Openings & Closings: Welcome to Houston, AGU!

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Two of the three planned AGU ramen noodle houses open this month. According to its website, the store at 1809 Eldridge Parkway South opens today, November 11 in Village Plaza. Following on its heels, the second ramen bistro will open at 9310 Westheimer on November 15. The third location at 7340 Washington (site of the former Christian’s Tailgate) will open next month on December 15.

In an exclusive video interview with local ramen guru, Carl Rosa, the owner of AGU, Hisashi Uehara explained that the key elements to his ramen is passion and patience. “Everything is made from scratch and takes forever,” he said. For instance, “the soup takes 22 hours, the chicken broth takes 8 hours and the char siu takes 18 hours,” he added. Rosa told the Houston Press that Uehara plans to offer only a limited menu at the Eldridge opening.

Operating hours differ for each location. In Village Plaza, hours are 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily, the Westheimer store will be open 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. daily and the Washington location will be open 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. daily.

Swamplot reported that a couple of new businesses are moving into downtown spaces near the Bayou Lofts. The Brit is coming to 911 Franklin, formerly home of the long, narrow bar, Pi Lounge and Craft Beer Cellar, a shop selling retail brews and teaching beer education is opening next door at 907 Franklin. An October 24 Facebook post said that the sign is up and construction appears to be coming along smoothly at the beer shop. There is no information about an opening date for The Brit.

On November 18, the Américas at 21 Waterway Avenue in the Woodlands will become the sixth Churrascos in the Houston area, leaving only one Americas in River Oaks. According to a press release, the Cordúa Restaurant Group decided to change the concept because the Churrascos brand was more recognizable than Américas. "Guests familiar with Américas will recognize some of the Churrascos menu items like our award-winning chimichurri-basted Churrasco steak and the original tres leches dessert," said Executive Chef David Cordúa. Look for several new items on the menu including pressed Cuban sandwiches and pork albondigas (meatballs).

Future plans include another store to open in 2017 near Baybrook Mall at Interstate 45 and Bay Area Boulevard.

The Melt opens at The Lawn at Baybrook Mall on November 21. Under the helm of newly-named CEO Ralph Bower, the San Francisco-based chain has plans to open three additional stores by the end of 2017. According to Food & Beverage Magazine, Bower has held leadership positions with a variety of brands including Pei Wei, Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, Yum! Brands, Inc., KFC Corporation and Domino’s Pizza and he looks forward to “growing The Melt into a national presence.”

Eater Houston reported that a second location should open in Vintage Park by Spring 2017. There are sneak peek opportunities on November 18 between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. and November 19 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. which will benefit two Houston charities.

Union Kitchen is expanding again. A fifth location is slated to open at 920 Westcott Street inside Elan Memorial Park. Gr8 Plate Hospitality announced via press release that the restaurant will call the ground floor of the luxury apartment complex home by late summer or early fall 2017. In the statement, owner Paul Miller said he chose this location because he has seen the transformation of this area over the years and is thrilled to be a part of this Houston neighborhood.

According to a press release, Hot Toppings Pizza is opening a second location in the downtown tunnels at 919 Milam. Remodeling has already begun and doors should open in early 2017. The build-it-yourself, fast-fired in less-than-three-minutes pizza joint made its debut just a year ago at 7705 Westheimer near the Galleria area.

Cleburne Cafeteria owner George Mickelis told the Houston Business Journal that he expects to reopen in March 2017. After the fire in April, the restaurant at 3606 Bissonnet has plans for many renovations including the addition of more space for a bigger kitchen, outdoor patio and private dining room. Other changes will include a refreshed menu to include items that may appeal to younger diners.

The Halal Guys are ready to open at 10111 Louetta in Vintage Marketplace. The grand opening event is scheduled for November 19 from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. According to its Instagram post, they will have free gifts for the first 1000 [customers] in line! Gifts will be scratchers, T-shirts, and sunglasses and five grand prize winners will receive a month of free food from The Halal Guys. Over 1400 guests have already RSVP’d for the event on Facebook.

Houston is getting a Viking themed restaurant at 403 West Gray, the site of former Byzantio. Hans Gerner, owner of Kelvin Arms and the now-closed Han’s Bier Haus is venturing into 10th Century Norwegian fare with Ship & Shield. In a conversation with Eric Sandler of CultureMap Houston, Gerner said he “envisions Ship & Shield as an intimate, candlelit venue where friends can gather over shared meals centered around wild game.” The restaurant announced a December 1 grand opening on its Facebook page.

That's it for this week's restaurant openings and closings. Do you know of something we missed? Leave us a comment or send us an email to tell us about it.

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