HOUSTON RESTAURANT CLOSINGS TO KNOW RIGHT NOW

Like any year, Houston’s dining scene experiences a cycle of new restaurant openings and closings, and as Houston restaurants get into the groove of the new year, sadly, not all are keeping their doors open. While some are shuttering for good after experiencing financial struggles in the industry, others are closing to make way for new and exciting new restaurants. Here are the Houston restaurant closures you need to know about right now.

Know of a permanent Houston restaurant closure that’s not on this list? Drop us a line at [email protected].

Damian’s Cucina Italiana

The Midtown restaurant, known for its upscale Italian dishes and charming chef’s table, plans to close its doors on August 17, 2024, after 41 years in service. Damian’s owners Bubba and Nancy Butera, Judy Mandola, and Johnny B. Mandola announced the closure on the restaurant’s Instagram, thanking their loyal customers for their support. Johnny Mandola, the general manager, revealed in an interview with Culturemap Houston, that the restaurant never fully recovered from the COVID pandemic and the resulting changes in the dining world. Mandola said he wanted to ensure the restaurant closed with dignity by paying its employees in full and hosting its restaurant’s private dining events. Mandola says he and Bubba Butera also wanted to spend more time, possibly for the last time, with their loyal customers.

July

The Canary

The owners of this Garden Oaks/Oak Forest neighborhood bar and grill announced on Instagram on Tuesday, July 23 that it is permanently closing its doors just months after opening. The bright yellow Canary officially opened in late December, boasting daily drink specials, steak nights, a patio, and a backyard pool, which it officially opened to the public in June. The bar gave little explanation for the closure but shared its gratitude for the community and shared memories in the post. Eater Houston has reached out to the Canary for more info.

Holman Draft Hall

After seven years, the Midtown beer hall is closing on Monday, July 1, to make way for new restaurant, Solarium, which is expected to open in August. Holman will offer a series of happy hour specials and events during its last weekend, including $4 on select beers, $6 frozen drinks, half-off glasses of wines, outdoor games, and live DJ sets.

June

Muse

The Montrose/River Oaks restaurant known for its sleek and sexy decor and live entertainment quietly closed in June, and there are already plans for its replacement. The Kennedy, a 7,000-square-foot cocktail lounge, restaurant, and piano bar, is slated to open in its place later this summer.

Comalito

Underbelly Hospitality’s newest taqueria Comalito closed on June 16 after seven months, though not for good, according to its Instagram. The taco hub, which opened in the Houston Farmers Market in November with chefs Luis Robledo Richards and Atzin Santos at the helm, said in a social media post that it was closing the recent location and is now “on the hunt” for a new space. “We hope to be turning the trompo back on and serving up your favorite tacos again soon,” the post stated, noting that diners should stay tuned for their next chapter. Meanwhile, the family-owned Mexican restaurant and tamale shop Alamo Tamales will take Comalito’s place later this summer.

This is one of numerous shifts (and closings) for the hospitality group in recent years. Pastore, Underbelly’s Regent Square Italian restaurant, closed in March after being unable to “sustain the momentum necessary to operate at its caliber.” And last year, Underbelly closed its Downtown restaurant GJ Tavern and relocated Wild Oats from the former space of Comalito to Spring Branch. Underbelly’s remaining restaurants include Georgia James, Wild Oats, and its two locations of Underbelly Burger.

Buddy’s and Kiki

These two Montrose gay bars which share a building closed during the first week of June, ahead of the city’s Pride month celebrations, Houston Public Media reports. Drag performer Sean Saunders told the outlet that the owners informed staff on June 4 that they would not be paid for work already performed, because they didn’t have the money. Within two days, the bars were closed. Employees have set up a GoFundMe for help with lost wages. The bars were reportedly facing lawsuits related to a customer who was overserved and patrons who were referred to using a slur by bodyguards.

