Restaurants / Openings

Famed Houston Chef’s Group to Open Four New Restaurants — How Chris Shepherd is Expanding His Food World

A Shepherd and His Flock Grow

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In the next six months, Houston chef and restauranteur Chris Shepherd and his Underbelly Hospitality team are bound to be caught up in a whirlwind of new openings, closings and clever relocations with count them – four new restaurants under construction – all across the city. Here’s the breakdown of all the bold moves Shepherd is planning as we close out the year and get into 2022.

UB Preserv, the three-year-old experimental restaurant created to showcase the cultural breadth of the Houston food scene all on one menu, will shutter on December 23rd. Hard hit by the pandemic, there were initially plans to rebrand UB Preserv, but after some contemplation, the decision was made to create something new in the space.

Now queue the new Everlong Bar & Hideaway, a bar/restaurant, which we’re told will slip into that space in January as Underbelly’s Montrose bar just down the street, Hay Merchant, closes. Everlong, named after the Foo Fighters’ famous song, will be an 1980s and 1990s cocktail-focused spot with a curated wine and beer list created by Westin Galleymore. (Think potent Long Island ice teas, cosmopolitans and mojitos.)

While there will be a few favorite dishes and games (Trivia Night) carried over from Hay Merchant, chef Lucas McKinney’s menu promises a new burger, plus loads of bar snacks and shareable plates.

Georgia James Tavern Chef Moves

Chef Nick Wong who stood at the helm of UB Preserv will jump over to the recently opened Georgia James Tavern downtown. With Wong tweaking the menu, you can expect more refined food that matches the space. A mantra from New York’s famed Gramercy Tavern (where Wong worked for a year) that he plans to bring to Georgia James Tavern: “Simplicity can be luxury.”

Will any UB Preserv dishes make the transition too? Word has it possibly the crispy rice salad.

Holiday Gifting

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Georgia James Tavern is getting a new chef.
Georgia James Tavern is getting a new chef.

Regent Square Happenings

Georgia James, the steakhouse named for Shepherd’s parents, will take up residence in the One Fifth space in January. (One Fifth is Underbelly Hospitality’s restaurant that switched to a new theme annually for the duration of a five-year lease.) The steakhouse moving in is only a temporary stay that will last for roughly three months. The name also will change to Georgia James at One Fifth.

The One Fifth restaurant space is going to turn into Georgia James Steakhouse. For a short run.
The One Fifth restaurant space is going to turn into Georgia James Steakhouse. For a short run.

However, once the new mixed-use development dubbed Regent Square on West Dallas is complete – which is expected to happen sometime in March — there will be moving trucks poised to pack up Georgia James at One Fifth and relocate it to its new permanent home at The Regent and close One Fifth altogether. (Once the steakhouse moves into its new Regent home its name will revert back to simply Georgia James.)

Another Shepherd restaurant called Pastore (Italian for shepherd) will be joining Georgia James at Regent Square in the spring. With a whimsical design by Amanda Medsger, Pastore will showcase Shepherd’s take on Italian American immigrant cuisine with red-sauce circuit favorites served in mighty portions.

Farmers Market Fun

Across town at the original Houston Farmers Market on Airline Drive, Underbelly Burger is expected to open in December. The burger joint will update Hay Merchant’s popular Cease and Desist Burger made with double meat, double cheese patties with the fixins’ on a potato bun. It will also serve up fries, milkshakes and more.

The much-delayed Wild Oats restaurant is expected to open at the Houston Farmers Market shortly after Underbelly Burger in January. Wild Oats is chef Nick Fine’s take on traditional Texas fare sourced from the area’s local farmers and ranchers, some of them located at the farmers market.

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