IronTiger

Lower Westheimer, 1986

33 posts in this topic

It's been a bit slow on HAIF recently, so I've decided to bring you a short listing of the businesses, circa 1986, from the Chron. Not all of the article is reproduced (© concerns, afterall). It includes some interesting tidbits, like the Tower Theater being restored as a live theater in 1984, and the fact that several old structures were demolished at this time. I've read on HAIF that they wanted to close Lower Westheimer to vehicular traffic sometime in the 1980s--this is the kind of things that Westheimer was offering at the time. Do you remember any of these? (not Felix or anything still there, like Numbers). When I have time, I might transcribe some of the "modern" equivalents based on address.

 

We've included some of the larger shops, restaurants and landmarks, but things are changing for the better all the time. A trip to lower Westheimer on any weekend - day or night - might offer new discoveries.

Above the Curve

Radio Music Theater: A unique form of nightclub entertainment, which has now even been copied in other cities, Radio Music Theater began here in Houston and could well travel beyond it. Three actors (Steve and Vicki Farrell, Ken Polk) revive the golden days of radio but with modern topical twists. Current review "Fear of Ducks" ends soon. Shows are 8:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday and 11 p.m. Saturday. 1840 Westheimer; 522-7722.

Driscoll Street Cafe: 1834 Westheimer. 522-7020. This restaurant came under new management last fall, but kept the same name. Let there be no confusion, because changes have been made: The menu has been altered to show a decidedly Cajun flavor, and piano bar music is now presented live most nights. 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Saturday. 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday (brunch on Sunday). Bar open later.

Westheimer Flea Market: Glassware, antiques, collectibles, furniture, books, plants, jewelry and the best of the '50s are all gathered under one roof in this aggregation of some 30 shops. Hours are 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Saturday. 1733 Westheimer; 528-1015.

Cut Loose: Spiked, sprayed or shredded, hair comes out in novel ways in this tonsorial parlor that suits radical tastes. Hours are 10 p.m.-6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. 1711 Westheimer; 520-7401.

Pearl's Oyster Bar: Originally a Baptist church, it first became a restaurant 14 years ago and has remained in the same hands to the present. Manager Brandon Broussard says that the facade and parking lot are both the same as they were in 1927 when the church was built. Inside, the high cathedral ceiling and arched windows also remain. Oyster nachos, boiled shrimp, oyster bar, catfish served 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Monday-Friday and 5:30-11 p.m. daily. 1658 Westheimer; 523-4982.

Timeless Taffeta: There's always something weird and wonderful (like a poodle-skirted mannequin with sunglasses and a blond wig) standing outside to greet shoppers. The 6-year old store is stocked with a range of vintage clothing, costumes and accessories. Hours are 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Saturday, noon-6 p.m. Sunday. 1623 Westheimer; 529-6299.

Mr. Peabody's Wayback Machine: The twin brother to Timeless Taffeta, Mr. Peabody's is located in the same strip center and has much the same offering. Owner Mary Haberlein-Landingham has been in the current location for six years. Hours are 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Saturday, noon-5 p.m. Sunday. 1613 Westheimer; 521-9424.

Firehouse Community Center and Gallery: Formerly Fire Station No. 16 (dedicated 1923) now serves as a community meeting place for groups such as the Neartown Association, Citizens' Environmental Coalition, Bayou Preservation Association, The Park People and Women's Caucus for Art, which has a permanent gallery in the old fire truck bay. 1413 Westheimer. 520-7840.

The Curve

Sheer Insanity: An amazing collection of trendy and unusual gifts and novelty items, toys, cards, accessories and clothing. This shop has a second location in the Village. Hours are 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Saturday. 1424 Westheimer; 526-9522.

The Daiquiri Factory: The frozen cocktail gets its own haven here, including such delicacies as the Triple Bypass, containing bourbon, rum, amaretto and fruit juice. Hours are 3 p.m.-midnight daily, until 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday. 1423-B Westheimer; 523-7008.

Hollywood on the Curve: Memorabilia reproductions and original movie posters, greeting cards, gifts and postcards, most with movie themes. Owner Mary Norris says she also runs a search service for people looking for certain hard-to-find movie posters. Hours are 10:30 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Friday, noon-10 p.m. Saturday, noon-6 p.m. Sundays. 1422 Westheimer; 522-4485.

Dragon and the Rat: Helium balloons, gifts, posters, cards, custom framing and novelty items. Hours are 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday-Saturday, 12:30 p.m.-7 p.m. Sundays. 1416 Westheimer; 520-2822.