Xin Chao

This Vietnamese restaurant shared an Instagram saying it would close on June 8. “Crawfish season is coming to an end and we decided to close our doors,” it said by way of explanation. Chef and owner Tony Nguyen opened in 2020 with Christine Ha, and earned a nomination at the James Beard Awards for Best Chef: Texas in 2023. Ha departed last year.

Richmond Arms

This brewpub seems to have quietly shuttered. A report in the Houston Chronicle notes that its license expired late in 2023, its phone lines are closed, and its website has been taken down.

Low Tide Kitchen & Bar

This Spring Branch seafood restaurant serve its final meal on June 2, according to a report in CultureMap Houston, following false reports that it closed in April. In a post on social media, the owners said they were working to shuffle staff into positions at their other businesses, but anyone looking to hire should reach out.

Juanitos

After a 34 year run, this Mexican restaurant in Pearland closed its doors on June 1. The owners made the announcement in a Facebook post, writing, “After an amazing 34 years, we have decided to sell our restaurant to our friends, Iguanas Ranas Cantina Pearland.”

May

Eau Tour

Beloved French restaurant Eau Tour announced that it will close and reopen as Milton’s, an American trattoria. The Rice Village restaurant announced through Instagram that it will serve its final brunch service on Sunday, June 2, before transforming into a new Italian restaurant. The Local Foods Group, which leads restaurants like Maximo and Lees Den, will also oversee Milton’s.

April

Urban South

The Urban South brewery announced its Houston closing on Instagram. The original New Orleans location will remain open, and the taproom — known for sour beers, colorful beverages, and a relaxed atmosphere — says that its brews will still be available across Houston through various distribution channels.

Prego

Longtime Italian restaurant Prego announced that its last day of service will be May 31, according to the Chron. Despite intentions to reopen in a new location at 5515 Kelvin, Prego revealed that those plans were canceled and that there are no plans to open elsewhere. The Italian restaurant was a fixture of the Rice Village community for more than four decades.

March

Pastore

Underbelly Hospitality’s Pastore will serve its last meal on Saturday, March 23. The Regent Square Italian restaurant, which was nominated for Best New Restaurant in the CultureMap Tastemaker Awards, was unable to “sustain the momentum necessary to operate at its caliber,” according to a press statement. The sudden closing follows James Beard award-winning chef Chris Shepherd’s departure from the restaurant group in 2022, and an ongoing revamp that launched the Spring Branch reopening of Wild Oats.

According to the statement, Underbelly Hospitality will maintain ownership of Pastore’s, and the building will be used as an event space operated by the hospitality group’s steakhouse Georgia James. The release stated that the hospitality group is exploring several options for the space, including developing a sustainable concept.

Eculent

Chef David Skinner’s tasting menu restaurant will serve its last meal at the end of March after a 10-year run. Skinner is revamping the restaurant and will re-open in coming months with meals focused on his interpretation of the Indigenous culinary traditions of North and South America. That includes a name change to Ishtia.

Harold’s in the Heights

Following a year of renovations to the century-old building Harold’s opened in 2013 with a focus on providing guests with Southern Hospitality, hand-crafted cocktails, and delicious Southern Cuisine. Known for its fried chicken, shrimp & grits, and award-winning sangria, Harold’s uses the freshest ingredients possible, doing business with numerous local and regional farmers so that its food & beverage menu is fresh and seasonal. Harold’s offers catering and has a food truck.

Dozier’s

After 67 years of operation in Fulshear, the longstanding barbecue joint will finish its last day of service on March 30. Founded in 1967 by Ed Dozier, who won the inaugural Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo Barbecue Cook-off that same year, the barbecue restaurant is known for its consistent offerings of the Texas Trinity — ribs, brisket, and sausage — and sides like coleslaw and macaroni and cheese. It was a hotspot for the former elite of D.C. and Hollywood, hosting Texas political figures such as President George H.W. Bush, according to the Houston Chronicle.

Chatter’s Cafe & Bistro

The Heights mainstay and seasoned Mediterranean cafe announced its plans to close in early March. The business opened in February 2004, serving Mediterranean dishes and neighborhood cafe-friendly plates like beef tenderloin kebabs, lasagna, and soups. Co-owner Lauren Mansoudi confirmed the restaurant’s closing to the Chron, but the restaurant hasn’t announced its official last day of service.

