Tiny Boxwood’s Restaurant Coming To Old JMH Building

March 31, 2010

The old JMH grocery store will soon be vacant no more.

Landscape architecture firm Thompson + Hansen closed yesterday to purchase the property at Edloe Street and Rice Boulevard. Gregg Thompson, owner of the company, didn’t return messages seeking comment, but he confirmed the news yesterday evening in an email to West University Place City Manager Michael Ross.

“We closed on JMH late this afternoon,” Thompson wrote in the email. “I’d love to visit with you and any other city officials about our plans, at your convenience.”

Thompson — also a resident of West U. — is a co-owner of Thompson + Hansen, a landscape architecture firm that specializes in garden design, installation and maintenance. The company also runs a popular cafe called Tiny Boxwood’s that serves simple, fresh breakfasts and lunches of soups, salads and sandwiches. The cafe offers an upscale-gormet dinner menu.

Councilman George Boehme said that Michael Freeman, former owner of the JMH building, approached him before the sale to tell him the news that Thompson + Hansen planned to purchase the JMH building as a new location for Tiny Boxwood’s.

“I think it’s fabulous that a restaurant is going to go in down there. Tiny Boxwood’s is extremely popular with West U. moms … I think this is a big, big plus,” Boehme said. “This is a big deal in West U. — People all want to know what’s happening to JMH.”

Freeman was not immediately available for comment. He said he’s not trying to avoid commenting, but he’s been too busy over the past few days to talk.

News of the sale was a surprise to West U. City Planner Debbie Scarcella, who said it may have been advantageous for the buyers to approach the city before closing on the property to learn about parking requirements, especially if a restaurant may go into the building.

The land is currently in a commercial zone, and a restaurant would be “allowed by right,” Scarcella said. But a parking lot at the rear of the building is actually in a residential zone, although it has earned an exception to be used as a parking lot through 2020.

But even with that rear lot, it could be difficult to find enough room on site for all of the parking spots that the zoning code requires for a high-traffic use like a restaurant, Scarcella said. The code requires either 10 parking spots for each 1,000 square feet, or one parking spot for each three seats in the restaurant — Whichever number is higher. So the parking requirement could limit the number of seats the proprietors can offer in the restaurant.

“No one has called to ask about specifics like parking,” she said. “I sure hope they do soon, because that may be an issue … That’s a lot of things they really should be figuring out now, not later.”

Also, because the property is located so close to West University Elementary, the restaurant would be prohibited from serving alcohol unless owners apply for and earn an exception from the city of West U. and the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission.

InstantNewsWestu Staff

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