Restaurants / Openings

Georgia James Makes a Surprise Move — Chris Shepherd’s Signature Steakhouse Embraces Regent Square as Another Favorite Shutters

Hay Merchant is Closing, But More New Underbelly Restaurants Are On the Way

BY // 08.31.21

We might have known something was up when interviewing interior designer Amanda Medsger last month when she demurred on revealing Underbelly Hospitality’s design plans for the new restaurant going in at Regent Square. On Tuesday morning, Underbelly chef/owner Chris Shepherd revealed that he is relocating his flagship steakhouse Georgia James to that West Dallas at Dunlavy location instead of opening the previously announced live-fire restaurant in that space.

The big move is set for the end of the year, when the lease is up at 1100 Westheimer prompting the Georgia James move and the closing of Hay Merchant.

It is a busy few months coming for Underbelly Hospitality with Underbelly Burger, which will feature a version of the Hay Merchant’s popular Cease and Desist burger, opening this fall in the Houston Farmers Market and completion of the renovation of UB Preserve. Those design efforts are also in the hands of Medsger.

Georgia James (Facebook)
Fans of Georgia James’ cast iron cooked steaks will find the same offerings when the steakhouse relocates to Regent Square at the end of the year.

With the dawn of 2022, Georgia James will open in Regent Square as will a second Underbelly Hospitality restaurant, which according to the release will most likely be a spinoff from one of One Fifth’s most popular concepts. Wild Oats will also open in Houston Farmers Market also in the first quarter of 2022. For the record, One Fifth will remain open until the end of the year. Its closing date has been up in the air.

“This move is bittersweet, for sure,” Shepherd says in a statement. “A lot of factors went into this decision. Our lease is up, and the cost to renovate the building into what we need doesn’t make economic sense. Plus, the City of Houston is starting street improvements of Waugh and Waughcrest, which will definitely impact business.

“We were provided the opportunity to build Georgia James nearly from the ground up by the folks at Regent Square, and it was too great an opportunity to pass up.”

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Fans of Georgia James fear not as executive chef Greg Peters and general manager Raul Lorenzana will remain at the helm just as the signature cast iron-seared steaks, seasonal sides, popular desserts and baller boards will continue as menu staples. Thanks to the new space with a second floor, Underbelly also plans to introduce The Lounge at Georgia James, a comfy indoor/outdoor space for drinks and snacks upstairs where there will be seating for 120 indoors and 50 more on the terrace. The main dining room will accommodate 220.

In the release, Underbelly reveals Medsger’s design motif of the new Georgia James space calling it “refined and sexy, dark and moody — a modern and masculine space with feminine touches. Textures and color palettes will be inspired by Georgia and James themselves (Chris’s parents).”

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