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Downtown Restaurant And Bar Scene - More Coming


HeightsGuy

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On 7/5/2022 at 11:09 AM, j_cuevas713 said:

Based on the energy this past weekend and the one before, I think downtown is coming back stronger. Pre-pandemic we started to see some real synergy downtown. With the addition of POST, which has become a hub for different activity, it's really helped create more energy downtown. I think with the renovation of The Shops, the Stros Village, and Skanska's future project, things are only going to get better and better. 

Do you have a sense of how Finn Hall is looking lately? I really want that place to succeed. 

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On 7/5/2022 at 11:09 AM, j_cuevas713 said:

Based on the energy this past weekend and the one before, I think downtown is coming back stronger. Pre-pandemic we started to see some real synergy downtown. With the addition of POST, which has become a hub for different activity, it's really helped create more energy downtown. I think with the renovation of The Shops, the Stros Village, and Skanska's future project, things are only going to get better and better. 

The busiest days seem to be Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday; which jibes with what I've read in the business press about how most office workers who can pick the days they go in to work are gravitating toward the middle of the week.

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4 hours ago, nate4l1f3 said:

Do you have a sense of how Finn Hall is looking lately? I really want that place to succeed. 

Not great.  I've been there, or through there, about five times in the last couple of months, because I have business with Chase.  Foot traffic has been very light.  And I think the really good chicken joint closed.  Or at least it wasn't open the last time I went.

The big problem with Finn, as someone who lives down the street, is that you never know when it's open, so you don't bother to go.  Sure, the food court, itself, has regular hours.  But each vendor within is allowed to set their own, lesser hours.  So what's the point of going, if it's safe to assume that half of the options are going to be closed?

In large retail spaces, like malls, it's not uncommon for the owner to require minimum operating hours of its stores.  Finn should do this.

Also, it's not open on weekends.  Every other bar and restaurant on Main Street can be packed after a Saturday Astros game, but Finn is closed.  It makes the street look bad.  It makes Finn look unreliable.  It makes the restaurants inside look amateur.  If you're a restaurant on Main Street that's not open on weekends, you're not a business.  You're a hobby.

I think I'm not going to try with Finn anymore.  If it can't respect the neighborhood enough to be open on weekends, then why would I give it any of my money?  There are other options. 

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3 hours ago, editor said:

Not great.  I've been there, or through there, about five times in the last couple of months, because I have business with Chase.  Foot traffic has been very light.  And I think the really good chicken joint closed.  Or at least it wasn't open the last time I went.

The big problem with Finn, as someone who lives down the street, is that you never know when it's open, so you don't bother to go.  Sure, the food court, itself, has regular hours.  But each vendor within is allowed to set their own, lesser hours.  So what's the point of going, if it's safe to assume that half of the options are going to be closed?

In large retail spaces, like malls, it's not uncommon for the owner to require minimum operating hours of its stores.  Finn should do this.

Also, it's not open on weekends.  Every other bar and restaurant on Main Street can be packed after a Saturday Astros game, but Finn is closed.  It makes the street look bad.  It makes Finn look unreliable.  It makes the restaurants inside look amateur.  If you're a restaurant on Main Street that's not open on weekends, you're not a business.  You're a hobby.

I think I'm not going to try with Finn anymore.  If it can't respect the neighborhood enough to be open on weekends, then why would I give it any of my money?  There are other options. 

I was upset as well when I was down there on a weekend and it was closed!

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On 7/6/2022 at 2:22 PM, nate4l1f3 said:

Do you have a sense of how Finn Hall is looking lately? I really want that place to succeed. 

They seem fine, they're just running on a different schedule at the moment. As things continue to pick up, places will change their hours. It's just hard to recover financially in the service industry. You have to slowly get back in the green. 

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I stopped into the new coffee shop/bar on Travis Street, across from Frank's Pizza today.  It's called The Lucky Italian, and is owned by the same people who own The Italian Job across the street.

Very good coffee, but this location is leaning heavily on the bar/nosh scene for revenue.   Still, I'm happy to have another place to buy beans downtown.  There's a couple of pastry cases, but the offerings are meager, which is fine since the guy behind the bar (I think he's the owner) says they only opened yesterday. 

He says it opens at 6am Monday through Friday, and 7am Saturday and Sunday.  I thanked him for being open on weekends, because I won't patronize a restaurant that only exists to feed the commuters, and has no interest in contributing to the community.† (*cough* Finn Hall *cough*)

It's a much larger space than the old one, and a dining room goes through from Travis Street to Prairie Street.  He says they're going to do lunch and sammitches and small plates for dinner.  There's also a smattering of outdoor seating for the world's last smokers.

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On a side note, I noticed that Day Six is now flogging the fact that it's open at 6am.  I guess that's a change?  I don't know.  It's also promoting catering, which is not a bad idea now that there are almost 12,000 more office workers downtown than there were last year.

†: One exception: Chick-fil-a, because I dig that it gives all of its employees a day of rest.   

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

District Market is open again. It's been closed since at least late August. 
 

