Restaurant Impossible Comes to Gratifi to Save the Struggling Restaurant

Pat Walsh, left, and Kevin Strickland, right, outside Gratifi, which is getting a makeover this week.
Pat Walsh, left, and Kevin Strickland, right, outside Gratifi, which is getting a makeover this week.
Photo by Katharine Shilcutt

Change is coming to the little eatery once again. After 20 years in business, Ziggy's Healthy Grill at the corner of Fairview and Taft shuttered briefly in late 2012 to get a facelift. When it re-debuted, it did so as Gratifi, a new-ish restaurant with an increased focus on craft beers and a decreased focus on the term "healthy."

Gratifi Kitchen and Bar serves good, simple comfort food, and the owner, Kevin Strickland, is a devoted animal lover, so he welcomes your four-legged friends to the outdoor patio. Back when Ziggy's became Gratifi, Strickland told the Press:

"Ziggy's has been around since the late '80s, and in the '80s, when Ziggy's started, 'health' food in Houston was sort of a novelty. It was the city of chicken-fried steak, barbecue, Tex-Mex. But over time, a lot more places have grown smarter about doing healthier food and it's not a niche for us anymore. We weren't growing. It was time to make a change."

Unfortunately, that change hasn't completely worked out for the small restaurant tucked into an historic home in Montrose. And that's where the Food Network and Robert Irvine come in.

On January 22 and 23, chef and restaurateur Irvine and his crew from the Food Network television show Restaurant Impossible will take over Gratifi and transform it into something (hopefully) more popular and profitable. The crew has $10,000, two days and a group of local volunteers to turn Gratifi into something that will be, well, gratifying once again.

Strickland says he's not able to discuss plans for the space because the producers don't want details made public until the show airs. He and the show are inviting diners to the grand re-opening, though, which will take place on January 23 at 7 p.m. Reservations are recommended, so call the restaurant at 832-203-5950 to make sure you can get in.

This is not the first time Restaurant Impossible has come to the area to lend a hand. In early 2012, the crew descended upon the Pelican Grill in Seabrook to help the ailing mom and pop joint. Though the reviews online are still mixed, the proprietors reported a 40 percent increase in income as a result of the makeover the exposure the show brought to them.

We'll find out on Thursday night if the same magic that Irvine and company brought to the Pelican Grill can help save Gratifi. Stay tuned.

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