Monday, August 22, 2016

Soon to be Relished: River Oaks Turf War between Chuy's and the Bird & Bear Successor

The coming fight over the former Bird & Bear territory 

Highly Anticipated: Face-off over scarce parking between Chuy's and the new Relish 

HBJ reported last week, based on a locally-sourced press release or two, that RELISH FINE FOODS will soon be making its move from San Felipe to Westheimer, with a slight renaming being part of its re-invention and rejuvenation in a larger space. The fine will dropped, while the food will be subsumed into the first component of the new tag line: RESTAURANT & BAR. What happened with the pun that graced the old moniker? What are we asked to relish with the 'fine food' clarification gone? Not to mention that there is already a heavily relished restaurant with a lively bar at the other end of the parking lot.
But it is what it is, or rather will be, and this is what the former bird and bear haunt will hitherto be known for:

2810 Westheimer Rd, Houston, TX 77098 
The original San Felipe location was to shutter August 20, but the new corner with linear but bi-directional patio space on Westheimer at Kirby (see above) won't be ready to serve immediately. Once that happens, expect motorized warfare to erupt on the adjoining paved area framed by palms, oaks, and hedges.
Relish build-out status as of August 2016 
In parking-poor environs, one establishment's demise is another's gain in accessibility, and so it was with Chuy's when the Bear & Bird duo moved on to greener pastures. But that fortuitous circumstance is about to end.

Or take the Halal Guys, for example. Starbucks, TruMeals, and snap kitchen didn't do and last so well in that spot, and its location and dearth of parking was one of the problems. The high-hype and high-volume Halal Guys came in with a splash and snarled traffic on the Shepherd Plaza curve (officially known as Farnham Street). But the problem is no more. Now their mostly wheel-bound customer base has the use of the parking lot in front of the 59 Diner as an overflow drive-in.

Shuttered 59 Diner on Shepherd Curve (Farnham at S Shandman St) 

The 24-7-59 diner that had not been locked for decades (or so the story went) remains shuttered after the fracas over paying its bills and making payroll earlier this year. It sports thick shiny chains with padlock to complement the still-shiny front doors whose locks had apparently become nonfunctional. Or perhaps the keys to the eat-all-day-and-night spot serving energy-depleted party-goers, Rice students pulling all-nighters, early birds and sorts of other clientele got lost for lack of occasion to use them. But the Halal operation is the better for it. At least until the Alcaliente folks rekindle the gas grills and get things going again.

With Chuy v Relish, though, it's different. With both soon to be open and running their kitchens at full blast and taps at full throttle, expect a stand-off with moving parts and no clear victor for a while. Their respective fans will face off against each other on the River Oaks Village gray, so to speak.
Chuy may have some walk-in regulars from across Westheimer at West Ave, but the bulk of its fan base arrives by car. And that bulk is big. Enough to absorb the village gray in its entirety, especially at peak happy times.

Westheimer Rd at Kirby Drive / River Oaks Area / West Ave

Relish Restaurant and Bar prior to opening

And as for the RELISH aficionados from San Felipe, they had the benefit of ample drive-up parking at their original eatery. They won't be pleased when they encounter a car lot full of vehicles approaching the new Relish Restaurant & Bar that has been touted as being twice as big as the prior one, not counting the meager supply of parking slots.

Large and boisterous crowds (not shown) regularly relish 
first-rate Tex-Mex with ranch-dressing salsa 
in the amiable company of Elvis Kitsch  

Have some Green Chile of the Season, but first say hello to The King 
Don't be lonesome tonight, love me tender, forever 
Dining room with cove: Authentic Tex-Mex at the faux fireside with the faux brick wall
... or perhaps it's a Tequila Sunrise display 

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