President George H.W. Bush's favorite barbecue joint is making plans to return to central Houston. Otto's Barbecue & Hamburgers, the beloved restaurant that closed its original location on Memorial Drive in 2010, has plans to build a new location on Durham Drive, Swamplot reports.
Buried 94 pages into the agenda for the June 21 meeting of the Houston Planning Commission, the plans call for Otto's to build two structures at the former site of Luke's Icehouse on the corner of Durham and Lillian Street. The first is a 1,722-square-foot catering kitchen with an oversized smokehouse along Durham that has been "designed as point of interest for the area as visual display for the meat smoker . . . [and] will create a landmark for the area intended to entice both vehicular and pedestrian traffic."
An almost 3,300-square-foot restaurant will sit next to the catering kitchen. The renderings don't show any interior details, but it will revive the restaurant that opened nearby in 1951.
In order to bring the plans to fruition, Otto's is petitioning the commission for certain exemptions from city requirements involving how far buildings need to be from the street. In exchange, Otto's will building a pedestrian-friendly courtyard along Durham, pave an alley for easier access to its proposed 37 parking spaces, and install sidewalks and bike racks.
Even if the Planning Commission approves the plans, it could still be a year or more before the new Otto's opens. When it does, its proprietors will find a the barbecue scene has become more competitive in the eight-plus years they've been away, courtesy of places like Pinkerton's Barbecue, Beaver's, and the recently opened Henderon & Kane general store. The imminent arrival of Truth Barbeque in the former J. Black's space on Washington Avenue will only add to the mix. Otto's will need to trade on more than nostalgia to win over new fans.