I probably won't eat there, but it seems like a handy option for emergency pasta, sauces, chocolate, and coffee beans. 
 

The door says it's open until 10pm on weekdays, so I'll make an effort, since they are. 

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15 hours ago, editor said:

District Market is open again. It's been closed since at least late August. 
 

I probably won't eat there, but it seems like a handy option for emergency pasta, sauces, chocolate, and coffee beans. 
 

The door says it's open until 10pm on weekdays, so I'll make an effort, since they are. 

It's been open for a few months. The food is pretty much the same as before the pandemic, and the groceries they have are expensive but super convenient if you need something last minute. For example, a six-pack of Spindeltap Houston Haze IPA is $18 bucks. The market portion has counter service, and the Cellar 7 Bar portion next door has table service, but both serve the same food. They also have some breakfast/brunch options and are open on the weekends. I wish we had more breakfast options with weekend hours Downtown.

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I expect most of the groceries will be over-priced, but I don't mind paying a premium for the convenience.  

I didn't have time to do anything but breeze through it on my way to Frank's last night.  It looks like it might be possible to order some food at the register to go, like to take home for dinner.  Is that right?

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1 hour ago, editor said:

I expect most of the groceries will be over-priced, but I don't mind paying a premium for the convenience.  

I didn't have time to do anything but breeze through it on my way to Frank's last night.  It looks like it might be possible to order some food at the register to go, like to take home for dinner.  Is that right?

Yes, you can order to go at the counter. They are also on the Ritual app, so you can pre-order and pick up when it's ready. I'm right there with you on a convenience tax on their groceries. The more options we can have Downtown, the better. It's surprising how limited food selection can get late evening on a weeknight. 

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  • 1 month later...
On 9/2/2022 at 5:35 PM, staresatmaps said:

New 24/7 pizza vending machine at 625 Fannin where the Fannin Food Mart and another one next to Social Beer Garden HTX.

I'll totally check that out.

We had a pizza vending machine in the dorm at my college in 1989.  It was pretty great.

But even better was the french fry vending machine next to it.  It had a big plexiglass front, and you would watch your fries being made. 

A big thing turned, and a potato would drop into a holder.  Then another thing would mash it through the slicing grid, and the potato fingers would fall down a chute into the boiling oil.  Then there was a little countdown clock while you watched your spuds fry.  The little metal basket would then rise up, tilt clockwise, and the fresh fries slid down a chute into a paper cup.

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On 9/2/2022 at 5:35 PM, staresatmaps said:

New 24/7 pizza vending machine at 625 Fannin where the Fannin Food Mart and another one next to Social Beer Garden HTX.

That Food Mart has probably had a half dozen of its windows smashed out since it opened, always promptly replaced. I worry for pizza bot's safety. 

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21 hours ago, Nate99 said:

Pizza bot appears to be operational. 
 

 

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Pizza from the pizza bot was reasoably good on a walk home from a bar last weekend. It's not Franks, but there wasn't a giant 1am franks line either. It takes about 3 minutes to spit out an entire well cooked pizza.

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4 hours ago, jermh said:

Pizza from the pizza bot was reasoably good on a walk home from a bar last weekend. It's not Franks, but there wasn't a giant 1am franks line either. It takes about 3 minutes to spit out an entire well cooked pizza.

All hail pizza-bot.

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On 9/9/2022 at 3:04 PM, staresatmaps said:

3.7 google rating in Miami. But I guess we always need more crappy ripoff brunch/hookah/bottle service places.

 

On 9/12/2022 at 1:21 PM, j_cuevas713 said:

I mean this is better than another SpongeBob/Anime pop up with stickers lining the building

 

I don't think this place will be my scene, but I'm happy something is going into the retail space that will keep vagrants from camping and peeing in front of it. Plus, renting this place means another chance something I like can go in elsewhere, eliminating another empty retail space. I heard it is supposed to open in 2-3 weeks and didn't believe it at first, but they've had full construction crews working and making decent progress since last week.

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On 9/16/2022 at 9:49 AM, jermh said:

Pizza from the pizza bot was reasoably good on a walk home from a bar last weekend. It's not Franks, but there wasn't a giant 1am franks line either. It takes about 3 minutes to spit out an entire well cooked pizza.

I had it at 2am on Friday and it was pretty good for a pizza ATM.

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  • 4 weeks later...
On 9/18/2022 at 2:50 PM, downtownian said:

I had it at 2am on Friday and it was pretty good for a pizza ATM.

I’ve had it twice now past 3 AM when it’s the only option downtown. While I’m happy there at least is an option now that late, I have to say it might be the worst pizza I’ve ever had. Couldn’t finish more than a slice either time

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Its pretty bad pizza honestly, but I'll still eat it if I'm hungry. It's about the same level as those pizza van guys and the best part is you don't have to talk to anyone. Now if we could get one of those serve yourself beer spots downtown I will be in heaven. Also, has anybody tried Citadel BBQ at 805 Dallas? I have never seen that place until today.

