Openings & Closings: New Concepts Serve Customers From Dawn to Dark

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Even during the holidays, Houston's flurry of restaurant activity never stops. If anything, things have picked up over the past two weeks. Hold on tight as we look at a slew of openings, closings and a few name changes, too.

We had not one, but two early looks at on some new and interesting concepts that aim to take care of customers from dawn to dusk.

Weights + Measures (2808 Caroline) is doing a beta test run of the bar area starting the evening of Sunday, December 28. There's no specific time set, but co-owner Mike Sammons says that when the neon sign facing Caroline Street is lit, the place is officially open. That will happen right around sundown.

That means you can go in and order drinks and bar snacks, but do expect some of the bobbles typical of any place still in the preliminary stage of opening. Sammons and his business partner Ian Rosenberg hope to have the restaurant, espresso bar and a Slow Dough storefront area (a first for this Houston bakery) ready to open sometime in mid-January.

We got an early look at Weights +Measures this past Monday and it's a happy, fun, comfortable place full of affectionate salutes to 1970s kitsch. There are bi-level, fake wood laminate end tables that could have come out of your grandmother's living room, a cute little espresso bar area, clever nods to the era (like a wall covered in a shiny, dark orange shag carpet) and antique scales used as décor everywhere. There are impressive professional ovens and a huge mixer for the Slow Dough side of the operation. Look for an in-depth look once the food and beverage service gets into full swing.

Another brand new day-to-night concept is already in full swing. This one is Woodbar (3939 Montrose). It's next door to longtime Houston chef Claire Smith's Canopy restaurant. The two are connected by a hallway, so guests can start at Woodbar and make their way to Canopy for lunch or dinner if they want to. They don't have to, though. Woodbar has its own food program, overseen by executive chef Elizabeth Brooks. In the morning, Woodbar has a spread of pastries and bread, then transitions to a bar menu for lunch and dinner. We'll have a closer look at Woodbar's food and cocktails offerings in the next day or so.

Katch 22 (700 Durham), the restaurant endeavor of Kory Clemens, son of former Houston Astro Roger Clemens, has closed. A statement says, "Negotiations with our landlord have not yielded the resolution we had hoped for and, quite frankly, needed to continue operations at this location." The press release goes on to say that the restaurant is seeking an alternative location.

As reported earlier this week, you have just a few days left to grab a group and head to La Casa Del Caballo for one last taste of that succulent, four-pound rib eye cap or the tasty enchiladas. El Tiempo is taking over the space on January 1, which answers the question of what happens when El Tiempo 1308 Cantina is forced to close the first quarter of next year. Will it survive where La Strada, Café Bello, Don Julio and now La Casa Del Caballo all failed? We're betting "yes," thanks to the long-established Montrose customer base that already supports 1308 Cantina.

F.E.E.D. TX, the group behind BRC Gastropub, Liberty Kitchen and Liberty Kitchen & Oysterette, is continuing their breakneck pace of expansion. They announced this past Monday that they are setting up Liberty Kitchen @ The Treehouse in the MetroNational building at 963 Bunker Hill. It's the same space that Jonathan's The Rub was originally going to move into and then changed their minds about.

This announcement follows the recent news that F.E.E.D. TX took over operations at El Cantina Superior and are soon opening a fried chicken place in the Heights in the former Church's Fried Chicken located across the street from Revival Market.

The second Il Mazcalzone location in Houston (1500 Shepherd) still doesn't have a firm opening date, but an anonymous tipster let us know who the executive chef is. (Thank you, Anonymous Tipster!)

It's a chef who is well-known in Houston and has been flying under the radar for the past several months. Alberto Baffoni, known for Italian restaurants Simposio, Sappori and, more recently, Mezzanotte, will be in the kitchen. The restaurant's namesake dish is a half-calzone/half-pizza invented by the owner, former Italian Olympic boxer Andrea Magi. You can see a photo of it at the Houston Chronicle web site.

Not a closing, but a rebranding: Mission Burrito is now Überrito. The chain was forced by a judge to change its name after it was deemed to have infringed upon the line of Mission prepackaged Mexican foods.

Its signature item? A four-pound burrito made with two, 14-inch tortillas. There are four locations: 2245 W. Alabama, 1609 Durham, 7025 FM 1960 East in Humble and 23501 Cinco Ranch in Katy.

Roegel's Barbeque posted a photo of its new sign at 2223 S. Voss and you can check it out in all its glory at the Eater Houston web site.

The owner left the Baker's Ribs franchise and is venturing forth under his own name. Read more about the changeover and the food offerings in this Houston Chronicle article.

Remember when we told you Sorrel Urban Bistro was closing so that Kenny & Ziggy's owner Ziggy Gruber could open a place called Dubrow's New York Grill? Well, Sorrel is still closing, but it looks like the landlord hasn't been able to make a deal to transfer the lease with Gruber. Sorrel's owner Ray Salti is now looking at opening a concept called Bollo Wood Fired Pizza, an interesting idea since he also owns the Pepperoni's pizza chain. Read the other details over at Culturemap Houston, which originally broke the story. Don't forget: you still have just a few last days to check out Sorrel before it's gone for good on January 1.

Culturemap also has the lowdown on three more restaurants opening at BLVD Place (1800 Post Oak) near True Food Kitchen, thus making it a big dining hub. Upscale Sozo Sushi joins the previously-announced Peska Seafood Culture and Italian restaurant, North, which is owned by the True Food Kitchen folks.

The Houston Chronicle noted that neighborhood favorite Capri Pasta in The Woodlands is closing, citing traffic-hampering construction in the area as being the main issue.

Simone on Sunset closed earlier this month on December 9. Culturemap Houston reported that it's due to a tenant-landlord dispute. The tenant was locked out for non-payment of rent, but claims the landlord used a dispute between her and her business partners as an excuse for eviction.

Whew. That's it for this month and, in fact, for this year! We'll see you in 2015 with an all-new Openings & Closings!

Head to the next page for the list of all the openings and closings we reported on in December 2014.

December 2014 Openings

Davis Street at Hermann Park, 5925 Almeda Road Spanky's Pizza, 4659 Telephone Houston Food Park, 1311 Leeland Shrimp N Stuff, 2228 Mechanic, Galveston Pie 5 Pizza, 21460 Kuykendahl, Spring Gino's East, 25657 I-45 N., The Woodlands Urban Eats, 3414 Washington Christian's Tailgate, 1010 Hwy. 6 N. Tea Bar & Organics, 5857 Westheimer El Cantina Superior (reopened under new management), 602 Studewood Ladybird's, 5519 Allen Japon Cafe, 2012 Rusk Dak & Bop, 1801 Binz Russo's NY Pizzeria, 8236 Kirby Woodbar, 3939 Montrose Überrito (formerly Mission Burrito), four locations: 2245 W. Alabama, 1609 Durham, 7025 FM 1960 East in Humble and 23501 Cinco Ranch Roegel's Barbeque (formerly Baker's Ribs), 2223 S. Voss

December 2014 Closings Cafe Japon, 3915 Kirby La Casa Del Caballo, 322 Westheimer Sorrel Urban Bistro, 2202 W. Alabama Simone on Sunset, 2418 Sunset Capri Pasta, 25602 Interstate 45 North Katch 22, 700 Durham

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