Underbelly Hospitality chef/owner Chris Shepherd proudly displays his restaurant offerings now being sold at H-E-B's across the city. (Courtesy photo)
Underbelly Take & Bake dishes are located near the front of participating H-E-B stores. (Courtesy photo)
Take and Bake dishes from Underbelly provide both dinner and jobs for hospitality workers. (Courtesy photo)
As necessity is the mother of invention, restaurants across the landscape are churning out original concepts aimed at keeping business flowing while the coronavirus pandemic has dining rooms closed. The latest clever idea comes from Chris Shepherd’s Underbelly Hospitality.
Already, Local Foods and Clark Cooper Concepts’ Coppa Osteria, in an effort to keep staff and basically to remain in business, have added grocery staples and a few home goods to their spaces that not so long ago welcomed scores of diners. Tables and chairs have been moved out while shelving and display cases have been moved in.
In a different effort, Shepherd has widened the opportunity to sell his food products by partnering with H-E-B, which, as of Thursday, is selling Underbelly pre-packaged take-and-bake items at its Houston grocery stores.
“Thank you so much to our friends at H-E-B,” Shepherd said in a statement. “This is one more revenue stream for us to pay rent, support our farmers, and hire our furloughed staff back faster. H-E-B is a company that truly supports its communities, and we are so grateful for this opportunity.”
The oven-ready dishes, priced at $12 each, include Tater Tot and Bacon Sausage Casserole, King Ranch Chicken, Korean braised beef and dumplings, and Wagyu Helper. Shepherd explains that Wagyu Helper is similar to Lamb Helper but with Wagyu. That dish includes fusilli pasta, cheese sauce, mirepoix, ground Wagyu, and white cheddar.
These take-and-bake specials are also available at Georgia James Meat Market, along with uncooked steaks, sweets, and wines, 20 percent off, from the market’s wine list. Orders can be made directly here.
Shepherd’s nonprofit Southern Smoke Foundation continues to assist those in the hospitality industry who find themselves in financial crisis.