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Bob Plumb

Retail suggestions for downtown and tunnels:

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Here are a few opportunities I have thought of if I was in the business

 

A full sized Starbucks style sit down McDonalds in the tunnel.

A high quality Chinese buffet.

A nice lodge/lounge style men's barbershop.

An AUTHENTIC Texas style KOLACHE shop.

A REAL Mom & Pop local donut shop to replace Shipley's.

A Laredo Taco Stand quality breakfast taco shop.

A second Whataburger.

AMAZON lockers.

 

 

Please NO MORE Subways.

 

A Soylent Green style BUM scooping truck.

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I think your taco suggestion is the most likely. Some of the others have execution issues because of the limited hours they have to sell.

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Isn't there already a (small) sit-down McDonalrd's?  And do you not like Red's Barber Shop, or are you speaking about something like Shave in Midtown?  A Mom and Pop Doughnut shop - kind of like some of the Mom and Pop kolache shops that have gone out of business over the years?  And why would one need an amazon locker, when they could just have their order delivered to their home or work?

 

 

I would like to see a Taco bell., preferably street level so I can (hopefully) go on a Saturday

 

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Isn't there already a (small) sit-down McDonalrd's?  And do you not like Red's Barber Shop, or are you speaking about something like Shave in Midtown?  A Mom and Pop Doughnut shop - kind of like some of the Mom and Pop kolache shops that have gone out of business over the years?  And why would one need an amazon locker, when they could just have their order delivered to their home or work?

 

 

I would like to see a Taco bell., preferably street level so I can (hopefully) go on a Saturday

 

Please re read my post, apply reading comprehension, then answer.

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I think your taco suggestion is the most likely. Some of the others have execution issues because of the limited hours they have to sell.

 

A fast, fresh and homemade breakfast/lunch taco stand would probably make a killing. The one at Luchi & Joey's or w/e they are called is good but most of the time it takes too long for them to get around to getting to the cash register. 

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Please re read my post, apply reading comprehension, then answer.

 

A little testy on a Tuesday morning?

Edited by arrodiii
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Here are a few opportunities I have thought of if I was in the business

 

A full sized Starbucks style sit down McDonalds in the tunnel.

A high quality Chinese buffet.

A nice lodge/lounge style men's barbershop.

An AUTHENTIC Texas style KOLACHE shop.

A REAL Mom & Pop local donut shop to replace Shipley's.

A Laredo Taco Stand quality breakfast taco shop.

A second Whataburger.

AMAZON lockers.

 

 

Please NO MORE Subways.

 

A Soylent Green style BUM scooping truck.

 

Large seating areas are going to be more expensive and not appeal to that many customers, especially n the tunnels where a good chunk of your business is grab and go. Fast food @ street level = bum magnet = people with money repellant. The guy that ran the BK in the Houston Club building told me as much.  

 

Chinese food that people will pay for in America is bulk stir fry. I think quality is something of a secondary issue and would just lose money. Maybe a Pei Wei would do well because people know the name, but I don't see myself eating there every week, and that's my gut measure for what I guess would work in a DT lunch only place.

 

Not sure what a lounge style barber shop would do, but there are plenty of fairly conventional shops that have been around for a long time, they seem to be the best in terms of not going out of business, but I go to Supercuts, so what do I know.

 

4-6 are suggestions for higher quality more niche focused stuff, which means more expensive stuff. For the day in/day out traffic you need to survive, you're going to have a hard time pricing above your competitors unless you are offering something almost completely different in terms of quality. I don't think you can go from Wendy's to Beck's Prime in the donut world. If it were good enough, it could catch on, but the market for premium food seems pretty shallow downtown.

 

A second Whataburger seems more than reasonable. The one under 1000 Main does killer business breakfast and lunch. 

 

I agree that we're at Subway (Alonti, Murphy's, WhichWich, etc.) saturation, but that kind of proves the point about what the market supports. People go with cheap commodity food if they are buying it 200+ times per year.

 

I've seen so many shops try and fail in the tunnels and downtown, it's hard to see what might be left to exploit that has not already been attempted. I'm really hoping Phonecia holds on (no reason to think they won't), but apart from them, I can't really think of anything new and different that got any traction recently.

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All I know is that every day all I hear is people complaining about not having enough dining choices dt and I see all these empty retail locations above and below. I'm obv no expert but I do see opportunities. And a nice fancy McD's would be a GOLDMINE. Keep it near the city office bldg like it is in the tunnel and it will be packed all day. There really isn't much of a bum problem in the tunnels. 

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First of all, premium burger joints tend to stay pretty busy during the lunch hours. Now if they're getting by charging a higher margin, why would McDonald's benefit from charging a lower margin?

Besides, the surface McDonald's by the police station already does stay busy all day. Not like they need another location for possibly higher rent. Only certain spaces have a vent hood installed in the tunnels, and installing one where one doesn't exist is expensive, hence all the cold cut shops.

 

Thirdly, McDonald's sucks.

