In and Out

The Opening and Closing of the Week: Nov. 7-13

Finger-licking good

By Katharine Shilcutt November 7, 2014

Each Friday, Gastronaut rounds up the most notable openings and closings of the week.

You know a restaurant closing is big news when it merits its own post on the Gays of Houston Tumblr page, which is what happened this week when TQLA suddenly shut its doors. November 10 would have been the fourth year of business for the Washington Avenue cantina, as Phaedra Cook points out at the Houston Press. Though it opened with a big splash back in 2010, TQLA never quite seemed to catch on despite excellent margaritas (bolstered by a massive tequila selection, as befitting its name) and interesting Southwestern takes on Tex-Mex favorites.

As countless other publications have pointed out this week, the shuttering of TQLA follows hot on the heels of several other big-name closures, among them Coppa Ristorante and Polovina. Plenty of people will suggest that this trend is Washington Avenue's death knell, but this has long been a thoroughfare in flux as outdated or unsuccessful concepts give way to new favorites: Houstonians once thought they couldn't get by without The Daily Grind until former employee Max Gonzalez opened his own coffee shop, Catalina, a few blocks away. Beer bars like Liberty Station and cocktail bars like Julep have replaced the club scene of years past. And concepts such as Max's Wine Dive and Molina's continue to be as popular as the day they opened.

Speaking of openings, yet another fried chicken joint has opened in the Heights—this one named after the notorious Texas whorehouse busted up by none other than noted Houston television personality and blue-lensed glasses advocate Marvin Zindler. The Chicken Ranch officially opened today, posting its hours online in a Twitter update. Though the concept is as-yet unproven in Houston, the Chronicle's Greg Morago notes that owners Joshua Martinez and Paul Sedillo are already scouting for an Austin spot for The Chicken Ranch's second location (this despite its focus on Houston-centric fried chicken and other dishes). Maybe concentrate on one thing at a time, guys.

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