The Ivy & James closed on June 30th, after just over a year since it opened.
Loyal regulars weren't enough to keep The Ivy & James rolling.
The restaurant sits in a yellow house on Evelyn's Park's five acres.
Food trucks and pop-up cafes will spring up across the park until a permanent operator signs on.
The Ivy & James is out of the park, but it wasn’t entirely a hit. The restaurant in Bellaire’s Evelyn’s Park has shuttered after a little more than a year in business.
Located in the distinctive sunny Yellow House at 4400 Bellaire Boulevard, the restaurant closed for good on Saturday.
“They definitely had regulars, people who just liked to hang out in the park as their morning routine,” Patricia King-Ritter, Evelyn’s Park Conservancy board president, tells PaperCity.
But the nature-loving regulars weren’t enough. “It was untenable. They just couldn’t make ends meet,” King-Ritter says.
Nevertheless, fun food offerings are part of the park’s DNA, King-Rittter insists. “Long-term, the goal is to have a permanent operator. The goal for the park is not to go a single day without a food offering.
“We don’t want to set a timeline that we have to choose by this time. We feel that we can get operational pretty soon.”
In the mean time, food trucks and pop up cafes galore will fill the void at the park. Oh My Gogi! Food truck is already signed on for August, bringing its signature Korean-Mexican fare and a new breakfast menu.
The Ivy & James earned average reviews during its brief run in the park despite some high expectations brought by its foodie pedigree.
Jamie and Dalia Zelko, the owners of the old Zelko Bistro (which closed back in 2016), came up with The Ivy & James concept. The bygone bistro in a Heights bungalow was a much-loved neighborhood hideaway, but the new spot never reached that status.
The Zelkos’ business partner Edgardo de la Garza owned and operated The Ivy & James — it’s unclear when the Zelkos stepped back.
“It is with a heavy heart that I have decided to close the doors at The Ivy & James,” de la Garza said in a statement.
A New Park Restaurant Future
Now, the search for a new Bellaire park restaurant begins. Evelyn’s Park Conservancy is open to all kinds of potential fits.
“There are some great operators, some great opportunities to reinvent ourselves,” King-Ritter says. “They know that the space is an exciting, cute idea. The potential is having this five-acre park. For the operators, I think it’s their vision and their creativity that if they can see how they can utilize the five acres — it’s limitless.”
King-Ritter believes that a new restaurant can take advantage of the many programs at Evelyn, including live music, art in the park and more.
“The whole purpose of the park is to become part of your every day,” King-Ritter says.
Across town, Levy Park is getting two new restaurants in 2019. Like The Ivy & James, Love Shack and Woodshed Smokehouse bring an appetizing ancestry. But Tim Love’s Levy Park restaurant duo benefits from being franchises, with some additional built-in culinary cred.