Restaurants / Openings

Houston’s Hottest Restaurant Gossip — New Openings, a Patio Brawl With Brasserie 19, and a Major Closing

Everything That Is Coming to 4411 San Felipe

BY // 08.17.22

Those who travel the Waugh Drive corridor through Montrose on any regular basis have certainly noted that the Pept0-Bismol pink facade of the former Tony Mandola’s Seafood Kitchen has become a pristine white. Something is up. And sure enough a new restaurant is about to open and that’s just one of the juicy bits of voluminous Houston food world intelligence circulating in certain quarters.

Now, you’ll know too. Gatsby’s Steakhouse is expanding its local footprint with nightlife entrepreneur Luis Rangel poised to open Gatsby’s Seafood in that former Tony Mandola’s restaurant space on Waugh Drive. Thus, the new paint job. Gatsby’s is expected to open in just a few weeks.

Only a few blocks West, River Oaks Shopping Center is hopping with restaurant news not the least of which is that the much beloved La Griglia, part of the Landry’s empire, is losing its lease at the end of the year. We are told that Kimco Realty Corp., which bought the posh shopping center from Weingarten Realty Investors, may have either refused to renew the La Griglia lease or was contractually prohibited from a renewal perhaps due to a longstanding feud between Landry’s and Weingarten. There are several versions of this unconfirmed situation.

Whatever the case is, La Griglia is leaving.

We understand that Houston billionaire Tilman Fertitta and Landry’s are researching other locations in the choice River Oaks/Montrose neighborhood for a new foothold. Needless to say, the staff, many of whom have been with La Griglia for 20 years, are singing the blues, particularly when one rumor had Fertitta looking in the Galleria area for La Griglia’s next perch. That would be  buzz kill for the professionals who lunch there so frequently that they warmly refer to it as “the office cafeteria.”

In brighter news, Cocody Bar & Restaurant will bring a level of unmatched sophistication to River Oaks Shopping Center when it opens at 1971 West Gray, across the street from Brasserie 19. The owners have hired glamorous Houston-based designer Nina Magon to handle what is reportedly an $8 million investment in the long-empty space adjacent to the alley.

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Across the street and literally next door to Brasserie 19, Dallas-based enterprise Hudson House is opening the doors to its fifth outpost. According to the website, bar and food service should begin later this summer. But they aren’t playing nice. The group wanted half of B-19’s crazy popular patio. Call in the lawyers, please. Brassiere 19 owner Charles Clark has dug in his heels and ain’t giving up his decade’s long proprietary and contract ownership of the patio.

Owners of the soon-to-open Italian restaurant Zanti Cucina Italiana, located just east toward  downtown from Brasserie 19, are creating their own patio in what was previously coveted parking spaces for the Brassiere 19 valet.  Zanti owner Santiago Peláez is hoping to recreate in a prime River Oaks Shopping Center locale his success with the Zanti restaurant in The Woodlands, which opened in 2019.

Also in the neighborhood, the old Emmaline at 3210 West Dallas — noted for its majestic oak trees and romantic ambience — is now in the hands of Dan Wierck’s Sundown Entertainment which has plans to open under the name Muse. If the website imagery is accurate, it will be an entirely different look from Emmaline.

The Euro-chic vibe of  St. Tropez will be repeated when Ciel opens on San Felipe.

Major 4411 San Felipe Restaurant Happenings

There is also restaurant news for the new-build at 4411 San Felipe which features three floors of office space and ground floor retail. Adel Sadek and his partners are moving toward realizing their uber sophisticated restaurant to be called Ciel, located here at street level. Sadek has nabbed a rising star chef who is classically trained and worked at French Laundry and Vespertine in Los Angeles. The new eatery in the seven-story building developed by D.C. Partners is anticipated to bring a St. Tropez-inspired Euro chic vibe to the locale.

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Casual chic Italian restaurant Bari is set to open in the previous Tom Ford location in River Oaks District.

In case you missed this bit of news regarding River Oaks District, the site of the Tom Ford boutique will soon become Bari, a casual chic Italian restaurant, which will have the ideal perch overlooking a new pocket park that is being carved from a previous connector block and street parking. Can we expect dueling patios with the wildly popular Toulouse just across the street?

Atlas Restaurant Group, basking in the rumored million-dollar-a-month earnings at Italian chophouse Marmo  in the Montrose Collection development, are looking at future plans to expand the Marmo brand with a jazz and wine bar. A location has not yet been determined.

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