February

Dinette

After opening in July 2022, Dinette announced it will close its doors on February 4, 2024. The modern Vietnamese restaurant with tapas-style dishes from Jason Andaya and Raymond Chan didn’t share the reason for the closure, but did announce the bakery next door will also close. The owners plan to open a new restaurant in the space in the future.

Golfstrommen

This sustainable seafood restaurant from Top Chef and James Beard Award winner Paul Qui and chef Christopher Haatuft, who was working at Per Se in New York City when it was awarded the stars by Michelin, will serve its final meal on February 4. A press release says the concept will be reworked and expanded, then reopened at a date to be announced.

In 2015, Qui was arrested in Austin for assaulting his then-girlfriend and later sparked a national conversation on redemption narratives for chefs. He remains a controversial figure in the dining scene.

Alice Blue

Heights restaurant and bistro Alice Blue will officially close its doors following dinner service on Sunday, February 25, a rep announced on January 24. Claire Smith, the owner and a Houston restaurateur of more than 20 years, said in an emailed statement to Eater Houston that the decision to close is a personal one. “My lease on 19th Street is ending. My son is a Sophomore at Rice (my Alma mater) and the time seems right for enjoying life,” Smith wrote. “You never know, I may want to have a coffee shop one day. But for now, I will be watching all of the amazing things happening in the Houston Restaurant Scene.”

In celebration of Alice Blue’s last few weeks, a rep noted that Smith will host specials on customer favorites from the restaurant and its closed sister establishments (Shade and Canopy), including the chicken pot pie, lamb stew, and spinach salads.

Known for its wide-ranging menu of comforting breakfast, brunch, and dinner items, the 19th Street restaurant first opened as Alice Blue in 2017 after its owner Claire Smith rebranded the space from its previous restaurant, Shade, which opened in 2003.

January

Buffalo Bayou Brewing Company

This local brewery is closed — for now. The brewers were locked out by their landlord for nonpayment of rent on January 26, and issued a statement on social media that it was working to “settle our financial commitment with our landlords and return home to our beloved Sawyer Yards taproom.” It sounds like rent is only part of its problems — CutureMap Houston reports that the brewery also owes money to Frost Bank for a loan and to investors on the NextSeed crowdfunding platform. The landlord says the likelihood of the brewer’s owners meeting their terms to return to the building aren’t good.

Buffalo Bayou Brewing Company opened in 2011, with a mission to “take traditional beer styles and add untraditional elements.” It began a $14 million, three-story complex in 2017 that became its home in Sawyer Yards in 2018. It was among Eater Houston’s essential breweries.

Urban Eats

Washington Avenue cafe, gourmet market, and bistro Urban Eats will officially close its doors following Sunday brunch on January 28. The announcement comes after restaurant owners Levi Rollins and Eric Munoz sent out a plea to Houston diners on social media, asking for their support following some challenges that began at the height of the COVID pandemic.

In the January 17th posting, owners explained that the restaurant took on “substantial debts” during the pandemic to keep the business afloat and its staff employed, which were then only amplified by increasing costs of supplies, food, taxes, rent, and labor. The past year has been particularly difficult, which inspired Rollins and Munoz to share their experience in hopes of generating community support. “We are eager to serve you again, and hopefully not for the last time. Your support has been our heartbeat, and every bit counts right now. Let’s continue to celebrate the flavors that brought us together,” they wrote.

An outpouring of support from Houston diners followed, so much so that the restaurant owners were able to “pay our amazing team of 28, order inventory, prepare more food for our fans, stock our market shelves, and pay some past due bills,” according to a Houston Food Finder report. But it wasn’t enough to sustain the restaurant. Food Finder reported that the restaurant’s landlord terminated its lease because Rollins and Munoz’ both owed $150,000 in back rent and taxes — a debt that the landlord “feels like ... is too great to overcome.”

