Shore thing: Kemah, which attracts a lot of tourists, and League City, which attracts a lot of residents, get a lot of attention. But what about Clear Lake Shores, the city in between?
A plan to make that city a destination in its own right, which has been years in the making, is getting closer to reality. At 10 a.m. Saturday on the corner of FM 2094 and Clear Lake Road, officials will gather for a groundbreaking for the construction of the first phase of the Town Center project, reports Ronnie Richards, president of the Clear Lake Shores Economic Development Corp. The organization’s board of directors has organized the event.
The Town Center is planned for an area along FM 2094 between the fast-growing League City and the Kemah Boardwalk near state Highway 146. The project encompasses a 9-acre area with all new roads and shared city-provided public parking. The first phase includes landscaping, sidewalks and streetlights along Clear Lake Road.
The Town Center property is zoned for mixed-use, will be pedestrian friendly and is ready for development, officials say. Waterfront sites and vacant or underused buildings are available for restaurants and small retail.
Voters in May 2010 approved a proposition allowing the city to move forward on a town center project without borrowed money.
The estimated cost of the project’s first phase is $435,000 and could take seven years to complete, according to reports. The Town Center project was conceived after Hurricane Ike struck five years ago, inflicting heavy damage on the city.
For information visit ClearLakeShores-tx.gov/TownCenter or contact the city administrator at 281-334-0697.
Dishing it: Look for an official opening Thursday of Zoёs Kitchen, 1501-C W. Bay Area Blvd. in the Baybrook Village shopping center. The Mediterranean fast-casual eatery serves up such signature dishes as chicken kebabs, chicken rollu-ps and hummus, along with gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan options. Other menu items include salads, sandwiches and fresh sides such as no-mayo slaw, potato salad and braised white beans with rosemary, among others. Zoё Cassimus founded the chain in 1995. The Baybrook Village eatery marks the 102nd for the chain. The new eatery has seating for 81 patrons and also offers a patio.
To celebrate the opening, Zoёs launched a Facebook promotion to give away 500 meals at the Baybrook Village restaurant. Visit www.facebook.com/ZoesKitchen to enter the contest. Zoёs is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. The new eatery also plans to offer beer and wine.
It’s a date: Fast on the shopping cart wheels of its Kemah opening, discounter grocer Aldi has set dates for a ribbon-cutting ceremony and the opening of its Webster store, 3100 FM 528. Aldi plans a ribbon-cutting ceremony, beginning at 8:45 a.m. Dec. 3, to which the public is invited to attend and sample the chain’s exclusive brands. The Webster store officially opens Dec. 5. Germany-based Aldi opened its Kemah store a month ago. Aldi sells only about 1,400 of the fastest-moving products, mostly under its private label and for prices 50 percent less than traditional supermarkets. Smaller inventory and stores mean lower rent and electricity costs, Aldi officials said.
The grocer also encourages shoppers to bring their own bags and requires a 25 cent deposit to use a cart. When shoppers return the cart, they get their quarter back. The system cuts down on the labor of collecting carts left in the parking lot.
Also, a typical Aldi store stays open only during the most popular shopping hours, which depends on location. Staying open later adds to labor costs, officials say. The Webster store hours are from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Sunday. Aldi, which has grown without merger or acquisition, has more than 1,200 U.S. stores in 32 states. In the past several years, Aldi has added about 50 to 80 new stores each year. No word whether Aldi has plans to move farther south in the county. Stay tuned.
Bye Thai: Plans to bring a Thai restaurant to the island’s downtown have gone cold.
Some people, whose identities weren’t immediately available, were in talks to open the Thai eatery in the building formerly occupied by Courtyard Café, 2519 Market St.
Ladislav and Terry Klos earlier this year closed the European-style Courtyard Cafe after 10 years in business. They wanted to spend time with grandchildren and pursue other interests.
The couple had planned to lease the building out to a restaurant operator and they were in serious talks. But the agreement fell through, Ladislav Klos said today.
Some islanders have long lamented the lack of Thai cuisine on the island. Some argue that the island’s diverse population and the people who work at the University of Texas Medical Branch could certainly support a Thai restaurant.
Just why the Thai restaurant operators backed out is unclear.
But in brighter news, Klos promises a return of Courtyard Café in about a year when some of his younger family members immigrate to the United States from the Czech Republic. Want to talk about it? Visit Buzz Blog, galvnews.com.
Buzz blooper: Sam Gandhi’s name was misspelled in Tuesday’s column.
Laura Elder is a reporter for The Daily News. Biz Buzz appears Tuesdays and Thursdays. Email your tips and suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.