Restaurants / Closings

Powerful Restaurant Family’s Tex-Mex Spinoff Spot Shutters After Just Five Months

New Hip Client Base Never Materializes

BY // 06.30.17

Sometimes more isn’t always better. It’s a lesson the El Tiempo Group — which is responsible for beloved concepts such as Tex-Mex institution El Tiempo and steak haven Laurenzo’s — learned the hard way. The group is closing its ninth restaurant concept, Laurenzo’s Bar and Grill, a mere five months after its debut.

The Midtown restaurant, which opened in January in the former Republic Saloon space, debuted as a mashup of sorts, showcasing favorites from Laurenzo’s Prime Rib and El Tiempo Cantina in a casual setting.

The Laurenzo Family even garnered a new partner for the project, bringing in Landmark Houston Hospitality Group, which is responsible for popular Houston restaurants such as Hearsay Gastro Lounge and 51Fifteen at Saks. The alliance was driven by a desire to attract a younger clientele — a perfect fit for its Midtown surrounds.

“We are excited to be working with Rolando Laurenzo and his talented team in bringing this concept to Midtown,” Landmark Hospitality’s COO Joe Lenahan said before Laurenzo’s January opening. “Their 55-year tradition of excellence and values ingrained from Tommy and Ninfa Laurenzo is unparalleled.”

But despite Laurenzo’s solid menu — which featured everything from fried oyster nachos to classic Sunday gravy prepared by chef Donny Navarrete— the remodeled space, and the expansive bar, the hopes for a new, hip client base never came to fruition.

“Regrettably, [Laurenzo’s Bar and Grill] never generated sufficient sales to be viable. That’s all,” Roland Laurenzo said.

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While chef Navarrete’s food was consistent (I’m still dreaming about his crab claws appetizer), the hodge-podge menu seemed to generate some confusion with diners. That coupled with the massive 10,000 square-foot space and tucked-away location may have ultimately contributed to the eatery’s untimely demise.

Luckily, fans of the brand can still visit one of the Laurenzo family’s eight other restaurant locations.

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