Photo courtesy of Jimmy Choo/Instagram

Local favorite Houston Premium Outletshas exciting news for fashion-forward and price-conscious shoppers. The renowned luxury brand Jimmy Choo has recently opened its doors, bringing its signature high-end styles and accessories to Houston.

Shoppers will be delighted to find an extensive range of Jimmy Choo's coveted collection, including trendy shoes, chic bags, stylish eyewear, cute small leather goods, and other must-have accessories.

The luxury footwear brand hit the scene in the 1990s and quickly became a favorite of Princess Diana. Carrie Bradshaw and Sex in the City catapulted the shoe to a household name and the shoes became synonymous with femininity and luxury.

With more than 200 stores worldwide, Jimmy Choo is no stranger to the fashion scene. However, this outlet store marks its first in Houston, making its elevated shopping experience more accessible to a broader array of discerning buyers.

Savvy Houston shoppers will be thrilled to find top-notch designer pieces at prices that won't break the bank. Jimmy Choo joins other luxury brands at Houston Premium Outlets, such as Armani Outlet, Burberry, Tory Burch, Coach, and Cole Haan. It's the perfect excuse to make the journey to Houston Premium Outlets and stock up on summer wardrobe essentials.


Jimmy Choo

Photo courtesy of Jimmy Choo/Instagram

The Jimmy Choo boutique at Houston Premium Outlets includes shoes, bags, stylish eyewear, small leather goods, and other must-have accessories.

Jimmy Choo; Suite 955, near Armani Outlet; Houston Premium Outlets – (Suite 955, near Armani Outlet); 29300 Hempstead Rd. in Cypress.

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CultureMap Emails are Awesome

Award-winning Houston bar returns after short closure with big upgrades and exciting news

if i had a tail

Changes have come to Monkey’s Tail. The CultureMap Tastemaker Award-winning neighborhood bar in Lindale Park returned to service this weekend after an almost month-long closure for some behind the scenes renovations and upgrades.

Those changes are only the start. As it prepares to open a second location in Conroe next month (hopefully) and Grease Monkey, a new concept in the former Petrol Station space in the spring, Monkey’s Tail owner Jessie Gonzalez has made other changes, too.

First, the bar’s food truck is in the process of being replaced with a permanent kitchen that will take approximately six months to build. Second, beverage director Lainey Collum is stepping into the operations role formerly occupied by Steven Ripley, who will maintain a part-time consulting role on the food offerings at both bars.

“Monkey’s Tail has morphed into something different than what it started. It just keeps growing,” Gonzalez tells CultureMap. “We want things to flow better. If you want to open multiple locations, you have to have structure.”

He adds that he’s amazing that new people still visit the bar four years into its existing, coming from places as far away as Conroe and Katy. All of the changes are designed to deal with the growing crowds and plan for the future.

“It’s growing pains,” Collum adds. “The volume keeps getting bigger. It’s an amazing problem to have. How do we make the bar more functional to deal with that, so people don’t have super long waits?”

Physically, those structures start with improvements to the inner patio. It now features a U-shaped floating roof designed to provide more shade and protection from the rain than the umbrellas it replaces. The roof complements an outdoor bar and helps make the patio more comfortable. Adding new TVs mean Astros fans will be able to root for the team both indoors and outside during this year’s playoff run.

“We’re trying to get ourselves ready for patio season,” Collum explains. “We also do a big Christmas celebration, a Feliz Navidad thing with a big Christmas tree and tons of decorations. We want to blow it out as big as it can be.”

Similarly, the decision to replace the bar’s food food truck with a full kitchen reflects Gonzalez and Collum’s interests in serving more people more quickly. Monkey’s Tail’s weekend brunch service has become increasingly popular, and Monday’s steak night has doubled its revenue over the past couple of years.

“We’ve gone over 200 steaks a night,” Gonzalez says. “For a bar, it’s a lot of steak.”

While the kitchen is under construction, Monkey’s Tail will utilize guest food trucks. Elements, chef Zach McClendon’s traveling steak night pop-up that also operates the kitchen at Cottonwood, will take on steak night until the kitchen is operational.

On the personnel side, Collum is taking the lead on operations and being granted a partnership stake in the company. She brings a wide range of experiences to her role, including working as the assistant general manager at Hay Merchant, a bar manager at The Pass & Provisions, the beverage director for Prohibition, and a management role at Yauatcha, the stylish dim sum restaurant from the international Hakkasan Group. Now, she’s accepted the challenge of being an owner and applying some of those fine dining standards to a casual, come-as-you-are, neighborhood bar.

