Bravo at 10085 Long Point, just across I-10 from CityCentre. The Peruvian-Mexican chain is based here in Houston and specializes in rotisserie chicken.
Those are all of this week's restaurant openings and closings in Houston! If you know of something we missed, leave us a comment or send us an email and let us know.
Now, it's time for our list of the previous month's openings and closings. Here's everything you might've missed from February's restaurant openings and closings:
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Banh Somtum, 13420 Highway 249
Bao's Cafe, 3530 Rayford
The Blue Fish, 1900 Hughes Landing
Boots 'n Shoots, 506 Main
Borgo Food Station, 3641 West Alabama
Brick House Tavern + Tap, 19740 Southwest Freeway
Campesino Coffee House, 2602 Waugh
Chikin, 5700 Highway 6
Chychos Tacos Pollo al Carbon, 3835 FM 2910
Craft Grill, 25219 Kuykendahl
Dearhouse, 10032 Long Point
The Decked-Out Donut, 22625 Highway 249
El Canton Firewood Pizza, 981 South Mason
El Guajillo, food truck
El Pollo Loco, 5309 South Rice
El Topo, food truck
Elevation Burger, 6825 South Fry
Grimaldi's, 1318 Baybrook
The Grove Donut Truck, food truck
Harborside Mercantile, 2021 The Strand in Galveston
Howie's Tiki, 4334 FM 2920
Larry and Laney's Soul Food, 15015 Westheimer
Little Liberty, 2365 Rice
Luchi & Joey's, 14005 Memorial
Luisa's Pasta, 1200 McKinney
Mama Fu's Asian House, 13621 Skinner
The Middle Spoon, 15911 City Walk
Mo's Irish Pub, 14102 Mueschke
Nam Eatery, 502 East 20th
Nam Mi, 7006 Spencer Highway
Newk's Eatery, 2712 Eldridge
Paradise Donut, 12315 Westheimer
Republic Roots, 18721 University in Sugar Land
Revolucion Coffee + Juice, 1321 West 11th
Rice & Curry Cuisine, 712 7th in Galveston
Rico's Mexican Grill, 25250 Northwest Freeway
Rossini Caffé Italiano, 2229 San Felipe
Sparkle's Hamburger Spot, 5510 Hirsch
Strings Noodle, 9889 Bellaire
Suya Hut, 11720 West Airport Boulevard
The Teahouse Tapioca & Tea, 5315 Cypress Creek Parkway
Torchy's Tacos, 4747 Research Forest
VertsKebap, 8552 North Highway 6
Bourbon on Bagby, 2708 Bagby
Brooks Family BBQ, 3602 Scott
Celtic Gardens, 2300 Louisiana
Cook & Collins, 2416 Brazos (Spare Key remains open)
Daddyo's Pizza, 5009 Antoine (temporary)
La Chef Empanadas Argentinas, 5200 FM 2920
Tarakaan, 2301 Main (suspending food service, still open as a lounge)
Thu-Thu Restaurant, 5015 Antoine
Uncle Wankie's, 4660 Louetta
Paul's Kitchen, 2502 Algerian, became The Merrill House
Piqueo, 13215 Grant, became 429 American Grille
We'd like to give a special shoutout to Jakeisha of Chic Chick Chic Eats for giving us some tips for our monthly round-up list.