Openings & Closings: Shepherd on Draft

Anyone who may have mourned the passing of Octane -- the coffee shop-cum-cafe in Garden Oaks -- will be pleased as punch to hear what's taking its place: Shepherd Park Draft House, a "pub/restaurant" which fills as much of a niche as Octane attempted to do. The bar will be located at 3402 N. Shepherd, next to Pink's Pizza, which is no coincidence. Ken Bridge, the owner of Pink's (as well as Lola and Dragon Bowl) will be operating the Draft House. And considering the success of his other projects, the Draft House seems like a sure bet. I wonder what the guys at Petrol Station make of these plans...

Down the street in the Heights proper, D'Amico's Italian Market Cafe is getting ready to hold its grand opening today at 2802 White Oak. The restaurant has been open quietly for a few days now, but the grand opening was slated for when "signage and grand, colorful canopies over a large, pillared patio" had finally been installed. Nash D'Amico, a long-term Houston restaurateur, will operate the new location with his daughter, Brina, in much the same way as the Rice Village location, combining Italian deli and casual restaurant into one.

New in town is Sammy's Wild Game Grill, which the Chronicle's Syd Kearney tried out a few months back before it opened. Much to the chagrin of the Moon Tower Inn men, Sammy's has sampled its wild game hot dog format, albeit without any of Moon Tower's signature atmosphere. On offer at the Washington Avenue restaurant are meats like antelope, ostrich and wild boar.

Over at Eater Houston, Amber Ambrose returned from a press junket at Uchi in Austin with the news that Uchi's Houston location is set to open in early 2012, perhaps as early as January.

Construction is moving swiftly for one of Uchi's Montrose neighbors, too. Last week, Chris Shepherd Tweeted a photo of the electrical work being installed in his upcoming restaurant, Underbelly.

And if you've been wondering what's going into the vacant spot on Kelvin left behind by the Rice Village Antone's, CultureMap has the scoop: Benjy's is expanding, but not for more seating space. Instead, the restaurant is opening its own market, called Local Foods, which it hopes to have up and running next month.

Last but not least, if yesterday's Saigon burger from The Burger Guys whet your appetite but you think it's too far of a drive, we've got good news for you. Owner Jake Mazzu said last week that he's actively scouting for an Inner Loop location. He's looked at 15 different spots so far, none of which have worked out yet. Know of the perfect spot for the second Burger Guys location? Let the man know; we Inner Loopers need our Saigon burgers!

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