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Restaurants / Openings / Closings

Houston Restaurant Drama — a Wave of High-Profile Closings, New Hotspots & Chef Shuffles Hit Home

BY // 05.19.17

The Houston restaurant scene is constantly changing, with new hotspots, tough-luck closings, must-try places, and major culinary events. Even the most dedicated foodie can have trouble keeping up, but don’t worry, PaperCity has you covered.

Now Open
The brainchild of James Beard award-winning chef Justin Yu (formerly Oxheart) and cocktail veteran Bobby Heugel (Anvil Bar and Refuge, The Nightingale Room), Better Luck Tomorrow — a neighborhood bar in The Heights — is going strong at 544 Yale Street (in the former Dry Creek Cafe space). Touting Dan Flavin-inspired surrounds, the new hotspot churns out hyper seasonal cocktails concocted by operations director Terry Williams and bar manager Alex Negranza accompanied by inventive bar bites courtesy chef Matt Boesen — think everything from charred spring squash to hot star-style crispy fried chicken.

After six years of Pearland domination King’s Biergarten expands outside of the bustling Houston-area suburb with its newest concept — King’s Bierhaus. The new restaurant, which is now open at 2044 East T.C. Jester, marks father-son proprietary duo Hans and Phillip Sitter‘s first foray into the Houston city limits. Expect the brand’s signature German fare and gourmet sausages.

Following months of anticipation, chef Ryan Hildebrand’s (formerly Triniti) FM Kitchen + Bar is now open at 1112 Shepherd Drive. The Texas-themed restaurant is serving a bevy of burgers, sandwiches and Texas-style plates.

Beloved Houston café Tiny Boxwoods expands its Texas footprint with its first Austin location, now open at 1503 West 35th Street.

Mediterranean-American eatery Island Grill is now open in Rice Village at 2365 Rice Boulevard, the former Little Liberty Space. This is restaurant number four for Island Grill owners Faysal and Maria Haddad. 

Cavo Coffee is now serving on Richmond. (Photo courtesy Cavo Coffee Facebook page)

From the man that brought you popular Montrose hangout Siphon Coffee, Cavo — a second coffee café from proprietor Michael Caplan — is now open at 3773 Richmond Avenue. A full coffee bar offers everything from halogen siphons and lattes to espresso and tea alongside a diverse food menu which features a bevy of whimsical toasts, sandwiches, salads, and grab-and-go bites.

Star Fish, the Heights’ newest seafood restaurant, can be found at 191 Height Boulevard (formerly the Bradley’s Fine Dine space). The brainchild of Cherry Pie Hospitality’s Lee Ellis and chef Jim Mills, the new restaurant delivers casual, eclectic vibes alongside scratch-made entrees (think everything from steak tartare, butter-fried fries, smoked oysters, and more), a diverse raw bar, and a heavyweight martini program.

Coming Soon
Dish Society brings its signature farm-to-table cuisine to The Heights with its fourth restaurant location at 1050 Yale Street. The new outpost, which is slated for a fall 2018 debut, marks the company’s first inner loop location.

The poke craze gets another jolt with the opening of Seaside Poke this month at 2118 Lamar Street. Expect eight signature raw fish bowls.

Two New Orleans staples are headed to H-Town: Luxury French Quarter steakhouse Doris Metropolitan brings its Israeli-inspired staples to the old Triniti space at 2815 South Shepherd Drive later this year; and popular New Orleans hot dog chain Dat Dog will began its Texas expansion this year, launching a plan to open 25 Dat Dog restaurants throughout Houston.

dat-dog
New Orleans favorite hot dog eatery Dat Dog is gearing up for multiple Houston locations. (Photo courtesy Dat Dog Facebook page)

Following news that swanky Houston steakhouse B&B Butchers will expand to Fort Worth, proprietor Benjamin Berg told Houston Business Journal that he will soon open his second Houston restaurant inside the luxury high-rise The Star (1111 Rusk Street) in downtown. The restaurant name and opening date have yet to be revealed.

Taking over the former Shade space at 250 West 19th Street, Alice Blue — a new contemporary bistro from owner Claire Smith — will make its official debut in June. Former Down House and Bernadine’s chef Kent Domas leads the kitchen.

Chef Shakeup
After nearly 10 years, chef Danny Trace leaves New Orleans-themed eatery Brennan’s of Houston for Jim Crane’s duo of restaurants — fine Italian restaurant Potente, and casual cafe Osso & Kristalla — both stationed in downtown mid-rise 500 Crawford.

Filling the vacancy at Brennan’s is former Killen’s Steakhouse executive chef Joe Cervantez, who previously served under Trace at Brennan’s before his two-year Killen’s stint.

Chefs Steve Huang (formerly Del Frisco’s) and Graham Laborde (former Bernadine’s and Hunky Dory culinary director) join the Killen’s team.

Also causing a stir was the recent departure of sommelier Evan Turner from his award-winning Greek eatery Helen Greek Food and Wine. After just a week away from the restaurant, Turner reversed his decision and retuned to the Helen fold.

“After expressing my sincere remorse to the Helen leadership following an ill-advised impulse to step down from a position I hold dear, I am delighted and relieved to announce my return to the Helen family,” Turner says. “My love and passion for both restaurants proved too strong a draw for me to consider going anywhere else. Helen is where I belong.”

Closings
After myriad financial issues, restaurant group Treadsack is set to cose two more restaurants at the end of the month — British American tavern Hunky Dory and Gulf seafood restaurant Bernadine’s will serve their last meals next week. This follows the shuttering of Treadsack’s Thai street food concept Foreign Correspondents.

Heights restaurant Glass Wall has officially closed. The proprietary restaurant group, Studewood Hospitality, will morph the space into a new, casual concept.

Longtime Houston steakhouse Sullivan’s is set to serve its last meal on Tuesday, May 23.

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