LEAGUE CITY

Business at Malay Malay is slower than usual these days.

Where once a full-time serving staff of about five worked at the restaurant regularly, now three people run things, said Danielle Darbonne, a manager at the Malaysian eatery, 2508 Interstate 45.

“Construction has taken a toll,” Darbonne said. “Other than that, we’re just hanging in here and surviving.”

Mere weeks after crews at the behest of the Texas Department of Transportation shut down the FM 646 overpass bridge spanning Interstate 45, business owners on both sides of the interstate nearby say they are starting to feel the hurt.

Owners of Olympia Grill, 2535 Interstate 45, which recently has been closed, said their business was off because of the construction.

“Of course we are,” said Larry Kriticos, an owner of the business. “If someone misses the restaurant, then they have to drive another 5 miles to get back to it.”

Olympia Grill is in Pinnacle Park, which is a 100-acre mixed-use town center at Interstate 45 and Big League Dreams Parkway. Operators of several other businesses in the development said they also were hurting because of the construction.

The sudden and abrupt closure of Olympia Grill, which only opened November after months of planning and construction, kicked up talks throughout Galveston County’s biggest city about the affect construction is having on local business.

Kriticos on Monday said he would make a decision some time this week on his plans to reopen the restaurant, which is closed “due to kitchen maintenance,” according to a sign on the door.

Representatives for businesses such as H-E-B declined to comment about whether the closures were hurting sales, but all those who did comment acknowledged the problems they were facing.

“You can never be prepared enough,” said Manish Maheshwari, who, with business partners, owns franchises Little Bella Mia and Coco Crepes, Waffles & Coffee in Pinnacle Park, near Olympia Grill.

Representatives for the developer of Pinnacle Park, Pinnacle Alliance Fund, did not respond to a request for comment by deadline Monday.

Crews on March 1 closed the FM 646 overpass as the first step in expanding the highway in that area, but ongoing Interstate 45 construction isn’t new.

Department officials have also closed down many of the exits between FM 517 and FM 518 as part of their $120 million effort to expand the interstate, leading to long lines of cars during rush hour and discouraging many would-be shoppers.

Over the next six months, crews will demolish the FM 646 bridge, with plans to eventually replace it with a street running under the interstate, officials said.

Businesses in the area can weather a six-month project, but they could have problems if that schedule slows down, Maheshwari said.

“The main thing is you don’t really know how long it will go on,” he said. “That uncertainty you saw when they closed parts of Bay Area Boulevard for construction — a bunch of businesses closed down. It’s just a matter of how long the process goes on.

“As a business owner, you love some construction because that signifies growth,” Maheshwari said. “The concern is that it’s done in a timely manner.”

City Manager John Baumgartner at Friday’s State of the City address said he thought construction on Interstate 45 in the League City area, which includes more than the FM 646 bridge work, should be finished in 2021.

The plan to widen Interstate 45 through Galveston County is divided into several phases.

The Kriticos brothers own two successful Olympia Grills in Galveston and planned for years to open the League City location.

Matt deGrood: 409-683-5230; matt.degrood@galvnews.com

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(20) comments

Rusty Schroeder

This paper doesn't have an IT staff capable of fixing this screwup? I have got to think this has something to do with the erroneous cancellation of services e-mail I received a couple weeks ago that was followed by an apology the next day. Pitiful GCDN. Hey Leonard, get this fixed or hire someone that can.

Gretchen Brown

Are you referring to the stories just have a line or paragraph of text? I wasn't sure if I was the only one having that problem or not.

Rusty Schroeder

Yes, you are not alone.

Rusty Schroeder

The e-mail and apology were both on Feb. 27.

KevinMCox Staff
Kevin M. Cox

Rusty and Gretchen, I am sorry you are experiencing issues. Anytime you have technical trouble on the website please use the Contact Support button at the bottom of any page to reach out. So far we have received complaints from less than 10 readers seeing this problem and are trying to narrow down the commonalities. If you are willing to help please send an email to support@galvnews.com with details about the device you are using to access the site. Most importantly the operating system and web browser being used. So far neither us or our service provider are able to reproduce the problem and these additional details will help us get to the solution faster.

