Restaurant News

Openings & Closings: The Blind Items Gain Vision Edition

Everyone likes to see a good blind item come to fruition. We have two that gained sight this week.

With one of our most recent items, our readers -- as usual -- were spot-on in their guesses. Ocean's, the big white house in Montrose that currently serves subpar seafood, will soon become Concepción with chef Jonathan Jones at the helm. The same ownership will remain in place, under Jorge Alvarez. The restaurant, which means "conception" in Spanish (and was also the name of Alvarez's mother), will feature some of the same modern Mexican and Latin American cooking that Jones featured at Xuco Xicana before his partnership with that restaurant ended. The restaurant hopes to open in May or June.

Meanwhile, another project is finally coming to fruition near the Galleria: The West End (5320 Westheimer), which we first reported on back in January. Allison Wollam at the Houston Business Journal reports Houstonian Pejman "PJ" Jamea is opening the 8,300-square-foot gastropub with his father, and hopes to feature 50 different beers on draft and a comfort food-oriented menu. In addition to the nearly 9,000 square feet of indoor dining space, The West End will also feature an enormous 5,000-square-foot patio -- just in time for summer.

The Burger Guys had a great run during their pop-up lunches with Cafe Luz, and now it's someone else's turn. That someone will be the Sybarite Pig, a "craft beer" and "craft grub" project from talented brewer Daniel Naumko. Naumko, who has been brewing beer at the Kitchen Incubator (the commercial kitchen space behind Cafe Luz), will soon be offering a full menu at the cafe. In keeping with its name ("sybarite" meaning a person who's utterly devoted to luxury and pleasure), the menu will have dishes such as oxtail sancocho with pork belly bollitos and a poached duck egg, and a Mediterranean lamb burger with toasted cumin labne. Follow the Sybarite Pig on Twitter for more information on its opening, which is set for May.

Meanwhile up north, the Trader Joe's in The Woodlands is slated to open on June 8. In related news, avoid The Woodlands if at all possible on this day if you don't want to be caught in the stampede.

Over in the Heights, Adam Dorris -- the young chef who gave us Ghetto Dinner at Grand Prize and who took over for Justin Basye at Stella Sola -- has announced that this is his final month at the Texas-Tuscan restaurant. "Nathan and I will be putting together some special dinners for my final month," Dorris said on Twitter. And one of those dinners is coming up soon: a seven-course beer dinner on April 25, for $75 a person.

In the Rice Village, Felix 55 has closed after a little over half a year. Original chef Michael Kramer departed only a few months after it opened, and the restaurant never quite seemed to catch on with diners in the otherwise busy Village Arcade. The restaurant plans to reopen on May 1 as The Republic.

And in Montrose, Japanese restaurant Toyama has a sign out front indicating that it closed for renovations on April 7. No evidence of renovation work can be seen inside, though, and the building itself was brand-new when Toyama moved in. Could it be that a closure is on its way?

Last but not least -- as we told you last week -- Don Julio's will close on April 22. B4-U-Eat reported in its newsletter this week: "A steak house is to open there mid-summer. Don Julio's is going back to their roots in suburbia -- a Missouri City location, 9009 Sienna Christus, will open next week if all goes as planned."

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Katharine Shilcutt