A reader tip led us to call BRC Gastropub, 519 Shepherd, where an employee told us that tonight is its last service. “We’re closing to focus on the Liberty Kitchen concepts,” she said. “Also, our new Treehouse location will be opening soon.”
That's not the only reason it's closing. According to a statement we received shortly afterward from a representative of the owner, F.E.E.D. TX restaurant group, the BRC Gastropub space will be used as a catering and private event facility.
F.E.E.D. TX has not only been working on the aforementioned and long-awaited Liberty Kitchen at the MetroNational Treehouse building, at 963 Bunker Hill, but has also opened in the past year a new Liberty Kitchen in Garden Oaks and a fast-casual concept called Little Liberty in Rice Village. These were in addition to two well-established Liberty Kitchen locations, the original in the Heights and the Liberty Kitchen & Oysterette in River Oaks. Yet another is in Austin, the company’s first restaurant outside of Houston.
The official statement reads as follows:
“We are often told by our guests that they wish we had larger private event rooms and did catering. This space will allow us to design events that marry our signature culinary offerings with their personal wishes. There has been a shortage of smaller event spaces that have a unique feel. We feel that this will fill a need for something more individualized and personal that people are looking for. The decision to take the space in this direction is part of the evolution of F.E.E.D TX as we continue to develop new concepts and
“We want to thank all our loyal BRC guests for their patronage. And look forward to seeing them at a new address in the future. Our goal is to find a perfect neighborhood location that serves great food and a curated selection of local and imported beers and ales. And yes, the BRC will go along for the ride!”
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BRC Gastropub stirred controversy early after its inception and that wasn’t only because of the name. The acronym stands for Big Red Cock. Indeed, the logo was a red rooster, but the phrase was a not-so-subtle innuendo.
More controversial than the name was the F.E.E.D. TX decision in 2011 to ban Houston Chronicle restaurant critic Alison Cook from its restaurants in response to her unfavorable review of BRC Gastropub. As far as we know, that’s a decision the company never relented on, at least not publicly (and Cook certainly has plenty of other restaurants to visit).
It wasn’t just Cook, however, who found flaws with the food. The Houston Press restaurant critic at the time, Katharine Shilcutt, wasn’t impressed either, citing consistently bland fare. “Is the kitchen afraid of salt? Did they run out of it?" she wrote. "Do we, as a city, need to pool our pocket change and buy Jeff Axline a pallet of Morton's kosher salt? If so, I will certainly be the first to throw in a donation, because the food could be so much better if only it were properly seasoned.” (Axline hasn’t been at BRC for years, by the way, and he seems to be doing well, as he’s now executive chef and director of food and beverage for Benchmark Resorts & Hotels.)
All of that, though, is water that went under the proverbial bridge five years ago. It seems that all memories of BRC Gastropub as a restaurant will also soon be part of past history.