The business boom in the Bellaire-West University area has struck Weslayan Plaza, which is experiencing more “comings” than “goings” in the tough retail leasing business — despite the news this week that one of its longtime restaurant tenants is departing.
Panda Garden, which has operated in the plaza for a quarter-century, announced Monday on its website that Wednesday (Jan. 23) will be the last day of service before it regroups to open in the summer in the Home Depot center on the West Loop.
A source at Panda Garden tells Essentials that the rising cost of the lease — and takeout and delivery now accounting for the greatest part of profits — is leading to the change. The restaurant is likely to become more of a fast casual, counter service concept at its new location rather than a full-service, dine-in eatery, with a few tables and the same menu, the source said.
With freeway construction along the West Loop at I-69 projected to last through the spring of 2022, the cost of leases in the area is reportedly at a low point.
With three small spaces out of 34 available, the center is 91 percent leased. A rundown on other activity in Weslayan Plaza:
•The 15,423-square-foot space vacated by Office Depot has been leased by HomeGoods, Regency Center’s Lauren Heimann confirmed, but no opening date has been set yet. HomeGoods is part of the T.J.Maxx company and specializes in a fast-turnover stock of discounted home furnishings and accessories.
•Luna Grill has signed a lease for the former Menchie’s yogurt spot and adjacent space on the northwest side of the center and is finalizing space requirements, according to a source in the California-based company. The restaurant is a healthy-eating, Mediterranean fast casual concept that recently expanded to the Dallas market. It’s touted for its weekly Kids Eat Free nights and catering.
•Construction is well underway toward an early summer opening of Torchy’s Tacos, taking part of the old Chuck E. Cheese location closest to Bissonnet Street, according to Heimann.
•The remainder of the Chuck E. Cheese site will be occupied by Sola Salon Studios, its 10th location in the Houston area. The company leases and builds out individual salon spaces to sublease to stylists and other beauty professionals.
What about Randalls?
Meantime, the rumored demise of Randalls, the center’s largest tenant, is just social media gossip, according to the grocer’s public affairs and communications manager.
“Because we’ve closed stores, there are always rumors,” Connie Yates told Essentials. “There are no plans at this time for any of those stores” — the Weslayan Plaza, Bellaire and Vanderbilt Square locations — she said.
— Charlotte Aguilar