Restaurants / Openings

Chris Shepherd’s New Casual Tower Tavern Takes Shape in Downtown Houston — Everything to Know About Georgia James Tavern

More Underbelly Expansion is in the Works

BY // 02.09.21

Chris Shepherd is moving beyond Montrose in a major way. Shepherd is opening a new restaurant spinoff called Georgia James Tavern in downtown Houston, his Underbelly Hospitality restaurant group’s first venture outside of H-Town’s most eclectic neighborhood.

Georgia James Tavern is an offshoot to its namesake Georgia James restaurant and will offer a more casual twist on the fine dining steakhouse. The menu is being hybridized and tweaked for a different, more fast paced and casual scene.

“It’s going to just be something a little more comforting and relaxing and a place that you’ll want to go to on a daily basis,” Shepherd tells PaperCity. “Food that just calls you and screams for you . . .

“Understanding that a killer steak and a good martini are still definitely on the table, but sometimes you want a good salad, or a good sandwich, or a good rack of ribs.”

Georgia James’ Brand Grows

This new Georgia James Tavern will also set the stage for more Underbelly expansion throughout Houston. More so than Underbelly’s other restaurants, the casual aspect of Georgia James Tavern puts future locations very much in play.

“The Tavern is a thing that I want to see expand,” Shepherd says. “It’s kind of the brand I want to see that we can do in different parts of the city. That we can do more of.”

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Shepherd has been a driving force in promoting Houston’s diverse food scene and he knows what it takes to make it in the industry. He did not have to go far when searching for Georgia James Tavern’s chef. Matthew Coburn has been working with Shepherd for years. Coburn first started off at the original Underbelly restaurant and worked his way through the ranks to become Georgia James steakhouse’s sous chef.

Now, he’s the main chef of Shepherd’s new Georgia James Tavern.

Georgia James Tavern will be located in the Market Square Tower high-rise at 777 Preston Street. Now, Tower residents will have access to an Underbelly Hospitality restaurant right in the building. Shepherd tells PaperCity he hopes to give the residents a place that they can consider part of their home.

The new location hasn’t come without its challenges as the smaller floor plan means a smaller menu. Crafting the perfect menu for the Tavern is something both Shepherd and Coburn have been obsessing over, with the emphasis on something fun and creative.

“The size of the kitchen will definitely (cut down) the menu because you can’t do overly extravagant long-roasted things when you have one oven,” Shepherd says. “You gotta really work to your advantage on that.”

However, it wouldn’t be a Georgia James if steaks and slabs weren’t on the menu, and they will have a place at Georgia James Tavern, too.

Chef Chris Shepherd and Lindsey Brow
Newlyweds, Chef Chris Shepherd and Lindsey Brown are excited for the opening of Georgia James Tavern (Photo by Julie Soefer)

Mostly, Shepherd is excited to be venturing into downtown.

I think it’s just something that’s gonna be really killer to be downtown where we’ve never been before,” Shepherd says. “And then when offices open back up, here we go.”

Shepherd aims to have this first Georgia James Tavern open in about three months.

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