Manhattan Cards and Hair: The strange combination of a beauty shop and card/gift shop. Besides the regular merchandise available in the store, owners David Fowler and Norman Guttman boast the largest collection of red plastic (more than 10,000 pieces) in the world. Hours are 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Saturday, noon-6 p.m. Sunday. 1412 Westheimer; 522-2822.

Wear It Again Sam: (Formerly Stop the Clock) Men and women's vintage clothes, collectibles, shoes and a large collection of old costume jewelry. Among the shop's claim to fame: Annie Lennox (of the band Eurythmics) shopped here when she was in town two years ago. Hours are noon-6 p.m. Monday-Friday, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday, 1 p.m.-6 p.m. Sunday. Closed Tuesday. 1411 Westheimer; 523-5258.

Ding-a-Ling Monkeeshines: It's a jungle in here but not dangerous. Owner Kevin McGinnis (SEE CORRECTION) is king of the beasts, presiding over the many species of small stuffed animals and balloons for every occasion. But this is an all-service entertainment" place that also delivers singing telegrams and provides belly dancers for special occasions. Hours are 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday. 1408 Westheimer; 521-0565.

Creative Neon: Without a doubt the flashiest store on lower Westheimer, this shop is the lighthouse for the curve. A stunning display of neon fills the windows. Owner Hank Iglecia is the dean" of shop owners on the curve, serving as informal organizer of the Shop the Curve shop owners group and creator of the Shop the Curve sign. Creative Neon makes custom neon to order, but shoppers also can choose from a small gift line of sculptures and mirrors available in the shop. Hours are 10 a.m.-midnight daily. 1403 Westheimer; 523-0783.

The Fashion Lab: Off the rack, one-of-a-kind designer clothing, swimsuits to evening gowns for men and women (priced from $37.50 to $600) by designer Ken Simmons. His workroom is on the premises. Simmons says he also offers a custom design service, where he will design an outfit for a certain party or event. Hours are 11 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Monday-Friday, noon-5:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday and by appointment. 1403 Westheimer (upstairs); 523-0783.

Quality Custom Framing: Owner Tim Subcliffe says he offers custom framing at do-it-yourself prices. Also, some posters for sale and mini-gallery of framed graphics and photography for browsers. Hours are 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Saturday. 1403 Westheimer; 520-7880.

Cherryhurst Center: This 58-year-old center, 1340 Westheimer, was at one time a large drugstore. Divided into separate shops some years back, the center now houses four shops and a wine bar, including:

Appearances: Men's sportswear and casual cotton clothing. Owner Lynn Richard says he likes to offer not-too-trendy" styles. Hours are 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Saturday. Closed Sunday. 521-9450.

The Flat Earth: A record store offering what owner Ed Pickens calls alternative music," as well as domestic and dance music. The shop has a listening area with couches and chairs. Pickens says he wants customers to feel comfortable about listening to the music before they buy. Hours are 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday-Saturday, 1-6 p.m. Sunday. 527-8885.

Texas Tanning: A tanning salon. Owner Chris McCormick says the tanning beds used are the largest available. The chain also has stores in Woodlake and Clear Lake. Hours are 7 a.m.-11 p.m. Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. 526-5620.

42nd Street and Times Square : Big collection of sunglasses, costume jewelry and sports clothes. Hours are 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-midnight Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Sunday. 521-1134.

Et Vous/Cherryhurst Wine Bar: A sleek and small wine bar with paintings on the wall and dramatic lighting and decor. Hours are 8 p.m.-midnight Sunday-Thursday, 8 p.m.-1 a.m. Friday and Saturday. Closed Monday and Tuesday. 522-9009.

Renu's Thai Restaurant: Thai cuisine. Hours are 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday and 5 p.m.-10 p.m. Sunday. 1230 Westheimer; 528-6998.

The Tower Theater: The theater holds it head up high as the neighborhood's bringer of culture and enlightenment, in the form of everything from Lily Tomlin and Laurie Anderson to touring productions of "Agnes of God" and "Noises Off". The compact and cozy hall was bought and restored by Pace Theatrical in 1984. 1201 Westheimer; 529-5966 or 529-7444.

Below the Curve

Felix's Mexican: Totally traditional Mexican food, right across the street from Tila's, but neither restaurant seems to mind the competition. Felix's has been in this location since the late '30s and may be the oldest restaurant on the block. Hours are 11 a.m.-9:45 p.m. daily. 904 Westheimer; 529-3949.

