It’s official (finally): After more than a year of searching, the powers that be at The Menil Collection have chosen talented chef Greg Martin to create and operate their new café. Last June, plans were unveiled to revamp the West Alabama parking lot into a lush green gateway onto the campus, with landscape design by Michael Van Walkenburgh Associates and a cafe reimagined in one of the former Menil-gray bungalows that border the museum — the location Menil architect Renzo Piano originally proposed that a restaurant one day stand. Martin has been a notable in the Houston restaurant scene, working with Café Annie, Café Express and Taco Milagro. He says, “I never wanted to open a restaurant unless I had an original idea.” Traveling each spring to Europe, he began to hatch a thought — one that developed organically into a concept that’s grounded in European-inspired American fare. “On a trip to Rome, we walked into a local wine bodega where they give you a jug and, for a small price, you enjoy some great local wine,” Martin recalls. He saw a trend for smaller carafe/keg retailing emerging — and fortuitously, Texas state laws regarding on-premise and to-go beer and wine-selling laws recently changed, bringing his idea of offering an array of craft beer and wines (16 in all) within easy reach of diners. Martin hopes his still-unnamed Stern and Bucek-designed space will be “that easy, approachable, local restaurant you’ll want to go to a couple times a week” with reasonable menu prices, a full-service dining experience and seasonal menu. Although they’re mum about the opening date, we’re guessing it will be late spring, with continuous hours 10 am to 10 pm, Wednesday through Sunday (the same days the museum is open).