Freight lines: After months of scouting Texas City sites, California-based Harbor Freight Tools has settled on a space at what’s become a bustling retail center at the business office building formerly occupied by Marathon Galveston Bay Refinery, 3403 Palmer Highway.

The store is underway at the end of the center facing the highway. The 15,000-square-foot store, which will mark Harbor Freight’s 79th in Texas, will stock a full selection of tools and accessories in categories including automotive, air and power tools, storage, outdoor power equipment, generators, welding supplies, shop equipment, hand tools and more, company officials said.

Harbor Freight will join furniture, mattresses, electronics and appliance store Conn’s HomePlus and gym Planet Fitness.

No word yet on an opening date. Stay tuned.

Slow-smoked move: A Houston restaurateur is shaking up the island dining scene with this week’s announcement that on June 1 he’ll take over day-to-day operations of the popular Farley Girls Cafe, 801 Postoffice St., near the University of Texas Medical Branch campus.

Jim Buchanan owns Buck’s Barbeque Co., a regular feature at Lucky’s Lodge just east of downtown Houston. Buchanan always had wanted to own his own barbecue restaurant and when he learned owners of Farley Girls wanted to sell, he saw opportunity, he said.

Buchanan understands Farley Girls has a loyal following and he plans to make the transition slow and steady, he said.

“The soul and charm of the restaurant is never going away,” Buchanan said. “I’m not going to mess that up.”

The Farley Girls name will remain for at least six months, Buchanan said. But he’ll also post a Buck’s Barbeque Co. sign at the restaurant.

The Farley Girls menu is expansive and described as as “A Little Bit of Everything.”

For at least the first six months, Buchanan will keep most of the familiar Farley Girls menu items and add his traditional Texas barbecue, he said.

He’ll integrate his smoked meat components into some the existing dishes, including adding smoked sirloin to the popular French Dip sandwich, he said. His version of the sandwich will pay homage to the famous Debris with au jus gravy at Mother’s Restaurant in New Orleans. “Debris” is the roast beef that falls into the au jus gravy in the pan while roasting in the oven, according to the New Orleans eatery.

Buchanan also will add smoked brisket or pork belly to brunch biscuit sandwiches, he said. Farley Girls has a popular “Mile High Meatloaf” on its daily menu, but Buchanan plans to add his twist with bacon-wrapped and smoked meatloaf, he said.

Buchanan will maintain daily operating hours, but also add a dinner service Thursday through Saturday evenings, he said.

After lunch service ends at 3 p.m., the restaurant will close, reset the kitchen and open for dinner service at 5 p.m., Buchanan said.

The restaurant eventually will offer a “to-go” family meal package, he said.

Sisters Rosmond Thormahlen and Ryanne Duzich Culberson opened Farley Girls in 2012. Farley is the maiden name of their mother, Diane.

The eatery was an instant success and also became known for weekend brunch.

In about six months, Buchanan will begin the transition to a Buck’s Barbeque-branded operation and menu and also within six months hopes to make drinks and spirits available with dinner service, he said.

Palace coup: Inquiring readers have noticed a new parking lot next to the former Bubba’s Shrimp Palace, 113 Sixth St. in San Leon, and have wondered whether it might reopen.

Bubba’s Shrimp Palace isn’t planning a return there, but Johnny and Lisa Halili, who own oyster distributor Prestige Oysters, have acquired the property with plans to open a restaurant they’ll call Pier 6, Lisa Halili said. The parking lot work readers are buzzing about was to accommodate the annual San Leon Oyster Festival, which was April 27 and featured such entertainers as Mickey Gilley.

The Halilis plan first to repair the marina, if the weather cooperates, and open the restaurant this summer.

Owners of Bubba’s Shrimp Palace in October 2017 closed the San Leon eatery, and another at 325 Interstate 45 in League City. Stay tuned.

Teeing up? Removal of the construction fence has some readers wondering about the status of Birdies Eatery, the golf-themed restaurant underway at 401 Laurel St. in La Marque.

“Exterior buildout is nearing completion and tenants are now working on interior buildout,” said Colleen Merritt, public relations specialist for the La Marque Economic Development Corp. “Birdies owners met with city staff last week and have initiated the permit process.” But an exact opening date wasn’t immediately available.

Robert and Tina Steinhaus are owners of the restaurant, which plans to serve American fusion cuisine with golf décor.

Menu items will include wings, gourmet sandwiches and burgers, salads and hot and cold soups, to name a few.

Birdies Eatery also will feature big-screen TVs for viewing such sports as football, basketball, golf and more. It will serve cold beer on tap, as well as a selection of wine and fresh Arnold Palmers — iced tea and lemonade — every day.

For the uninitiated, a birdie in golf is a score one stroke under par. Birdies is opening in La Marque’s Renaissance District, meant to revitalize downtown.

Laura Elder: 409-683-5248;

(1) comment

James Lippert

Yeh Harbor Freight! Shrewd move by HF management, this store will be a top seller!

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