Hughie’s Tavern & Vietnamese Grille announced the opening of a second location in the former space of Foreign Correspondents and Canard at 4721 North Main. Co-owner, Phillip Pham told the Houston Press that the move should be a simple turn-key situation. The space is “ready for move-in with a few cosmetic changes, maybe some painting and adding more wood to create a warmer space,” he said.
Pham has enlisted local mixologist, Michael Molina (Moving Sidewalk, Wooster’s Garden) to help with the menu on the beverage portion of the business. The Canard space will remain a full bar and Molina will be an integral component in bar operations. A name for the bar side has not been determined yet.
Pham added that it “took a village to create and make Hughie’s a success. His uncle, Thinh Hoang is the “true mastermind behind the menu and management.” With the continued support and effort from his family, Pham hopes to be ready to open the new location in three to four months.
Chef Travis Lenig, along with partner Christopher “Chico” Ramirez, opened his first restaurant, Field & Tides at 705 East 11th on February 13. According to a press release, “Field” is represented by locally sourced vegetables, pork, poultry, beef and game, while “Tides” is seafood that is locally sourced as well, with an emphasis on the Gulf. The upscale casual restaurant is only a few blocks from Liberty Kitchen & Oyster Bar, where Lenig had spent the last six years as it became one of the most popular restaurants in the Heights.
The design for the 54-seat dining room is a collaboration between Ramirez’s wife, Wyndy Ramirez of Wynne Design Works and interior designer and craftsman Gino Vian of Merchant & Market. The patio is spacious and seats up to 24 guests. Come spring, there are plans to open the gas station next door as a separate lounge and bar serving wine, beer, cocktails and light bites.
The menu looks promising with interesting items like pimento cheese fritters, Gulf coast smoked fish dip and entrees like the venison roasted rack with braised red cabbage and a bourbon peppercorn demi.
Austin import Ramen Tatsu-Ya announced that it will open at 1722 California in Montrose on Monday, February 22. This is the Japanese soul food restaurant's third location, and the first location outside of Austin. Owners and executive chefs Tatsu Aikawa and Takuya “Tako” Matsumoto bring a menu of signature items including tonkotsu and vegetarian ramen, appetizers including gyozo (pork dumplings), sweet and sour-style brussels sprouts, and more to the fun space, which captures the vibe of "Japanese ramen meets DJ culture." Ramen Tatsu-Ya will be open daily from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Paul Qui, Top Chef and James Beard award winner behind East Side King in Austin shared a hint of his plans to come to Houston with Instagram followers. Qui had been in the news back in March for allegedly assaulting his girlfriend. CultureMap Houston reported that the structure in the Instagram photo matched a building going up at 520 Westheimer.
On February 15, Qui confirmed with the Houston Chronicle that Aqui, which will feature “wood and wok cooking,” will open in spring or early summer of this year in the “Mid-trose” area between Montrose and Midtown.
On Sunday, February 12, My Fit Foods announced the closure of all stores. The healthy pre-packaged meals chain operated more than 40 retail stores in more than five states, according to its LinkedIn page. The Austin-based company was founded in 2006 and had been a leader in the healthy foods market.
My Fit Foods officials released the following statement:
Since 2006, My Fit Foods has been on a mission to make healthy eating easy and accessible for everyone. We've enjoyed getting to know you, and we are proud that we have made a difference in many of your lives.
It is with a heavy heart that we announce the closure of all our stores. We know that you have depended upon us to support your healthy habits, and we are deeply sorry for any inconvenience our closure may have caused you.
In the days following the announcement, customers who still had active accounts with the company were upset and disappointed. Snap Kitchen, a similar company offering healthy meal options has stepped up to help those customers, as reported by FOX 7 Austin.
“My Fit Foods customers that come in with their My Fit Food loyalty card, we're giving $10 off their next order and it's an opportunity for us to introduce really great food, we're constantly innovating our menu,” said Snap Kitchen CEO David Kirchhoff.
News about the Texans Grille’s possible shuttering came as early as last Tuesday, February 7 in chatter in Facebook groups. On February 9, the Chronicle confirmed the closure of the upscale sports bar at 12848 Queensbury Lane in City Centre. A message on the restaurant’s site stated:
"We are closed permanently. We thank you for your 5+ years of patronage. If you have gift card questions, please email a copy of the front and the back of the card and a copy of the original purchase receipt, along with an address for refund to email@example.com."
The Express Rolls at 11805 Westheimer has closed. The storefront in the Starbucks shopping strip shared with the H-E-B at Kirkwood and Westheimer has been dark for months. The place opened in October 2016, but has sported temporary closure signs “due to renovations,” on its doors throughout December, according to posts from customers and now appears to have closed for good. Possibly more Express Roll locations have closed for the same reason. A Facebook post mentioned that a diner “went to the one in the tunnel, Memorial, and Westheimer. All three were closed for the same reason.” No one could be reached to confirm.
Swamplot reported a new pizza franchise opened in Richmond at 5650 West Grand Parkway South, suite 100. A manager at Urban Bricks Pizza Co. told the Press that it celebrated its grand opening on January 28. She also mentioned that this was the first store to open in the Houston area, but future plans include at least a dozen new locations.