The owners said on Instagram they raised a portion of the amount due but not enough to cover the full amount. Now, the owners are going through the difficult process of selling its many remaining goods, kitchenware, and service items, much of it as a discount, as well as laying off staff — “the hardest part of this entire thing,” Rollins told Houston Food Finder. Nonetheless, Rollins and Munoz have been moved by the outpouring of support.

“You’ve filled our hearts,” they wrote in their Instagram post announcing the closure. “We invite you to join us for one last visit to say goodbye and enjoy a farewell meal. Please bear with us as we may not operate on a full menu as the final service approaches.”

Diners can continue to show support and say their final goodbyes through Sunday, January 28. Urban Eats is slated to officially close that day at 3 p.m. following its brunch service.

Picnik

The health-conscious Austin import Picnik quietly closed its Montrose Collective location on Sunday, January 21, following a stint of less than a year.

Picnik, which has two locations in Austin, generated lots of buzz in 2022 when it was first announced that it would open an outpost in Houston in the Montrose Collective mixed-use development. The restaurant has built a reputation for its diet-inclusive menu with options that are free of gluten, seed oil, peanuts, gluten, and refined sugar. But it seems that the turnout to the restaurant wasn’t enough to sustain the business. Culturemap Houston reported that a representative for Picnik said the “support from the community somehow did not equate to more longevity in the Houston market.” The restaurant will now shift gears to focus on its Austin locations but with the goal of one day returning to Houston, according to the rep.

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Dish Society — Tanglewood

The brunch and breakfast giant Dish Society closed its Galleria location in the Tanglewood area after nearly a decade. Culturemap Houston reports that its founder Aaron Lyons said he opted not to renew the lease of the space, which had become too small and needed too many renovations. The restaurant still has Houston locations in Katy, the Heights, the West University area, and Memorial, and one outpost in Austin.

Ingenious Brewing Company

The Humble brewery, known for its quirky, pucker-inducing sours and creative beer flavors, officially closed its doors on January 6. Ingenious owners and team members announced plans for the closure on its Facebook in December 2023, noting that the “consequential economic/sociologic changes” that the COVID-19 pandemic caused affected the brewery, resulting in significant financial losses. The brewery, which opened roughly six years ago, went out with a bang, with a party on its last day featuring raffles, barbecue, and sales of its remaining batches of beers.

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December 2023

Dak & Bop

The Korean fried chicken joint closed its doors at its 18th Street location on the last day of 2023, with its owners noting in a Facebook post that it would be opening its new location at its old digs in the Museum District. The restaurant is slated to open sometime in early 2024, serving extra crispy Korean fried chicken and a fusion of dishes, like bulgogi mac and cheese and kimchi fries.

Killen’s TMX

Killen’s TMX, the Tex-Mex sister of Ronnie Killen’s restaurants Killen’s Steakhouse and Killen’s BBQ, abruptly closed its doors on December 23 after roughly six years in business, according to its social media platforms. The Pearland restaurant, which opened in 2018, offered Tex-Mex staples like enchiladas, fajitas, brisket tamales, and queso, but closed after owner Ronnie Killen says he opted not to renew the release after the location experienced some challenges, according to a Culturemap report. But Killen has hinted that this won’t be the last diners see, or at least, taste Killen’s TMX. Killen plans to serve some of Killen’s TMX dishes at his other restaurants, like Killen’s in the Heights, which serves up Southern comfort dishes, and possibly at pop-up events at the other locations, according to Culturemap. Killen still owns multiple other restaurants in the Houston area, including Killen’s Burger, live fire steakhouse Killen’s STQ, Killen’s Steakhouse, and Killen’s BBQ.

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Local Foods — Tanglewood

Local Foods, the fast-casual favorite, closed its location at 5740 San Felipe Street on December 23. But with one closing comes another location. Restaurateur Benjy Levitt will open a new outpost of Local Foods at Tanglewood Local Foods & Market (1707 Post Oak Boulevard) in the new year.

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