Chris Shepherd and Team Have A Lot On Their Plates in 2018

Chris Shepherd, change agent.
Chris Shepherd, change agent.
Photo by Julie Soefer Photography
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Chris Shepherd is playing the game of Westheimer Monopoly. Starting in April 2018 he aims to flip the restaurants concepts of Underbelly and One Fifth: Steak and introduce the new One Fifth: Mediterranean.

Underbelly is downsizing and re-shaping its theme, One Fifth: Steak is being reincarnated as Georgia James at the previous Underbelly location, and the third concept from Shepherds’ ever-changing One Fifth will shift from One Fifth: Fish to One Fifth: Mediterranean. Got all that?

Shepherd says none of this would work without his team. When he proposed the ambitious change plan every single team member was initially surprised, but instantly on board. He says “its always been [my] thing to give people their own opinions, listen to those opinions, understand them and then move forward.”

Here’s a rundown on his plans:

UB Preserv: set to open April 2018, 1609 Westheimer. UB Preserv will maintain the spirit of the wildly successful Underbelly, but shake the “self-imposed” limitations of sourcing all ingredients locally. That’s not to say they won’t aspire to keep it local, but Shepherd is excited to evolve, as Houston has, and bring in interesting global flavors and products.

He wants UB Preserv to focus on the second and third generation interpretations of these cuisines, as opposed to the classic dishes we all know well. Shepherd states, “when I went to Vietnam I saw a lot of things I hadn’t seen before and that’s because they are evolving too.” UB Preserv will be 80 seats, the size he originally wanted for Underbelly.

UB Preserv will be dinner only and closed on Mondays.

Georgia James: set to open mid to late 2018, 1100 Westheimer. As Shepherd intended, One Fifth: Houston would not only serve as a yearly changing restaurant that would keep guests stimulated, but as a way for him to test different restaurant models. “I fell in love with One Fifth: Steak, the extravagance of it, the fun and playfulness of it.”

Georgia James, named for his parents, will have old school fine dining touches like white tablecloths and tableside service. The food will center around cast-iron, butter-basted, steaks and cold seafood. Collaborative Products along with partner Kevin Floyd will completely re-design the space to be more “sleek… with a lot of glass and steel.”

Georgia James will be open 7 days a week for dinner only.

One Fifth: Mediterranean: will open September 1, 2018, 1658 Westheimer.
While originally slated to be One Fifth: Fish, Shepherd felt like that theme would be too limiting. They decided upon One Fifth: Mediterranean instead, and among seafood offerings they will highlight the broad spectrum of Mediterranean cuisine; and yes, there will be lamb.

One Fifth: Mediterranean will be open 7 days a week for dinner only.

The Hay Merchant: 1100 Westheimer. Oh, and if that wasn’t enough, The Hay Merchant is opening for lunch in April 2018.

The Hay Merchant is open from 11 to 2 a.m., 7 days a week.

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