Restaurant News

Openings & Closings: Two Houston Classics Plan to Expand

The big news this past week was that two Houston classics are about to get even bigger, starting with word from CultureMap that Carrabba's Italian Grill on Kirby -- the original location of the chain -- is set to expand for the first time in 25 years. Carrabba's will be moving out of its old space into a brand-new restaurant right next door, which will be slightly renamed as Carrabba's Johnny IV. But that's not all.

Carrabba's also plans to open two additional restaurants alongside the new Johnny IV: Mia's, which CultureMap calls "a casual, Texas-style approach to the Carrabba's brand," and an upscale Italian restaurant called Grace's. Mia's is set to open first in June, with Johnny IV and Grace's to follow.

Meanwhile, Goode Co. Seafood is also set to expand its original location on Westpark. "[W]e've decided to expand next year," Jim Goode told CultureMap's Marene Gustin. "We're going to add onto the Kirby side, move the entrance over there and increase parking in the area between the seafood and the taqueria restaurants."

In closings news, Swamplot has more information on the death spiral that led Vargo's to close this month. And Albert Nurick at H-Town Chow Down has the sad news that Coal Burger, the experimental burger joint from Grimaldi's in The Woodlands, has shut its doors (although another Grimaldi's looks set to move into the space).

Last but not least, CityCentre in West Houston has proven to be among the most successful and popular of the mixed-use developments built all over Houston in the last few years. But downtown's Houston Pavilions have not, having declared bankruptcy last year after defaulting on a $120.6 million loan. Good news for downtowners, though: The same company who runs CityCentre -- Midway Companies -- has purchased the Pavilions out of receivership. According to Swamplot, the Pavilions are already 66 percent leased, which may mean the turnaround that the development has long needed is finally here.

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Katharine Shilcutt