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The trouble with good kolaches: Not enough demand. Much as I'd love to have a Hillje's or Prasek's quality kolache in the tunnels, they don't have hundreds of people stopping through like those places do. This low demand and the pressure to provide a good selection means you have to throw out a lot of kolaches at the end of the day. Kolache Factory is resigned to this and sell theirs for half off after 2 PM, but are still left with plenty of spares. So with all that waste, that means to break even with a higher quality kolache is to raise prices significantly. But not too high or you start hurting your demand. Not optimistic that it would work.

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So you are all agreed that nobody should EVER try anything new and downtown should just stay perpetually shitty. Ok.

 

Houston will never grow and be a greater city with most everyone keeping it down.

 

McDonald's DOES suck and I don't go there. But they make a killing.

 

 

 

 

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So you are all agreed that nobody should EVER try anything new and downtown should just stay perpetually shitty. Ok.

 

Houston will never grow and be a greater city with most everyone keeping it down.

 

McDonald's DOES suck and I don't go there. But they make a killing.

Maybe apply some of your own logic?

Please re read [the] post(s), apply reading comprehension, then answer.

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So you are all agreed that nobody should EVER try anything new and downtown should just stay perpetually shitty. Ok.

 

Wow, you really are in a bad mood.

 

As I said earlier, the taco idea sounds great. Funny you should complain about reading comprehension.

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Thirdly, McDonald's sucks.

Except for their frappes which are close enough to the Starbucks version, but a lot cheaper. And they used to have a hot sweet potato pie that was pretty good. Last time I had one was at the McD's in the tunnel.

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Food trucks would be a good idea downtown. Sometimes golden grill and ladybird come by houston pavilions but city council needs to stop looking at pocketbooks and do the right thing

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So you are all agreed that nobody should EVER try anything new and downtown should just stay perpetually shitty. Ok.

 

Houston will never grow and be a greater city with most everyone keeping it down.

 

McDonald's DOES suck and I don't go there. But they make a killing.

 

If you just want to be pissed off, that's your choice. I'm trying to figure out what works, but there are so many failures down in the tunnels, it's not like people haven't put a lot more thought in to it than any of us ever will and not failed anyway. Recognizing that isn't keeping it down, it's growing like a mofo, and people like sammiches, apparently.

 

Failures I can think of off the top of my head;

 

Bewiched

Soup Cowboy

Howdy Burger

Thai place under FirstCity

Everything after Droubi next to Benihana

Burger King

Bennigan's

Longhorn Cafe

The Asian place that was where Tejas Grill is now

Other burger place between Becks and Rajin Cajun

Several places where Prince's/Brooklyn Meatball are now

 

Restaurants are an extremely tough business in the best of circumstances, when you try to make a go of it against a ton of competition with very limited hours, you have to find a great combination to make it work.  If someone had an established name like Niko Niko and Barnaby's have, I think that helps, but Kolaches that no one knows about for 50% more are going to be a tough sell.

 

McD's has some fairly iron clad franchise restrictions. Getting around those might make another DT location fairly difficult. That might be holding back another Whataburger too. If the franchisee of the existing shop doesn't want to open anohe location, other franchisees may be geographically restricted out of DT. But I'm just speculating.

Edited by Nate99

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Who wouldn't want AMAZON lockers? Trying to catch deliveries at my house is a pain. Trying to get anything in the mail or delivered to my building is a bigger pain. That's why they invented them, for the convenience. 

 

I just see so much opportunity in DT. If I had the finances I would have the whole place filled up with all manner of businesses. 

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Wednesdays are the farmer's market out in front of city hall, plenty of alternative lunch options and food trucks.

The best lunch spots are street level but there's some good places in the tunnel too.

My personal favs are:

BK Meatball Co.

Burger Guys

Sophias (breakfast tacos)

Treebeards (non-tunnel location)

Zydecos

Georgia Fresh

Salata

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Who wouldn't want AMAZON lockers? Trying to catch deliveries at my house is a pain. Trying to get anything in the mail or delivered to my building is a bigger pain. That's why they invented them, for the convenience. 

 

I just see so much opportunity in DT. If I had the finances I would have the whole place filled up with all manner of businesses. 

I was intrigued by the Amazon locker thing so I looked it up. Couldn't find any locations in the Houston area.

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Since the tunnels don't seem to be going away any time soon, there needs to be some more visible signage pointing to more stairways that lead to the tunnels, telling the directions to the most populated place of the tunnels: The Foodcourt. And also the signs should show any the names to any restaurants or boutique shops that can be accessed through that tunnel.

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Since the tunnels don't seem to be going away any time soon, there needs to be some more visible signage pointing to more stairways that lead to the tunnels, telling the directions to the most populated place of the tunnels: The Foodcourt. And also the signs should show any the names to any restaurants or boutique shops that can be accessed through that tunnel.

 

I think that they would need to increase the hours of operation before they do that. 

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I think they keep the tunnel access signage to a minimum to keep the street trash out.

 

...And this is the problem right here. The idea that the tunnels are some sort of refuge from homeless people.

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I've thought about downtown retail a whole lot... like seriously. Two things that I think would make an immediate, positive impact to our downtown...

