Coltivare on White Oak Drive has become a popular neighborhood dining spot in its three years of existence; but the sheer volume has begun to cause massive headaches and obstacles for homeowners living in the restaurant’s vicinity.
Neighbors several blocks north have proceeded to vent frustrations to restaurant owners due to the congestion, which has forced a number of vehicles to line Arlington, in some cases blocking sidewalks and driveways and causing vision issues for drivers.
“Stones and cones have gone out and “No Parking” signs have gone up in front of all these homes behind the restaurant,” said one resident who wished to remain anonymous.
Upon buying the property from Mike’s Antique Shop, owners Ryan Pera and Morgan Weber proceeded to turn the existing parking lot into an outdoor patio. They had believed Coltivare would be a simple neighborhood spot as opposed to a hotspot dining destination—a development the pair admitted caught them by surprise.
“We apologize if any residents in The Heights are frustrated with our parking scenario. We always planned for Coltivare to be a neighborhood restaurant, not a dining destination,” they said. “We are thrilled by the success, but the traffic surrounding the restaurant was not something we anticipated.”
In light of the outcry, the pair proceeded to take additional efforts to mitigate the effects of congestion.
“We actually have more parking spaces than the City of Houston requires us to have in their parking ordinance,” they said. The city of Houston parking ordinance requires restaurants to have eight spaces per 1,000 square feet of Gross Floor Space. “We also lease these additional spaces from the printing shop next door,” they added.
Despite such efforts, there still remains a lack of suitable parking spots to accommodate the restaurant’s increased popularity; thus cars have continued to line White Oak in front of the restaurant—a situation which has additionally led to many an accident as well as additional questions as to why nothing has been done in attempts to increase safety.
“You have to creep out across White Oak to see oncoming traffic. Then you have to time it with pedestrians who are walking across to get in line at the restaurant, so it’s ridiculous,” the resident said. “At some point people just take a chance and shoot across White Oak hoping they make it.”
“Arlington was never intended for that kind of traffic—it’s one of the old streets in the historic district,” she added. “You have to drive around all these cars, wait and hope there isn’t oncoming traffic, because then they have to wait for you to dodge all the traffic.”
However, Ryan (who admits the danger of the crossing as an area resident himself) and Matt disputed any notion that nothing has been attempted on that front, saying the pair actually attempted to support a since-unknown effort to make the crossing safer less than a year removed from setting down roots.
“Within the first six months of our opening, we signed a petition to encourage a stop sign at White Oak and Arlington, but nothing moved forward from there,” they said. “We’d happily support a stop sign to help with the street crossing. We fully support anything the City of Houston can do to make the street safer, like the proposed stop sign.”
Adding to the issue is an existing overarching issue with historic districts; as homes built to lot lines, and nobody builds a garage or a driveway—they’ve decided to use the street as a garage.
“You already have homeowners using the street as their driveway, then you throw a popular restaurant in there, and it exacerbates the issue,” the resident said. “There are neighbors to the south who have cars lining their houses as well.”
As Heights residents themselves, Pera and Weber remain sympathetic to issues caused by the congestion; however, said in some cases that will simply be a fact of life in one of the most popular neighborhoods of the fourth-largest U.S. city, and one that continues to boom by the day.
“We live and work in an urban center, and we believe, and our laws maintain, that our streets are public and can be used by the public to park,” they said. “Unfortunately, we (as business owners or residents) can’t control senseless and inconsiderate people who park in front of our and our neighbors’ driveways.”
Still, the parking issue has not fallen by the wayside for the duo, who say they are always looking for new ways to increase their parking in light of complaints. They even briefly attempted valet parking before discontinuing the practice due to resident frustration. In that vein, the pair encouraged Heights residents to come to them with any ideas while simultaneously taking it upon themselves (whenever possible) to mitigate the effects of congestion around the restaurant and be considerate of their neighbors, such as riding a bike or taking an Uber (among other things) when traveling to and from the venue.
“We always encourage our customers and our neighbors to talk to us about any issues they are having,” they said. “We love The Heights, and we believe our restaurants provide a service of good food and hospitality to our neighbors. We’re always striving to improve, and we always welcome feedback.”