New businesses launch from restored homes in rural Cypress

As development continues in the Cy-Fair area, some business owners have looked for alternatives to the standard retail strip center. From Little Eclectic House to Frio Hill Country Grill, several businesses have opened in restored homes along the Mueschke Road corridor in recent years.

Business owners said while the renovation process can be expensive and time-consuming, it is worth having a site with character and history.

Gwen and Rick Franke opened Murdoch’s Backyard Pub in March 2016 on Mueschke Road after about a year of renovation work. Before construction of the Grand Parkway in Cy-Fair wrapped up, Gwen Franke said the couple was on the lookout for a unique location to open the restaurant.

“We just went looking along Mueschke Road knowing … this area was going to get busier,” she said.

The Frankes finalized the purchase of a 45-year-old, three-bedroom house in November 2014.

Rick Franke said he did most of the renovations himself and continues work on the property today to transform an old barn behind the restaurant into space for additional seating and a frozen custard shop.

Initial projects included removing a chain-link fence, an old shed and a pig barn in the backyard to accommodate ample outdoor patio seating.

“When we bought the property, I saw the potential and knew what we basically wanted to do ... but part of it you [figure out] while you’re going,” Rick said.

Not far from Murdoch’s, Trey Willis relocated his business—The Talent House—from an old house he rented on Mueschke Road to a Fenske Road log cabin last June when demand for music lessons outpaced capacity.

“We outgrew that space, and I didn’t want to keep dumping money into this place I didn’t own,” he said. “That house had character, so I didn’t want to lose that. I wanted to find a house that was close and had land to grow.”

Originally built in 1935, the home was planted from another location about 30 years ago and was converted to a log cabin in the early 2000s, Willis said.

Since purchasing the property in summer 2017, he said he has largely kept the original aesthetics while modernizing interior accents with new paint, flooring, furniture and lighting. The bulk of the renovations involved soundproofing and converting a few rooms in the house to 10 smaller rooms designed for one-on-one music instruction.

The Talent House launched six years ago with 40 students between two instructors and today has about 330 students and 14 teachers with plans to add two more rooms to increase capacity. Ultimately, Willis said he would like to build additional music production space on-site where students can record music.

Room to grow

Although The Talent House has expanded over time, Willis said the operation is still small enough to get to know the customers. He said he believes nearby residential growth will help the business continue to flourish, but he hopes to maintain a quiet, creative space for students to learn.

“It feels like you’re in the middle of nowhere, but you’re still five minutes away from Target,” he said. “It’s kind of nice to have all this open, beautiful space, but the development is moving out here.”

Rick Franke agreed the development of west Cypress is evident, and he said he has seen longtime residents sell their properties to make a profit.

“I’ve already had offers for the property for much more than I paid, but I really don’t have any intent to sell any part of it,” he said. “The goal is to give people a little bit of a retreat in this area because I think eventually there’s not going to be too many retreats.”

By Danica Smithwick

Danica joined Community Impact Newspaper in May 2016 after graduating with a journalism degree from Union University in Jackson, Tennessee. She covers public education, local government, business, demographic trends, real estate development, nonprofits and more in the Cy-Fair community.


Texas Central claims the $12 billion construction process would be privately funded, and the train would transport 6 million annual riders by 2029. (Courtesy Texas Central Partners/Community Impact Newspaper)
High-speed rail could break ground in 2020; opposition has doubts

Texas Central claims the $12 billion construction process would be privately funded, and the train would transport 6 million annual riders by 2029.

The Texas Department of Transportation has announced several lane closures planned along Hwy. 290 this weekend. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
25 Hwy. 290 lane closures affecting Cy-Fair drivers this weekend, Jan. 17-19

The Texas Department of Transportation has announced the following lane closures planned along Hwy. 290 this weekend.

Southern Divas Boutique has locations in Cypress and in Katy.
Southern Divas Boutique to close Cypress location in late January

Most store items will be included in a 50% off sale through Jan. 31.

The Cy-Fair ISD Dance Showoffs take place on Jan. 23. (Courtesy Cy-Fair ISD)
20 things to do in and around Cy-Fair in January and February

Events range from live music to a dance showcase to a fundraiser honoring veterans.

Raveneaux Country Club was one of hundreds of properties that flooded during Hurricane Harvey in 2017. (Courtesy Harris County Flood Control District)
Cagle: Goal of Raveneaux acquisition is not to put an ‘ugly hole in the ground’

“The goal is to create something more along the lines of Kickerillo [Mischer Preserve] with beautiful park amenities—little fishing piers, boat launches and walking trails that go around it,” Cagle said.

A Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County study on eliminating ride fares left both METRO board members and officials seemingly unconvinced of the likelihood of implementing it in Harris County. (Kelly Schafler/Community Impact Newspaper)
METRO board of directors say free fare 'not feasible' for transit authority

A METRO study on eliminating ride fares left board members and officials unconvinced of the likelihood of implementing it in Harris County.

A proposed road project in Cypress involves extending Greenhouse Road under Union Pacific Corp. railroad tracks and Hwy. 290 to connect with Skinner Road.
Project connecting Greenhouse, Skinner roads moves forward

The project was added to a four-year transportation improvement plan adopted by the Houston-Galveston Area Council in March.

Gander Mountain closed its Cy-Fair location in 2017. (Courtesy Colliers International)
Preliminary plans announced for former Gander Mountain site at Hwy. 290, FM 1960

The facility will feature a two-story go kart track, bowling, virtual reality games, arcade games, axe throwing, event rooms, upscale dining and multiple bars.

(Jen Para/Community Impact Newspaper)
Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo concert tickets go on sale Jan. 16

Lower-level seating options are already very limited.

Texas oil and gas industry could see a major slowdown in 2020

The oil and natural gas industry paid a record-setting $16.3 billion in taxes and royalties to local governments and the state in 2019, the Texas Oil and Gas Association announced Tuesday.

All customers will receive a free chocolate chip cookie during the grand opening on Friday. (Courtesy Crumbl Cookies)
Crumbl cookie delivery service to celebrate Cypress grand opening with free cookies

All customers will receive a free chocolate chip cookie during the grand opening on Friday.

The Katy Prairie Conservancy has acquired 636 acres of land referred to as the Pattison Tract. (Courtesy Katy Prairie Conservancy)
Katy Prairie Conservancy acquires 636-acre tract off Pattison Road

The new acquisition is in a part of the prairie that officails said is "of highest priority for conservation."

Back to top