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Handies Douzo Restaurant At 4005 Montrose Blvd.


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Houston Chronicle Oct. 25, 2006, 5:28PM

Coffeehouse closing upsets customers

Landlord elects not to lease site to Diedrich franchise


Chronicle Correspondent

Jeff Grant is furious that Diedrich Winlow Coffeehouse, 1901 Westheimer, is scheduled to close Nov. 6 after conducting business in that location for 10 years.

Grant, a loyal customer, has contacted everyone in his e-mail address book and has stood in front of the coffeehouse almost every day for weeks to protest its closure.

The property owner hired a 24-hour security guard and police were called because of his presence, but he is not budging.

Grant is not the only person upset about the closure of Diedrich, which serves about 3,500 customers each week. Hundreds have signed petitions to keep it from closing.

Dirk Smith, owner of the coffeehouse and president of Magna Cum Latte Inc., the Diedrich Coffee franchise in Houston, said his customers are upset because they know the business is being forced to close.

Smith said it is closing because T-Con Properties chose not to lease the property to him.

Said Bradford Schmalfuss, vice president of T-Con Properties and landlord for the space, "We have the right to lease with anyone we want to."

Schmalfuss also said T-Con had no obligation to lease to Smith because the company's original lease was with Diedrich Coffee's corporate office, which chose not to renew.

The property will be leased to The Upper Hand Salon, which is located at 1905 Westheimer next to the coffeehouse. The lease becomes effective on Nov. 7.

Rachael Gower, who owns the salon with her husband, Brian Williard, said they plan to use the space to expand their salon operations.

Smith said he does not understand T-Con's decision.

"Our coffeehouse has brought thousands of people to the Winlow Center," Smith said. "I have never paid the rent late. Bradford told me on several occasions I was the best tenant he had."

A letter dated May 11, addressed to Schmalfuss from Diedrich Coffee's corporate office, confirms that Diedrich Coffee did not plan to renew the lease. But it states that corporate officials asked Smith to negotiate a direct lease with Schmalfuss.

E-mail correspondences between Schmalfuss and Smith indicate that Smith and Schmalfuss agreed to move forward with the lease.

Schmalfuss sent Smith a draft of the lease agreement by e-mail in late May for Smith and his lawyer to review.

Negotiations moved forward until June 9, when Schmalfuss sent Smith an e-mail stating that T-Con would not proceed with lease discussions because it planned "to take the center in a different direction."

Smith said he was shocked by the e-mail, as he had returned only a day earlier to his home in California after a special trip to Houston.

Schmalfuss requested the trip because he wanted Smith to discuss parking issues with the Upper Hand Salon.

"I jumped through hoops for him to make sure everything was going smoothly," Smith said. "I don't know what happened in those 11 hours to completely change his decision."

Gower said some have blamed the Upper Hand Salon for the closure of Diedrich Winlow Coffeehouse.

"We absolutely did not push anyone out," she said. "As small business owners we would never do that because we know how hard it is."

Smith plans to fight T-Con's decision until the day Diedrich closes, but he is also looking for a new location and wants to find a temporary space from which his employees could work.

He said employees also have the option to move to the two other Diedrich Coffeehouse locations in Houston, at 4005 Montrose Blvd. and 1008 Bay Area Blvd.

Grant said he will continue to do everything he can to keep the coffeehouse open.

"People have business meetings here. College students come here to study. Parents feel this is a safe place for their children to hang out after school," Grant said "I am going to keep speaking out because I know people love this place."

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  • 7 months later...

Does anyone know what's bein' built there - across from Lanier Jr. High?

