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‘Saved By The Bell’ Star Mario Lopez’s Ghost Kitchen Is Now Slinging Tortas in Houston

Plus, a notorious Houston bar hands out free pizzas in exchange for proof of COVID-19 vaccination, and more dining intel

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Saved By The Bell - Season 1
Mario Lopez in the ‘Saved By The Bell’ reboot
Photo by: Casey Durkin/Peacock/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

Welcome to AM Intel in the time of coronavirus, a round-up of the city’s newest bits of restaurant-related intel. Follow Eater on Facebook and Twitter for up-to-date details on how COVID-19 is impacting the city’s dining scene.

Bottled Blonde offering free pizza with proof of vaccination

Bottled Blonde, the embattled chain of bars bar with a location on Washington Avenue, is offering a free pizza to any customer who gets a COVID-19 vaccine. Customers who show proof of vaccination can get a free pie any day until 10 p.m., with one pizza per table, the Houston Chronicle reports. The promo, which began right after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced a full rollback of social distancing restrictions in the state, is valid through March 31.

Bottled Blonde locations in several cities have faced legal troubles for a myriad of reasons, include restrictive dress codes, and, more recently, failure to follow statewide COVID-19 guidelines. Last summer, the Dallas location was investigated, and later cleared, by the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission for failing to observe COVID-19 occupancy limits and other rules. in November, TABC temporarily suspended the Houston location’s liquor license for the same reason.

House of Pies heads to Cypress

Beloved diner and dessert destination House of Pies will open a fifth Houston-area location later this year in Cypress. The restaurant, at 25686 Highway 290, is expected to open later this fall, according to Community Impact. The franchise, which filed for bankruptcy and closed most of its locations in the mid-1980s, has been in expansion mode in recent years, with a location on Fuqua opening in 2017, and a Woodlands outpost that opened in 2019. The Cypress House of Pies has been in the works for a few years, but was delayed by the pandemic.

Saved by the Bell’s Mario Lopez is the latest celeb to launch a ghost kitchen in Houston

Nineties heartthrob Mario Lopez, best known for playing A.C. Slater on teen comedy Saved by The Bell, has partnered with international restaurateur Robert Earl to open a virtual tortas restaurant serving the sandwiches through Grubhub. The restaurant, called Mario’s Tortas Lopez, operates out of a Wayside Mexican restaurant called Tamales Doña Tere, and serves dishes like tortas filled with grilled steak with caramelized onions, chorizo and egg, and shredded pork carnitas with salsa verde. Other dishes include nachos, rice bowls, and elote.

Lopez joins a handful of other celebrities who have leant their names to virtual restaurants in Houston, including celebrity chef Guy Fieri, Mariah Carey and Wiz Khalifa.