“I have a very varied background of all different types of places, but I do have a high end pedigree,” she says. “I switched over to a more casual concept, because in my mind, that’s where the bar world is going. Nothing against fine dining, it’s amazing, but as far as longevity goes, it’s tough.”

Collum’s most immediate responsibility is opening Monkey’s Tail’s second location in Conroe (2017 N. Frazier St.). Announced last year, it’s expected to open in October.

Conroe residents can expect the full Monkey's Tail menu — including wings, tacos, and the signature Chango Burger, along with all of its popular stirred, shaken, and frozen cocktails. Events such as steak night will also make the journey north. If Conroe proves to be successful, Gonzalez has his eye on other cities for additional locations, including Katy and Brenham.

Once Conroe is up and running, Collum will turn her attention to Grease Monkey. The project has been delayed for a variety of reasons, but is expected to open by mid-2024. As in the Petrol Station days, draft beer will remain a core part of the bar’s offerings, along with cocktails and a slimmed-down version of the Monkey’s Tail food menu to allow for its smaller kitchen.

“We don’t want to take it lightly. We can take Monkey’s Tail and replicate it in Conroe. That’s not what Grease Monkey is,” Collum says.

“With Steven leaving the group, I don’t want to say what it’s going to be. It might change a little bit.”

Ultimately, Gonzalez and Collum share the same goal of making the original Monkey’s Tail and any related locations durable Houston institutions. With the right systems in place, they plan to serve customers for years to come.

“We want to be here for the long term,” Gonzalez says. “I know it’s hard for bars to do that, but Little Woodrow’s has. If they can do it, why can’t we?”

A look inside Monkey's Tail.

Monkey's Tail interior
Photo by Shannon O'Hara

Monkey's Tail has reopened after a month away.

Ken Hoffman applauds new Texas law that fines service animal impersonators $1K

good dog...law

I don’t usually mark September 1 on my calendar. That’s when the Texas Legislature unleashes a new batch for laws each year. We have plenty of laws already.

But I was excited about one new law that went into effect this September 1: House Bill 4164 imposes a $1,000 fine and 30 hours of community service for anybody caught falsely claiming their pet is a trained service dog so they can bring their precious Princess onto planes, into hotels, restaurants, and other businesses.

We’ve all seen this and it’s enough already.

Hot dogs only in supermarkets, please

I especially was hoping this new law would stop people from bringing their pets into supermarkets. That’s my “pets” peeve. I don’t like dogs sniffing around my potential food and worse, turning the frozen food aisle into a Saturday night dog park for singles.

I used to work in a supermarket. It’s hard work. Nobody there is being paid enough to pick up dog poop or vomit. More than anything else, there’s a sign out front, “no animals allowed — except for service animals.”

Do you see that sign, “Mr. Laws Don’t Apply to Me?” That’s the most infuriating part, privileged people who think they don’t have to obey laws they don’t agree with.

To borrow from an early Seinfeld episode, the legislature is good at passing laws, sometimes local authorities aren’t so good at enforcing them.

The new law defines an actual service animal as a “canine that is specially trained or equipped to help a person with a disability.” According to the bill’s author, the law “should help restore the reputation that trained service dogs have earned and limit negative interactions that service dogs experience.”

Bad dog...owners

I’m still seeing non-disabled (best as I can tell) people walk their dogs into my supermarket like it’s perfectly normal, perfectly okay and perfectly legal. They walk their dogs right past security guards, off-duty police and store staff. Unfortunately, it has gotten perfectly normal.

But it’s not okay, not normal, and it’s not legal.

It’s bad enough that I see people fondling peaches and melons in the produce section like it’s the backseat of a limo on prom night.

It’s disgusting that I see dogs scratching themselves in the cereal aisle while I’m looking for my box of Cinnamon Life, the unsung hero of the entire breakfast industry. Although lately, I’m intrigued by new Cocoa Pebbles Crunch’d with Snackable Crunchy Rockstar Shapes. Nutritionally this has to be one step down from Shipley Do-Nuts.

Bill 4164 is a tricky law to enforce, I get that. The law says that security, store staff, or anybody else can’t ask the person bringing their dog into stores about their disability or the qualifications of their dog. A hotel or hospital can’t even ask beforehand if a guest is bringing a service animal with them. Stores can’t stop a person at the door and demand “show me your papers.”

So bottom line, it’s basically an unenforceable law, but thanks for the thoughts and prayers, legislators. Non-disabled people are left to self-obey the law that prohibits them from falsely passing off their pets as service dogs.

