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Openings and Closings: Market Square Edition

By now, most Houstonians have heard of the efforts to once again revitalize downtown's Market Square. The city block, which is bounded by Travis, Milam, Congress and Preston, has long been a park but has also long been ignored, despite many past efforts to revive it to its former glory.

Plans for the new Market Square Park were on display at a much-ballyhooed groundbreaking ceremony on December 15. The park's new design and footprint are entirely different from what currently exists -- a few mosaic-decorated concrete benches and some greenery -- and seem to be on par with Discovery Green, if on a smaller scale.

One of the most important factors in the park's success will be the restaurants that are planning on opening along Market Square. Currently, Les Givral's Kahve on Congress, Voice on Main and the brand new Byrd's Market on Main at Prairie are the strongest restaurants in the area. But they'll soon be getting company in the form of two new outposts of popular Houston restaurants and two brand-new restaurants from a familiar name.

Popular Greek diner Niko Niko's is planning on opening its first-ever sister restaurant in the park itself. The restaurant is anticipated to have outdoor seating and will be a smaller version of the perpetually busy diner on Montrose.

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Also planned for a few short blocks away is a downtown outpost of Ziggy's Healthy Grill at Main and Capitol. The restaurant will occupy the ground floor of the Great Jones Building and will be open seven days a week for breakfast/brunch, lunch and dinner. Ziggy's plans to open at the end of January 2010 if all goes well.

Back over at Market Square Park itself, a very reliable little birdie tells us that the Les Givral's folks are opening two more restaurants along Congress: ERA and Convey. A call to Les Givral's confirmed this, although not much more is known about the restaurants at this time.

Market Square Park is expected to be finished by the middle of next year. Will more restaurants follow the trail of new development? Downtown is certainly hoping so.

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