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No Mo' Java

Another one bites the dust: Neighborhood coffee house abruptly shuts down

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River Oaks Coffee House, Exterior, June 2012
The River Oaks Coffee House abruptly closed this week. Photo by Karen Burd
River Oaks Coffee House closes August 2013
A sign taped on the door informed customers that the coffee house was closed. Photo by Marcy de Luna
River Oaks Coffee House, Interior, June 2012
The cozy interior — and free Internet — beckoned neighborhood regulars.   Photo by Karen Burd
River Oaks Coffee House, Exterior, June 2012
River Oaks Coffee House closes August 2013
River Oaks Coffee House, Interior, June 2012

Regulars at the River Oaks Coffee House were surprised this week to find it closed. A sign on the door of the neighborhood java spot at 3601 Westheimer, in a small strip center with Kai Spa, Fred Astaire Dance Studios and the recently opened River Oaks Donuts, apologized for "our prompt departure."

“They were open one day and the next morning the place was empty,” an employee at the donut shop told CultureMap. The coffee shop's owners could not be reached for comment.

The quaint coffee house — appreciated more for its coziness and friendly, attentive staff than for its pricier-than-average, lukewarmly-reviewed caffeinated brews ("not good, but not bad either" seems to be the general consensus) — drew a loyal crowd.

The clientele leaned towards neighborhood regulars plus a mix of students and professionals capitalizing on free Internet access and a subdued, easy-to-work-undisturbed atmosphere. The interior, with slate floors, rustic walls, soft lighting and the faint sound of classical music playing in the background, could never be confused with a Starbucks.

Regulars enjoyed coffee served in an oversized cup with a saucer and the menu of pastries and snacks. The website even had a camera so you could see if a table was open.

Abbreviated hours of operation, possibly foreshadowing things to come, went into effect at the beginning of this year leaving night owls out in the cold as closing time was pushed up to 5 p.m.

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