Business

Remaining food vendors evicted from rebranded Railway Heights Market in Houston

The Heights-area development opened to much fanfare in 2021 as a vibrant food hall. The three-story property now has only one food-and-beverage tenant.

JunctionHTX
JunctionHTX
The former Railway Heights Market at 8200 Washington Ave. was rebranded as JunctionHTX in November 2023.

What started two years ago as a bustling food hall in the popular Heights area of Houston now has no food vendors at all.

The former Railway Heights Market at 8200 Washington Ave., which was renamed and rebranded last month, evicted its four remaining food vendors on the second floor last week, according to Pleshette Drummond, owner of The Funnel Cake House. She said she and the other three tenants received a group text message last Friday informing them that Saturday and Sunday would be their final days of operation.

Drummond said Tuesday that the three-story, modern-looking building situated near a railroad track now has one remaining food-and-beverage vendor, Junction Beer Garden HTX, which opened in November and now is the anchor tenant on the ground floor. There also is a church and exercise business that continue to operate on the property, she said.

"It was very saddening and disheartening the way everything played out," said Drummond, who had operated her business at Railway Heights Market since April. "I had very high expectations. It just didn't go the way I expected it to go."

Perhaps the same could be said for the development at large, at least to this point. It opened to much fanfare in 2021 as part of a project originally led by Company of Nomads, which also had opened the Bravery Chef Hall downtown, according to the Houston Chronicle. The property was sold at some point to Chicago-based Easy Park, which now serves as the landlord, according to Junction Beer Garden HTX.

Drummond said the venue, which is on a 157,000-square foot property valued at more than $7.9 million by the Harris Central Appraisal District, was rebranded last month as JunctionHTX. Customer traffic had gradually slowed before that and the lineup of food vendors also had dwindled, according to Drummond, who said community members "actually thought we were closed" after the name change.

The local property manager for Easy Park did not respond to a Tuesday email seeking comment about the recent changes, what precipitated them and what the future holds for the development.

"Junction is merely the downstairs tenant of the space and did not have any involvement in tenant leases," the beer garden said in a statement. "Junction Beer Garden HTX will continue to operate as a beer garden with an expansive outdoor footprint offering specialty cocktails, beer, wine and special curated seasonal events. Junction will be looking to add a new food provider in light of the closures of the upstairs food vendors."

The other food businesses that were evicted last week were Meat + Cheese Project, Meshiko Sushi and Mykuna, according to Drummond. The others did not respond to messages seeking comment.

Meat + Cheese Project is owned by Sunny Vohra, who previously operated Peaky Grinders upon the opening of Railway Heights Market. Meat + Cheese Project addressed its departure in a Friday Instagram post inviting customers to "join our eviction party."

"It's a shame that we were not given notice but at this time the former Railway Heights food hall has been shut down and no reason has been given to us," the burger business wrote in the post. "This place had so much potential and as someone who has been in this building since Day 1 and has helped keep this place alive, it's a shame I am being thrown out just like that along with all the other tenants."

Drummond said she thinks a "multitude of things" contributed to the Railway Heights Market fizzling out as a once-vibrant food hall, but not it's quirky location near the Timbergrove neighborhood, where it is situated among a convergence of Katy Road, Hempstead Road and Washington Avenue. She also called it a "beautiful" property that offers stunning views of the city from the third floor, which is currently vacant.

Drummond also said concession gigs for the University of Houston football team and Texas Southern University basketball teams have helped keep The Funnel Cake House afloat. It has a loyal customer following, she said, and she plans to relaunch it.

She's just not sure where yet.

"Everything happened so suddenly, I haven't really had an opportunity to think on those lines right now," Drummond said. "I've just been trying to get all of my equipment and everything out before the doors were locked and we couldn't."