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14 hours ago, staresatmaps said:

Its pretty bad pizza honestly, but I'll still eat it if I'm hungry. It's about the same level as those pizza van guys and the best part is you don't have to talk to anyone. Now if we could get one of those serve yourself beer spots downtown I will be in heaven. Also, has anybody tried Citadel BBQ at 805 Dallas? I have never seen that place until today.

I have not, but it seems to be a chain as there is one right smack in the Med Center too. But as the old rule goes, if you don't see smoke coming from your BBQ joint, stay away...

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I tried the pizza ATM for lunch, and it wasn't bad.  It wasn't excellent, but it's pizza from a vending machine, not a bistro in Ischia Porte.  I don't think anyone who knowingly buys pizza from a vending machine is in a place to complain about quality.  Not even on the internet.

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There are seven pizzas to choose from. I went with pepperoni because it's a good basic benchmark.

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There's a video that plays for the three minutes while you wait for your pizza to cook.  Based on the visuals, I think the company is based in Toronto.

 

 

The result is not perfect, but it's perfectly edible. 

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There wasn't much pepperoni flavor.  Perhaps some of the others are a little more pronounced.  But the crust was quite good.  Overall, it reminds me of pizza from the California chain Pieology   I think the nearest one to here is Austin.

The downside is that all you get is a pizza.  If you don't already have a drink, or if its host convenience store is closed, you're SOL.  Also, there's nowhere to sit.

I took my pizza to the Harris County Employee Smoking Lounge (a.k.a. the alley by the sally[port]), and it managed to stay hot and crispy the whole way there.

Protip: There's a slot on the machine that has cello-wrapped plastic knives.  Take one.  The crust is pre-sliced before the pizza bakes, so the cheese runs across the seams, and you'll have to cut the cheese to get pie-shaped wedges out of it.

I suspect the vending machine isn't doing too bad.  I saw someone getting one as I was walking toward it.  When I was waiting for the bake, someone asked me about it.  And when I was coming back from eating, there was a young couple waiting for their Hawaiian pie to cook.   That's three customers in about 40 minutes.  Not bad for an out-of-the-way location with zero advertising.

 

 

 

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6 hours ago, staresatmaps said:

But why on earth would you order a pizza in Ischia?? Stick to the world class seafood and, of course, the famous rabbit.

Because I already had those and didn't want to eat the same thing for every meal. Why do you ask?

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  • 1 month later...

Apologies if this is the wrong thread, but Houston Downtown District/Downtown Redevelopment Authority President Kris Larson appeared on the Chron's Looped In podcast. Found his comments about studying the transition of restaurants/other businesses from the tunnels to the street interesting: 

https://www.houstonchronicle.com/business/article/kris-larson-downtown-central-houston-district-17597881.php

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37 minutes ago, JClark54 said:

Apologies if this is the wrong thread, but Houston Downtown District/Downtown Redevelopment Authority President Kris Larson appeared on the Chron's Looped In podcast. Found his comments about studying the transition of restaurants/other businesses from the tunnels to the street interesting: 

https://www.houstonchronicle.com/business/article/kris-larson-downtown-central-houston-district-17597881.php

He mentioned OKC converting its tunnel system to art spaces--this is not something I had ever heard about--does OKC really have that big of a tunnel system?

Other big takeaway for me is that they are evaluating reviving the Downtown Living Initiative to counterbalance the high cost of land.

It's unfortunate that downtown is just at 60% recovery, but I'm sure the trend is similar nationwide, if not worse.

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It doesn’t look to be on the scale of ours, but it’s decently sized. Our tunnels system is huge and really cool, imo. I know they’re not everyone’s favorite on here, but I feel like there’s lots of untapped potential there and I’m sure there’s a way to make them coexist with street-level uses. I like the tunnels for when the weather is awful or too hot. 

Walkable art tunnels would be so lit! I had a look at what they’ve done in OKC and I love the idea! They have theirs neatly color coded and they’ve got some nice murals. We have tons of tunnels and I bet we could get amazingly creative with ours

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1 hour ago, j_cuevas713 said:

It's exciting to think about moving those stores to street level. How would they incentivize a business to leave the tunnel system? 

In Chicago there used to be a Subway and a coffee shop that were on two levels: street, plus tunnel. 
 

Perhaps the city could find some way to convince landlords to cut a deal on rent if a store took both levels. 

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1 hour ago, editor said:

In Chicago there used to be a Subway and a coffee shop that were on two levels: street, plus tunnel. 
 

Perhaps the city could find some way to convince landlords to cut a deal on rent if a store took both levels. 

Seems like the landlords are happy with things empty. Why would they cut a deal?

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1 hour ago, staresatmaps said:

Seems like the landlords are happy with things empty. Why would they cut a deal?

Because full store fronts bring in more store fronts, and more full offices for which they can charge higher rents. 
 

It's why large, professional real estate developers often subsidize rents for certain types of retail and restaurant amenities in their buildings. 

Think of all the times you've seen a building brochure touting "white tablecloth restaurant" as an amenity, even before the building is built. 
 

Good retail = higher rents. That's basic. 

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