Restaurant News

Rest(aurants) in Peace: Notable Closings of 2012

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The Old Guard Stands Down

When it was announced that Guadalajara Bakery would be closing in February, many garments were rent and wails were wept. The little family-owned bakery and taqueria was one of the last vestiges of "old" Washington Avenue, and was set to be replaced with yet another bar after the landlord gave the family 30 days' notice to vacate. Guadalajara was given a stay of execution -- but only for a month -- and closed in March. Nine months later, the space is still empty. And I am still bitter.

But that wasn't the last that Washington Avenue saw of a spate of closings. In addition to the fire at The Broken Spoke, two restaurants noted for their pioneering wine programs closed: Cova Hand-Selected Wines and Block 7 Wine Co.

Both locations of Cova -- including the one on Kirby -- closed in April after rumblings that the wine bar had been in financial trouble for some time after the departure of its previous owner, wine guru Monsterville Horton IV. Six years prior, the original Cova on Washington Avenue was doing so well, its investors couldn't open a second location fast enough. Construction in Rice Village near the second location on Kirby seriously cut into Cova's finances in 2009, and it doesn't seem as if the locations ever fully recovered.

Meanwhile, Block 7 Wine Co. closed much more quietly after four years in business. It was one of the first new-build restaurants to move into the Washington Avenue corridor and was equally lauded for its retail wine shop component (which allowed customers to purchase bottles of wine on premises for a discount) as well as its upscale comfort food. But the retail wine side of the business faltered and closed, and although a big-name chef was hired to redo the menu and re-launch the concept, the turnaround never panned out. Block 7 closed in November.

Another quiet closure of a Houston favorite took place when Pesce -- the seafood restaurant helmed by Mark Holley -- closed in April to make way for....Brio Tuscan Grille. Oh, Houston. Sometimes I just don't get you.

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Katharine Shilcutt