Ruggles's Seafood and Club Flamingo: Adapting to the environment, Ruggles recently lightened up its interior and lightened the menu to give fish first place. Sensibly priced but not common (escargots in a boiling lava of herb butter), fresh and creatively presented (example of smart move: dinner salad prices gradated according to number of persons). Open Monday through Friday for lunch, seven days a week for dinner until 11 p.m. Adjacent Birdwatcher's brought live jazz to Westheimer once and will again as soon as Club Flamingo is ready to open as a cabaret May 8. 903 Westheimer; 524-3839.

Tila's Cantina and Tacqueria: The neon clock on the outside tells the customer that it's always time for the Mexican food of this hardy, distinctive (black beans instead of "refritos") lower Westheimer restaurant. Recently, the menu was expanded and portions enlarged, the choices beginning with red sauce or creamy roast tomatilla. Hours are 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday, until midnight Friday and Saturday. Closed Monday. 616 Westheimer; 520-6315.

Michelangelo's Italian: Michelangelo Predozin came to this country from Venice (not the one in California) 23 years ago, and his restaurant is going on 16 years in this location. His pasta and veal remain favorites for many Houstonians. Hours are 11:30-10 p.m. daily, until 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. 307 Westheimer; 524-7836.

Numbers: This nightclub is the bastion of the Judy's, headquarters for the Cult and Divinyls and other musical groups beyond the pale of top-40 radio, but just the cup of tea for adventurous pop fans and dance-all-night dervishes. Hours are 9 p.m.-2 a.m. Wednesday-Saturday. 300 Westheimer; 526-8338 (concert line), 526-6551.

Cafe L.A.: This cafe with live entertainment opened last July with a laid-back West Coast atmosphere. Folk and rock but no hard rock or heavy metal - too hard on those laid-back ears. Open for lunch and dinner Monday through Friday and until 3 a.m. on Friday and Saturday to catch the after-club crowd. With an oyster bar, seafood, omelets, fajitas and a Sunday brunch. 243 Westheimer; 529-0099.

The article's name was "The Wacky World of Lower Westheimer".

Edited by IronTiger

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This is great--very interesting--

I've only lived in this area since 2005 but wondered when the plant place went in next to HPD storefront? Actually when was the Horse shaped Topiary  planted at the curb  in front of the HPD storefront was put there--any ideas? why a horse?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

By the way, one of the things I cut from the article was the mention of the police substation moving in, which had a neon badge as one of its features.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've thinking about that neon badge sign. Why tear it down?

I think that would have really added to the night time shots with the TowerTheater marquee in the background.

I had heard the "M" sign at Bagby & Elgin might get a redo by the MMD--- maybe a little neon would perk it up also.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've thinking about that neon badge sign. Why tear it down?

I think that would have really added to the night time shots with the TowerTheater marquee in the background.

I had heard the "M" sign at Bagby & Elgin might get a redo by the MMD--- maybe a little neon would perk it up also.

 

Wasn't the original Tila's building with the neon demolished at some point?

 

 

I do remember buying cards at Sheer Insanity.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I was really hoping Creative Neon would be the current Light Unlimited. But on Google maps it looks like maybe that weird little spy gadget store? Or the strip center behind it?

 

The only one on the list I've been to is Numbers. Fashion lab rings a bell... Was it possibly turned into a used clothing store? and moved somewhere else in the area?

 

-Yeah, pretty slow on HAIF when I'm commenting in the historic section.

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wasn't the original Tila's building with the neon demolished at some point?

 

Yes. Katz's is located on the site where Tila's used to be. The old Tila's building was set farther back from the street than Katz's is. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

With the amount of buildings demolished at the time, I wonder why they didn't widen that narrow part of Westheimer when they had the chance? I mean, there were (and are) good reasons for not making a pedestrian mall in the area, but improving the sidewalks and the road widths around the area back in the 1980s when they still could (today it would be considerably more expensive) could've worked wonders.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wasn't Art Wren's restaurant in the building or part of the property where Katz's is today in the mid 60s?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yep, 1963 directory confirms Art Wren's Restaurant at 616 Westheimer.

 

 

Wasn't Art Wren's restaurant in the building or part of the property where Katz's is today in the mid 60s?

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have vague memories of lower Westheimer from the 70s, if not earlier.  I remember it having a lot more charm before many of the grand, early 20th century (or earlier?) houses were demo'd or burned down.

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I was just in Katz about a week ago. So, are you guys saying that the building contains part of an older one, or is it all new? 