1) HOUSTON Gift Shops- The only decent one in downtown is at City Hall. We need MORE, and they need to sell all the crap that you would expect them too. If we're going to grow tourism in Houston, we must have gift shops. No better place for them than downtown.

2) Buc-ees- the stores have quickly become a Texas favorite. Even without gas, the Texas knick knacks and great food that Buc-ees has would work well in downtown Houston. Think how much stuff the Conventioners could buy there.

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I dig the Beaver, but there is NO WAY it works downtown. The entire concept is built around being a road stop. A clean place to pee, fill up the car, and get the screaming kids to shut up for the next hour while they stuff their faces with Icees and Beaver Nuggets. Would a Buc-ees make money without the ability to move tons of gas?

 

However, when the new Marriott Marquis opens, then maybe the convention bureau needs to open a retail joint in the lobby filled with Texana stuff that the tourists can buy that would also market stuff to the park (convenience store stuff). 

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I dig the Beaver, but there is NO WAY it works downtown. The entire concept is built around being a road stop. A clean place to pee, fill up the car, and get the screaming kids to shut up for the next hour while they stuff their faces with Icees and Beaver Nuggets. Would a Buc-ees make money without the ability to move tons of gas?

 

However, when the new Marriott Marquis opens, then maybe the convention bureau needs to open a retail joint in the lobby filled with Texana stuff that the tourists can buy that would also market stuff to the park (convenience store stuff). 

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I dig the Beaver, but there is NO WAY it works downtown. The entire concept is built around being a road stop. A clean place to pee, fill up the car, and get the screaming kids to shut up for the next hour while they stuff their faces with Icees and Beaver Nuggets. Would a Buc-ees make money without the ability to move tons of gas?

However, when the new Marriott Marquis opens, then maybe the convention bureau needs to open a retail joint in the lobby filled with Texana stuff that the tourists can buy that would also market stuff to the park (convenience store stuff).

I'm guessing that there will be a gift shop attached to the new tourist center opening across from Minute Maid.

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I dig the Beaver, but there is NO WAY it works downtown. The entire concept is built around being a road stop. A clean place to pee, fill up the car, and get the screaming kids to shut up for the next hour while they stuff their faces with Icees and Beaver Nuggets. Would a Buc-ees make money without the ability to move tons of gas?

However, when the new Marriott Marquis opens, then maybe the convention bureau needs to open a retail joint in the lobby filled with Texana stuff that the tourists can buy that would also market stuff to the park (convenience store stuff).

Buc-ee's is so much more than a gas station... It's become a true Texas brand. Besides beaver swag and beautimus bathrooms, Buc-ee's could bring a bulwark of boisterous dining options. They have great food at the one in Madsonville, and it's all grab-n-go. Absolutely BUILT for downtown Houston. Edited by totheskies

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Buc-ee's is so much more than a gas station... It's become a true Texas brand. Besides beaver swag and beautimus bathrooms, Buc-ee's could bring a bulwark of boisterous dining options. They have great food at the one in Madsonville, and it's all grab-n-go. Absolutely BUILT for downtown Houston.

 

Actually, having a Buc-ee's with gas pumps could be a good move.  Not many gas stations in downtown.

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Buc-ee's is so much more than a gas station... It's become a true Texas brand. Besides beaver swag and beautimus bathrooms, Buc-ee's could bring a bulwark of boisterous dining options. They have great food at the one in Madsonville, and it's all grab-n-go. Absolutely BUILT for downtown Houston.

 

But no, I don't think that it will work - it's a gas station. Just because they sell shirts and other branded items doesn't mean that it will bring in revenue like in their other stores without providing gas. And honestly, I wouldn't want a Buc-ee's in downtown.  I would rather have a workable market, more restaurants and bars, and another macy's, or similar department store.

Edited by arrodiii
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No it isn't. Buc-ees is a gas station with an incredible brand and gimmick but people aren't going to go there when they aren't on the road. 

 

I've been to the Buc-ees in Madisonville, the one in Luling, and the newer one in Bastrop. Heck, just today they announced one for Baytown along I-10. Those places make sense because tens of thousands pass by them in their CARS daily. 

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But no, I don't think that it will work - it's a gas station. Just because they sell shirts and other branded items doesn't mean that it will bring in revenue like in their other stores without providing gas. And honestly, I wouldn't want a Buc-ee's in downtown.  I would rather have a workable market, more restaurants and bars, and another macy's, or similar department store.

Most of the revenue for gas station/convenience stores comes from merchandise, not gas. They frequently sell at near cost (for them) just to be competitive. That's what Buc-ee's figured out so well. They are able to draw people into the store where they line up to buy stuff. Still think it could work in the city. Especially if they put up the 100 foot beaver beacon. ;)

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 Especially if they put up the 100 foot beaver beacon. ;)

 

Signs in downtown are limited to 42.5 feet, unless it is the companies national headquarters and the company occupies at least 45% of the building that the sign is on.

 

http://documents.publicworks.houstontx.gov/documents/divisions/planning/enforcement/signcode20110902.pdf

 

Section 4609 (E)(2)

Edited by LarryDierker

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