You're damned if you do and you're damned if you don't. That's the conundrum faced by owners of successful and long-running restaurants when deciding if they should "update" their establishment. If you change too much, you face a possible mutiny by loyal customers. If you don't change at all, you're seen as hopelessly old-fashioned.
That must have been a consideration when Sara Brook, owner of three Houston Dessert Gallery locations, decided to move her flagship store from its original location at 3600 Kirby to a freshly renovated strip center at the corner of Kirby and Richmond. Launched in 1995, the original flagship store occupied an unlikely location at the back of an unremarkable shopping center on Kirby between Richmond and West Alabama. The quirky location added to the charm -- you had to make an effort to find it, and once you did, you were paid off with some of the best cookies, cakes and coffee in Houston.
But the original shopping center was showing its age, and the nightmarish construction currently happening on Kirby Drive couldn't have helped business. The new location, though not quite as quirky, adds more parking as well as high visibility from the busy Richmond-Kirby intersection. It also helps that the new location is adjacent to the highly-regarded Kata Robata Sushi -- it's easy to imagine that its customers would be tempted to walk the few feet to Dessert Gallery for a slice of cake and cup of coffee.
The interior of the new location is reminiscent of the old -- lots of purple colors, funky chandeliers, flat screen TVs, booths and high tables with stools. All-in-all, quite welcoming and comfortable. The sidewalk in front of the shop is populated with a few tables and should provide a lively atmosphere for guests when temperatures cool down.
The new location includes several menu and operational changes. New items include filled cupcakes such as the Triple Chocolate (milk chocolate cake with white chocolate filling and dark chocolate ganache), a wider selection of brownies, and tres leches cake.
Hot, fresh-from-the-oven cookies will be available for the first time. They will of course be matched up with cold glasses of milk. Brook will notify customers when the hot cookies are available through Twitter -- follow her tweets and announcements at http://twitter.com/dessertgallery.