 

ArchFan...I have vague memories of lower Westheimer, as well. I remember extra-large bungalows and massive dilapidated homes...many were rentals for artists, and a mix of smaller houses, some converted into businesses (Empana place) and those oak-lined streets. I still find it visually fascinating...enjoyed cruising those skinny, anything-but-predictable streets the other night. There was a house that sat on the curve, at the top of Westheimer, it had a 3rd story greenhouse-looking structure sitting on a traditional, rectangular house. I studied that place for a long time. I believe it has been removed.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

......... I remember extra-large bungalows and massive dilapidated homes...many were rentals for artists, and a mix of smaller houses, some converted into businesses (Empana place) and those oak-lined streets......

 

I remember it well. I was at the University of St. Thomas from 1964 to 1968 and then my wife and lived on West Main from 1971 to 1973.

 

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I was just in Katz about a week ago. So, are you guys saying that the building contains part of an older one, or is it all new? 

 

Katz's building was new construction. It's situated differently on the site than the old Tila's building was (Tila's had quite a bit more setback from Westheimer). 

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Katz's building was new construction. It's situated differently on the site than the old Tila's building was (Tila's had quite a bit more setback from Westheimer). 

 

As I recall, the exterior walls were left standing and propped up on the inside with iron braces. If the walls came down the City would not have granted them the "0" setback that the building currently enjoys. Reallistically speaking however, there is not much left of the original building.

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Does anybody remember where gay bar called The Midnight Sun from the late 70's/early 80's was located?  I seem to recall it being right near the curve (around where Katz is now) but a friend told me it was further in on lower Westheimer, probably near Numbers (then called Club Babylon I believe).  I do know it was on Westheimer but just cannot recall exactly where it was.  Was it demolished or could it still be there as something else.  Great thread!

Edited by EspersonBuildings

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Does anybody remember where gay bar called The Midnight Sun from the late 70's/early 80's was located?  I seem to recall it being right near the curve (around where Katz is now) but a friend told me it was further in on lower Westheimer, probably near Numbers (then called Club Babylon I believe).  I do know it was on Westheimer but just cannot recall exactly where it was.  Was it demolished or could it still be there as something else.  Great thread!

 

Your memory is correct. It was across the street from the Chicken Coop, which IIRC was at Stanford and Westheimer or Stanford and Avondale.

 

Katz's is at Crocker and Westheimer, which would be out of the frame to the left in the pic below. 

 

7941afa0b6b91c96a5036372014820ff.jpg

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Awesome photo, THANK YOU SO MUCH !!!!  It looks like the corner of Stanford & Westheimer looking east toward Main Street, and I'd say circa 1981, 82 or earlier.  Thanks again, much appreciated!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I should have credited JD Doyle's Houston LGBT History site (which I believe has been mentioned here before) for the photo - lots of other photos that are definitely worth a look for anyone interested in the Montrose of the 70s and 80s:

 

http://www.houstonlgbthistory.org/

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Your memory is correct. It was across the street from the Chicken Coop, which IIRC was at Stanford and Westheimer or Stanford and Avondale.

 

Katz's is at Crocker and Westheimer, which would be out of the frame to the left in the pic below. 

 

7941afa0b6b91c96a5036372014820ff.jpg

 

Look at that old iron on the road. A GM Dreamliner "Fishbowl" transit bus, a K-car, a B-body Buick, a GMC C/K, and I think that's an AMC on the right. All long gone, probably except for the GMC C/K. I still see that bodystyle on the road regularly.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 12/24/2014 at 0:58 PM, mkultra25 said:

 

Katz's building was new construction. It's situated differently on the site than the old Tila's building was (Tila's had quite a bit more setback from Westheimer). 

The front of Katz's is the original facade. The rest of the building is new construction. I remember when the building was gutted for the coming 'M Bar', the side and back walls were removed and the front was shored up. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This image faces east.  And the strange orange car on the right is a Mercury Bobcat - the nicer Pinto.  What was the Stop N Go on the right was torn down and is now Osaka.

 

We won't discuss Midnite Sun. :ph34r:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
20 hours ago, mollusk said:

And the strange orange car on the right is a Mercury Bobcat - the nicer Pinto.  

 

37 years old, and preserved like a fly trapped in amber:

 

1979 Mercury Bobcat

2 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 7/15/2017 at 10:21 PM, mollusk said:

This image faces east.  And the strange orange car on the right is a Mercury Bobcat - the nicer Pinto.  What was the Stop N Go on the right was torn down and is now Osaka.

 

It looks like Stop N Go (and the other businesses there) were converted houses (which is what many businesses in Montrose were like). Neat!

The building looks like it was gone by 1989, though (probably closed after converting a nearby 7-Eleven?)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now