Roland Laurenzo has confirmed a rumor first reported this morning by the Chronicle's Greg Morago that his El Tiempo 1308 Cantina would soon close, to be replaced by an apartment complex. In a short press release, Laurenzo said simply: "1308 may, and probably will, be moving next year (first quarter sometime) due to the fact that the land underneath the restaurant is being sold by our landlord for a multistory apartment project development."
El Tiempo, a locally-owned chain of restaurants from the family of Mama Ninfa Laurenzo, she of Ninfa's fame, was named one of Houston's best Tex-Mex restaurants in the July 2014 issue of Houstonia. The 1308 Cantina location in particular, named for its address at 1308 Montrose Blvd., became a popular staple of the Montrose party and dining scene when it opened in 2006.
Although Pizaro's Pizza is moving into a long-awaited second location just a block away at Montrose and Waugh, it seems there are more restaurants leaving this stretch of Montrose Blvd. these days than being built. Little Bigs is pulling up its stakes and moving into the Museum District, while Hollywood Vietnamese & Chinese is—like 1308 Cantina—being replaced by a mid-rise. Perhaps we're seeing an organic creation of market/consumer-dictated residential and commercial districts, as more Montrose restaurants flock to the ever-evolving Lower Westheimer corridor while more high-density housing is built along the streets that flank it. Who needs zoning?
Either way, this news doesn't mean El Tiempo will no longer have a presence in Montrose at all—it just may not have its dual patios anymore.
"We hope to move into another spot generally in the same neighborhood within a mile or so, if we can do so," says Laurenzo, "and we do have a couple prospective spots, but too soon to announce any prospects."