Openings & Closings: Manly Cupcakes and Tiff's Treats

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This week finds two new bakeries coming to town, which couldn't be more different from one another, as well as two extremely interesting pieces of gossip from our ever-reliable sources.

Ranch Bakery (5431 Barker Cypress, Suite 500), which describes itself as "Houston's first manly bakery," is having its grand opening on May 4 in the northwest part of town -- which is apparently starved for cupcakeries that feature testosterone-injected pastries. It's an eerily similar concept to New York's now-closed Butch Bakery, except without cupcake names that sound like gay male porn star aliases.

Ranch Bakery is the brainchild of former construction worker (so manly!) John Homrighausen, who was "fed up with girly cupcakes and boring menus." I was unaware that cupcakes were inherently gender normative, but I was clearly mistaken. Ranch Bakery will also feature manly kolaches, manly stuffed pretzels, manly Ding Dongs (ya rly) and manly pies. I'm assuming all of these manly baked goods are stuffed with jackhammers and sweaty bandannas and old copies of Penthouse, so eat at your own risk.

Meanwhile, Austin import Tiff's Treats (3800 Southwest Freeway, Suite 128) is opening this weekend and offering plenty of special promotions for its first customers. Tiff's will be selling its popular cookies for only $3 a dozen, with all proceeds go to benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation®. The first 10 people in line at 9 a.m. will receive a $100 Tiff's Treats gift card, the next 10 will get a $20 gift card and the next 10 will get a $10 gift card -- so get there early.

Meanwhile in the Heights, farmers market (and catering) favorite Pure Catering will finally have a storefront operation of its own -- sort of. Chef James Ashley is partnering with the newly renamed Boomtown Coffee (242 West 19th Street), which was once known as Heights Ashbury but is now under entirely new ownership.

"Official: Pure Catering has a new Kitchen/home base!" said Ashley on Twitter last week. "Teaming up with the most creative @boomtowncoffee Heights." Ashley also posted plans for the newly redesigned kitchen and noted, "New project provides balance with alternative plating format, cooking techniques and methods. Innovation on the horizon."

In more happy news, BRC Gastropub is the city's newest restaurant to feature a dog-friendly patio. "We wanted to make the patio more cozy for any day of the week, so we added wrought-iron fencing, new tables, chairs, planters along with fun orange umbrellas," said general manager Josh Samples in a press release. The pub will also have disposable water bowls and treats, along with a planned puppy menu from Chef Lance Fegen. BRC joins 18 other Houston establishments that actively welcome (and are licensed to welcome, more importantly) pups on their patios.

Another Austin import aside from Tiff's Treats still has its eye on Houston: J. Black's Feel Good Lounge, which was supposed to open in the old Phil's BBQ space on Washington Avenue. Allison Wollam at the Houston Business Journal reports that J. Black's still plans to head to Houston eventually, but that the City's permitting process is making the move more difficult that anticipated. Imagine that.

Blind items of the week:

It's been everything from La Strada to a failed Tony Vallone venture, and now the building at 322 Westheimer will soon be trying on another identity -- but will this one stick? According to a source, its investors are "shutting down the Westheimer location [of Don Julio's] in two weeks and then after remodeling the old La Strada location, reopening as a high end Mexican steakhouse." You heard it here first.

In far more vexing news, rumors are swirling that Bruce Molzan -- he of unpaid wages at Ruggles and countless restaurant lawsuits -- is close to inking a deal with the owners of the Brownstone Cafe to start up yet another restaurant. A sucker may be born every minute, but Houston apparently has more than its fair share.

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