Rusty Schroeder

Who sent the emails on the 27th ? Did that email go out to all readers? You have said the same thing at least 3 times, if I didn't change anything on my end, then it is on your end. You made some changes and you can't recover your mistake, plain and simple. Windows 10, home PC, and Xfinity is my provider. rs

KevinMCox Staff
Kevin M. Cox

Thanks Rusty, we've just identified an issue with Internet Explorer and Microsoft Edge web browsers thanks to reader reports and should have it fixed soon. Customer support does not monitor the comments of articles for these types of issues so you'll always get a faster response by clicking Contact Support or calling us at 409-683-5260.

We're definitely getting off topic for the comments section on an article about League City businesses, but that email last month was accidentally sent by our circulation department through an entirely separate system than the website. It was meant to go to a small subset of subscribers whose subscriptions were about to expire but as you know accidentally went out to readers who did not meet that criteria.

John long

Ooook... so, back to the freeway problem.... it's hard to get excited about the new h iway when I only see like 15 people working on it. The employer should have 50 people out there between overpasses and get it done. But we all know the politics involved in these timelines... Keep Texas Moving!🤠

Rusty Schroeder

Having been in this business for years I can tell you these projects are constructed with the same contractors statewide as well as neighboring states. Their is a letting date for contracts that will outline the project from start to finish with the end result a bid. The winning contractor moves crews according to weather and completion dates. That's why you see heavy construction for 3 or 4 days then basically just a maintenance crew for weeks and even months. There are 3 or 4 main company's in Texas that get most all of highway and freeway contracts, thus they move specialized employees around to different jobsites. The only time you really see a fast completion is when incentives are given, they always meet the timeline on those. So yes, politics is definitely involved in Texas Highway construction, it's a monopoly to tell the truth. The rich get richer, and politicians and TXDOT officials take many a hunting trip and eat free lunches on the taxpayer's dime. Been that way for years and probably will never change.

Steve Fouga

Rusty, will those same companies bid on the Ike Dike, if it gets that far? Or is that a different group of contractors?

Rusty Schroeder

I don't know, I could see Abrams bidding the entire job then sub contracting out the barge based and overwater piling work to another specialty company. The west end and Bolivar barrier wall would be basically one huge overpass ramp wall. The spine across the bay and channel gates would be out of their scope of work I would imagine.

Gary Scoggin

I agree with this. For highly disruptive projects like this, the contractor should be required to work the critical path 24/7. The extra costs would almost certainly be offset by the economic benefits of quicker completion.

George Croix

If the people making the decisions about the work plan were the ones stuck in traffic daily or losing money daily, it would more likely be 24/7 work......[beam][beam]

No personal risk, no imperative to mitigate it.....

Blanca Bell

Although the construction and traffic is a problem it has always been difficult to get to these restaurants if you are driving North. Once you get there you deal with the most over designed parking lot/drive way in the world. Hard to get to, terrible parking lot design, high prices and mediocre tasting food is a recipe for disaster. Also, how does beef jerky outlet stay open?

Steve Fouga

LOL! I'd put the gargantuan Baybrook lot up against this one, as far as overdesign goes. Sometimes I feel I need a map to get back to the access road.

John Crainer

IKR? Who eats that much jerky?

Chuck DiFalco

In general, I'm loving all the new restaurant choices in League City between FM646 and LC Parkway. I've been tired of the same old thing -- fast food, chain pizza, and low grade TexMex. Can't wait for King's. I've been to Olympia Grill. Sad to see it shut down. I'm both hoping and expecting it to reopen when 646 comes back on line.

Michelle Aycoth

I think Kings is going to be a big hit .
I think that will bring even more restaurants along 646.
Andrew Aycoth

Rusty Schroeder

Me too, Abuelo's is terrific and I like Mod Pizza as well as Freddy's for a quick eat. If people would actually look at a map first instead of listening to their phone for directions, life and driving would be easier for us all.

Rusty Schroeder

Finally, I can read again.

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