A reader’s tip noted construction and signage for a new Shipley’s behind the McDonald’s and Exxon on the corner of Wirt Road and Interstate 10.
Galiana’s Bakery & Cafe is set to open by mid-February at 24110 Highway 290, suite 500, in Cypress. Community Impact reported that Houston restaurateur David Herrera, who also owns Dario’s Steakhouse & Seafood and four Alicia’s Mexican Grille locations, plans to offer artisanal breads, international pastries and desserts as well as a breakfast and lunch menu at the new bakery and café. Herrera named the restaurant after his granddaughters.
A photo posted on Houston Streetwise shows signage for a new taco joint called Sonora Tacos & Hot Dogs at 1801 Richmond. Additional information is not available at this time.
Bosscat Kitchen & Libations will open at 4310 Westheimer on February 22. Based out of Newport Beach, California, owners John “JT” Reed, Leslie Nguyen and Vinnie Capizzi and their team relocated to Houston last summer. The Press met the Bosscat team over the summer at the Second Annual Spiked by the Scoop event at City Centre where the newcomers presented a delicious “slushee” style libation with Yellow Rose bourbon, house infused lemon simple, angostura bitters, fresh rosemary and fresh citrus.
The whiskey bar will feature more than 260 offerings ranging from local whiskeys such as Yellow Rose, Balcones, Herman Marshall and TX, to rare, sought-after allocations from around the world, according to the press release. The menu will include American comfort-foods and Houston-inspired dishes like pork belly poutine and the Bosscat Press, with slow-roasted, barbecued pull pork and ham with cheese, house made pickles and mustard on a baguette.
The Chronicle reported that Ken Caldwell, vice president of development for Your Pie, believes there is potential for the greater Houston area to support 20 or more locations. There is one location at 1625 Main in Downtown which opened in early 2016. The company is seeking new franchisees for a regional expansion and currently has over 40 locations across the Southeast, Midwest and western United States.
Denver-based chain, The Lost Cajun is opening a Houston location at 7042 FM 1960 East in Humble. Houston franchisee owner Greg Schwalbach told the Houston Business Journal that he plans to open 11 more stores over the next several years. A restaurant representative told the Press to expect a late march to early April opening. The menu offers traditional Cajun dishes like gumbo, jambalaya, po-boys and even beignets.
An eagle-eyed reader noted that signage is finally up for the forthcoming Jinya Ramen on the north side of the Katy Freeway access road between Westgreen and Mason in Katy. Cherry Adjchavanich of Katy has been very excited about the noodle house opening in her neck of the woods. According to an April 2016 post on the Katy360 site, Jinya plans to open in the Mason Creek Development alongside Fadi’s Mediterranean Grill, which is scheduled to open early this fall.
Also in Mason Creek is Tom + Chee, 21788 Katy Freeway, suite 500, a new vegetarian/vegan restaurant chain that opened on February 13. A representative of Tom + Chee told the Press that this is a soft opening phase over the next four weeks and they plan to announce a grand opening thereafter. Most of the items on the menu are created for vegetarians, but diners can substitute a meat protein if so desired.
Peska Seafood Culture at 1700 Post Oak has rebranded as Peska Seafood & Steaks. This week, Chef Steve Haug (of Del Friscos) will introduce new menu items featuring Prime Steaks and sides. Don’t fret, favorites like the miso Bacalao (Chilean sea bass), tostada caramelo (similar to tuna tartar), and salt crusted branzino from the former chef (Omar Pereney) will still be available on the menu. A press release reveals that the restaurant will have a new large-U shaped bar with lounge furniture to allow Peska to expand its happy hour business. Peska reopened to the public on February 10.
Chapman & Kirby, 2118 Lamar, announced plans to soft open in three to four weeks and celebrate a grand opening in mid-April. The upscale restaurant, lounge and private venue hosted a private NFL media party during the Super Bowl a couple of weekends ago for more than 500 guests.
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The venue is one of many new businesses to open as part of the 60,000-square foot mixed-use space in East Downtown called East Village. Named in honor of Houston’s founding brothers, John Kirby Allen and Augustus Chapman Allen, Chapman & Kirby will further pay homage to Houston’s history and heritage through its menu, which will include items named for local historical landmarks.
Bernie’s Burger Bus posted exciting news on its Facebook page: “Coming in April 2017!!!” An employee at the Bellaire location told the Press that the tentative opening date is April 10. He also mentioned that one big difference between the Heights location and the other two (there is also a store in Katy) is that the new store will have a full bar. The employee went on to say that there have been multiple management meetings to test and create cocktails for the new bar.
Houston Business Journal reported that Austin-based Kerbey Lane Café plans to expand to Houston. Founded in 1980, the restaurant operated out of a small house on Kerbey Lane in north-central Austin. Today the casual cafe chain currently has seven restaurants in Austin. Kerbey Lane is known for its pancakes and its award-winning Kerbey queso.
That's it for this week's restaurant openings and closings! Leave us a comment or send us an email to let us know if we missed something.