What other developments can anyone tell me about in the Montrose area? I know about Westheimer Tower, Museum Tower, and Alexan Westheimer Square Apartments but what else is goin' on?Also what became of all the Tattoo artists (Black Dragon, Custom Design, Dragon Mikes, etc), Strip Joints (Booby Rock, Spudulike, etc.) and.....well I don't know if they would be called "brothels" but there used to be actual places as apposed to the streets to pick up hookers? Some of them hung out/worked in some of the places I just mentioned.Sure Black Dragon became a palm reading place and Jack's Barber Shop but I don't know what it is now. The Booby Rock is now a lesbian hangout, custom Design Tattoos became an antique shop but I don't know what is is today, Spudulike (or what ever it was called) eventually became the Young Adult Club but I don't know what it is now and....well, I just want to know what became of all the places I remember from the early to late 80s. Maybe this should be moved but I figured since I was askin' about what's bein built across from Lanier and other developments in the erea, I'd put it in "Going Up". www.myspace.com/metalhouston

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Now all we need is that gas station and the car repair gone...though I guess you need that stuff somewhere, lol. Those rough looking little townhouses (??) behind the car place on Woodhead seem strangely out of place

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 14 years later...

Yep. I don't know if it's a second Handies Douzo location or not, even though that's the name listed. But it is a project from the team behind Handies Douzo.

I reached out to them last year regarding their Montrose plans. No one responded.

I also emailed reporters at Eater Houston, Houston Chronicle, Houston Food Finder, and others about this in early October of last year. Out of all the publications, I thought Eater would report this - it's the kind of information they typically report even if restaurants or bars choose not to comment until ready to announce on their own timeline. 

The chefs-owners of Handies Douzo and Kokoro seem to have a handful of other projects in the works.

In addition to this one, there's:

• one in planning on Washington Ave (previously reported by Eater as Fuku, but the publication never published an update of the tentative new name Aiko)

• one possibly still planned for Stomping Grounds (Garden Oaks) named Sora Sushi

• one in planning for the Autry Park mixed-use development.

Edited by IntheKnowHouston
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What’s the plan for the large shopping strip next to this place (3939 Montrose)? Seems like it’s mostly vacant, with a few tenants still left. Timberline Gym has long since relocated further south, and Canopy has been closed for almost 3 years. Would love to see an exciting new development in that spot as well.

In some ways, I feel like the respect and admiration longtime Houstonians have for Montrose is lost on Newstonians. Folks new to our city keep hearing about how great Montrose is, but unless you’re hip to all the new upcoming development that’s posted on this site, it’s really just a lot of vacant lots and uninspired strip malls.

For example, I don’t think any Newstonian would be more impressed by the way lower Westheimer looks as compared to something more put together like Heights Mercantile or Heights MKT. Montrose Collective, among others, will certainly change that. It’ll just take a while.

Edited by clutchcity94
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  • The title was changed to 4005 Montrose Blvd.
  • 2 weeks later...
1 hour ago, hindesky said:

When I first moved to Montrose it was one of the few coffee shops around, now we have about a bunch of them within a half mile from where I live.

The way I see it you can never have enough coffee shops.  Especially if they offer beer 🍻 

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3 hours ago, nate4l1f3 said:

I never knew this was once a coffee shop. Looking at the pics it looked like my type of spot! I could be way off base but the interior had a NY coffee shop vibe off of the pics that I’ve seen. Has anyone visited it before? 

As a kid my parents always got coffee here. It was a Dietrick's, there were two. Here and where upper hand salon is on Westheimer next to Lanier. I loved that one more because it had a fountain you could run through at the time haha. 

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 2/3/2022 at 2:36 PM, clutchcity94 said:

I see a dumpster parked out front, and looks like a permit was pulled last September by Heights’ sushi hand roll restaurant Handies Douzo.

Are they opening a second location?


What site is this, to locate permit info?

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  • 1 month later...
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  • 4 weeks later...

I met one of the co-owners (Patrick) who said they hope to open by the end of December. He said it was Handies Douzo like the other one they own on 6th St. He mentioned the biggest problem they have been having is taggers. Newly painted and new asphalt. Looks like bar seating only from what I could see.



Edited by hindesky
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  • The title was changed to Handies Douzo - 4005 Montrose Blvd.
3 hours ago, hindesky said:

I use an iMac with the Safari browser and that pop doesn't show that for me. When I click on that it just shows "Share" only.

Well, maybe if you were a better contributor to the forum, then they would turn on the report feature for you 😜

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