Antone’s To Close

This is terrible news:

In a world of Subways and Blimpies, one Houston sandwich shop has held its own, but not for much longer. Sadly we’re hearing Antone’s Import Company in the 800 block of Taft and 8100 block of Kirby the will serve up its last sandwich New Year’s Eve.

Loyal customers received the news Tuesday. The Houston eatery has been in the midst of a family legal spat over the rights to the popular sandwich chain following the death of Mrs. Antone last spring.

Besides indulging in one last po’boy, patrons can buy furniture, old familiar knick-knacks and other merchandise.

The Original Antone’s Import Company opened in 1962 when the late Jalal Antone opened his first grocery store and began making sandwiches. The chain sells more than 100,000 sandwiches every month.

Only the family owned locations on Taft and Kirby will close Wednesday. You’ll still be able to buy Antone’s po’boys at certain convenience stores.

The beauty of Antone’s was the stores. Buying a sandwich at a Stop-n-Go is a piss-poor substitute.

Happy New Year

Happy New YearDon’t expect any posts here until tomorrow, as I’m getting ready to ring in the New Year.

It’s going to be a Mucky Duck evening, because the combination of food/music/locale just couldn’t be beaten.

It was a tough choice, though, with Bleu Edmonson and Randy Rogers playing at the Firehouse.

But the Firehouse is too far away, and this is no night to be driving (I can walk to the Duck).

Anyway, I hope you readers all have a festive time tonight, and a most excellent 2004. Be careful on the streets if you’re out and about — and if you’re boozing, don’t drive.

See ya on the other side. Thanks for making 2003 a fun blogging year.

Number Five!

There was another auto/train accident today.

That’s five auto/train accidents so far on the new rail line, and the thing doesn’t even officially open until Thursday.

Connelly’s right — stunts like this are a bargain.

Meanwhile, Metro’s plan to shut down its midtown trolley service and force its patrons onto rail (no matter the inconvenience) is being resisted by the trolley riders. I’ll be surprised if they prevail, because Metro’s resources are going to be stretched way too thin once the train boondoggle starts operating and its ridership falls below estimates.

World-Class Mess

The New York Times has picked up the story that nobody in Houston seems to know or care about — the impending 59/527 Spur shutdown (link from Rob Booth):

Jen Marie Rau should love it when work crews tear up the city’s streets and its spaghetti tangle of freeways, sending motorists into a dither: her family business, Key Maps, has been charting greater Houston’s highways and byways since 1957.

But Ms. Rau is helping lead a neighborhood coalition fuming over roadwork that will choke off a downtown spur and could funnel an additional 80,000 cars a day through historic Houston neighborhoods.
Work has been put off until after the Super Bowl here on Feb. 1, but then, she said, “all will be gridlock.”

True enough. The NY Times then goes on to take a (cheap) shot at the Bush Administration for its management of a provision in a highway bill that has nothing at all to do with this particular mess (because that’s what the NY Times does).

Callie has actually been following this issue for quite some time, and I’ve posted occasionally on it (most recently on TXDOT’s lies about the project).

And now, it’s made a national newspaper.

Still, I suspect quite a few motorists are going to be surprised (and angry) when they’re trying to get out of downtown, stuck on the residential bottlenecks in my neighborhood, wondering just who the hell is responsible for the mess:

Outside the immediate area, the reaction has been muted, at least so far. “We’re still convinced that a stunning number of people have no idea what’s coming,” said Robin A. Holzer of the West Alabama Quality of Life Coalition, which brought the lawsuit over the spur.

Bill White, to his credit, actually sounds more sensible than anyone in municipal government so far:

But relief for the protesters may yet come. Bill White, the mayor-elect, who won a runoff on Dec. 6, said he would review the road plans. “We want to build in two steps,” Mr. White said recently, “so we will not divert traffic through residential areas.”

Unfortunately, there’s just not much the new mayor can do. TXDOT is going to move on this project, and has effectively told the city to deal with it (hence the retarded reversible lanes city workers have nearly finished building on West Alabama). I’ll be impressed if Mr. White can get them to reconsider.

Connelly On A Roll

The Houston Press‘s Richard Connelly seems now to have been given the Hair Balls column in its entirety — which makes one who doesn’t understand the ways of corporate alternative media wonder why his old column was taken away — and he’s all wound up about the recent auto/train crashes on the light-rail line:

The casualty-free street violence gets a thumbs-up from professional stuntman Mark Anthony Chavarria, a Houstonian who’s done stunts in Walker, Texas Ranger and Pearl Harbor and who will be the Mexican soldier killing Billy Bob Thornton’s Davy Crockett if The Alamo ever gets released.

Trying to re-create Metro’s weekly Jerry Bruckheimer carnage would be expensive, he says. “Doing a stunt like that would take at least a week of prep time,” he says. “You probably wouldn’t want to have the train hit the actual car because of budget reasons — you’d cheat it by dragging a crunched car in front of the rail car.”

If you did it the no-holds-barred way of Houston’s drivers — having someone actually behind the wheel as the crash occurs — costs go up further. “If you got a guy in the car, basically you’d be asking him, ‘What’s it worth to you?’ He’d probably get $2,500 to $5,000 for it,” he says.

Elsewhere in the same column, Connelly describes Houston’s efforts to create a pedestrian-only entertainment zone downtown (it’s not working out so well) and he visits with a KKK member.

And here’s the beginning of a column on the Aeros:

On a recent Friday night — like most nights when the Houston Aeros play a home game — the new $235 million Toyota Center downtown can seem like the most expensive mausoleum ever built.

Ouch.

Dude’s on a roll this week. And more Connelly definitely makes for a better Houston Press.