Yeah, I know, good luck with that.

A couple of weeks ago, I made a comment under my breath so one of these dog-walking shoppers could hear me. He turned and told me to mind my own business … like I’m the bad guy?

A hard no — from a loving dog dad

I can understand why some restaurants want to allow dogs on their outside patio, it’s their prerogative and it might be good for business. You just don’t get my business. Not after, in the middle of my cheeseburger one afternoon, I watched a customer put his plate on the floor for his dog to lick.

Don’t get me wrong or think I’m sort of anti-pet meanie. I absolutely love dogs. I wrote the homeless pet column in the Houston Chronicle for 20 years and a Pet of the Week column here. I was responsible for thousands of dog adoptions. I’m the Edna Gladney of the pet world.

I’ve had a dog all my life. Me and Sally, my alleged Wheaten Terrier — talk about false advertising — are tight (Editor's note: Read one of Ken's greatest pieces — the day he adopted Sally — here.) You know that dilemma, if your house were on fire and you could save only one thing, what would it be? That’s an easy one for me. The answer is Sally. Duh!

As much as I love my dog, I don’t impose her on others. I always walk her on a leash. I don’t take her to restaurants. I figure she could use a little alone time, too.

How do you feel about the new dog ruling? Let Ken know at ken@culturemap.com or on Twitter.

Cassandro wrestles with lucha libre and homophobia in real-life story

mucha lucha

The LGBTQ community and the sports world have long had an uneasy relationship, especially in the United States. There are exceedingly few out male athletes around the world compared to the number of players total, and even though the world has progressed in significant ways, that statistic doesn’t seem likely to change anytime soon.

Although some don’t view professional wrestling as a sport, the culture around it is certainly testosterone-heavy, an idea that’s challenged in the new film, Cassandro. Saúl (Gael Garcia Bernal) lives in El Paso, but regularly crosses the border into Juarez, Mexico to participate in lucha libre matches. On the small side, he’s regularly cast as the runt, who never stands a chance at winning.

Openly gay, Saúl decides to change his wrestling persona to be an “exótico,” allowing him to express himself in a flamboyant manner. With the new wrestling name of Cassandro, Saúl starts to gain the notice of promoters and fans. At the same time, he wrestles with personal issues, including the strained life of his single mother, Yocasta (Perla De La Rosa) and an affair he’s having with a fellow luchador, Gerardo (Raúl Castillo).

Written and directed by Roger Ross Williams and co-written by David Teague, the film has a solidly-told story featuring a mixture of good performances, even if it feels like there’s something missing. The movie has all the hallmarks of an underdog story, and while it hits some of expected signposts along the way, it also strangely seems to hold back in certain aspects.

If you’re not already familiar with the lucha libre culture, the film doesn’t make it easy to get a handle on it. As in all pro wrestling, the matches aren’t “real,” but how and when the wrestlers decide how to perform and who will “win” feels confusing in the context of the film. It’s clear that the confidence Saúl shows as Cassandro makes him more appealing, but the intricacies of lucha libre could have been expounded on a bit more.

This becomes even more evident when fans are shown yelling gay slurs at him and other exóticos. There seems to be a contradictory performativeness to the antagonism, as those same fans soon start supporting him. Oddly, any other explicit homophobia is kept hidden, which - given the time period (the 1980s and ‘90s) and the machismo prevalent in Mexican culture - seems like the filmmakers made a conscious choice to not go down that road.

That and other decisions leave the film a bit flat emotionally. Saúl/Cassandro goes through a lot of upheaval in the film, and while the majority of it is engaging, there isn't a point where the story fully captures your heart. As with other areas, if the filmmakers had pushed just 10 percent harder, it would’ve turned the film from good to great.

Bernal turns in a fantastic performance, despite the fact that, even though he looks younger than he is, he’s a little old to be playing this particular character. Still, he has a charm and athleticism that makes him believable throughout. Good in supporting roles are Castillo (playing a similar role he did in The Inspection) and Roberta Colindrez as Saúl’s trainer. Keep an eye out for Bad Bunny in a small but interesting role.

There’s a lot to like about Cassandro, the story that’s being told, and the performances it contains. But by choosing not to explore certain parts of the story as much as they could have, the filmmakers left a lot of emotionality out of it.


Cassandro is now playing in select theaters. It debuts on Prime Video on September 22.

Gael Garcia Bernal in Cassandro

Photo courtesy of Prime Video

Gael Garcia Bernal in Cassandro.