Restaurant News

Openings and Closings: Fat Boy's Pizza Opens, Maize Has Closed

Pizza pies and everything nice.
Pizza pies and everything nice. Photo by Sam Hanna
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Pizza pies and everything nice.
Photo by Sam Hanna

Fat Boy's Pizza, 10445 W. Grand Parkway, opens January 17, 2023 in Richmond.  It's the first location in Texas for the pizza restaurant that bills itself as the "WORLD’S BIGGEST SLICE". Founded in Metairie, Louisiana, the brand first announced its expansion to Texas in May 2022 with Houston being its first Texas city foray. It plans to open four to five additional locations throughout the Greater Houston area with the second arriving in Katy early this summer.

The 4,800-square-foot restaurant at The Grand at Aliana also boasts a 1,500-square-foot covered patio. Families of all shapes and sizes can enjoy a variety of appetizers like chicken wings, baked meatballs and jumbo pretzels. There are several salads as well.
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There goes our New Year's resolutions.
Photo by Sam Hanna
The restaurant's pizza comes in 10-inch and 16-inch sizes plus its whopping 30-inch pie. It also sells pizza by the slice. Options include standard pizzas such as Original Cheese, Pepperoni and Tomato & Basil plus more over-the-top pies such as The Hog with pulled pork, bacon, its signature smoky hog sauce, pickled jalapenos, Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ sauce with mozzarella and cheddar cheeses. There is a veggie pizza, a white pizza and even a shrimp-topped pizza.

Fat Boy's is also known for its 2-Foot Pizza Challenge, an eating contest that challenges a guest to finish a two-foot slice of pizza in less than 7 minutes.

There are plenty of soft drinks plus a full bar, along with a variety of frozen daiquiris that can also be ordered to-go by the gallon.
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Memorial loses an authentic Mexican restaurant.
Photo by Becca Wright
Maize, 14795 Memorial. announced it was closed for good January 3 of this year.  It first opened in December 2021 in the former space of Carmelo's Ristorante Italiano. The authentic Mexican concept had Chef Fabian Saldana, the former executive chef of Hugo Ortega's Xochi, at the helm with powerhouse restaurateurs Mark Cox and Carmelo Mauro offering support and consulting.

Saldana created a menu of authentic yet modern Mexican dishes that included tamales, empanadas, slow-cooked barbacoa de res and carne asada plus a dessert menu with treats like Corn Tres Leches. He used nixtamalization for his corn products as a way to keep traditional Mexican culinary heritage alive. He also pushed the envelope with his Insectos menu that introduced Houstonians to dishes using insects such as grasshoppers and moth larvae.

His time at Maize allowed Saldana to highlight various regional cuisines of Mexico with everything from traditional street food to coastal seafood. As for his time at Maize, the chef says, "I grew up watching my grandmother and mother cook in their kitchens in Mexico and that laid the foundation for where I am today. Maize’s closure has been tough for me and my team, but we all see this as an opportunity to continue growing in our craft. I am so grateful for the team and customers at Maize that made the last year a dream come true for me."
Felix Florez (left) poses with Chef Jordan Economy.
Photo by Emily Jaschke
Cherry Block Smokehouse, 1223 W. 34th, had an even quicker shuttering with its last day of service December 31, 2022. It debuted at The Stomping Grounds in Garden Oaks September 7, 2022. It came from Felix Florez, owner of Falcon Lake Farms and Cherry Block Market. He had previously operated Cherry Block Craft Butcher + Kitchen at Bravery Chef Hall until it closed in January 2021 to focus on new projects.
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We will miss the BBQ Sandwich at Cherry Block Smokehouse.
Photo by Lorretta Ruggiero
In a post on Instagram, the restaurant cited "insurmountable losses and delays leading up to the opening" that affected its operating capital. The post further stated, "We pushed forward, but by the time we opened our doors in mid-September, our operations were plagued too much to overcome in a short time."

As for Florez' Cherry Block Craft Butcher and Texas Market, 53035 Highway Boulevard, a staff member told the Houston Press by phone that "it is alive and doing well", so fans of the high quality meat and local products are still in luck. So, grab a cooler or two and make the drive to Katy for some pasture-raised beef, wild-caught seafood and craft-butchered cuts to prepare at home. Or just load up on some smoked meats and locally-prepared foods for tonight's dinner.

Bodega Bellaire, 5202 Bissonet, also closed this year, January 3. The announcement was made via Instagram, according to The bottle shop, owned by Gina and Joe Stayshich, first opened in November 2021. It sold wine, beer, cheese and gourmet foods in addition to CBD products and health items. 
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Chef Manabu Horiuchi is opening a sushi-forward concept.
Photo by Julie Soefer
Katami, 2701 W. Dallas, is shooting to open spring 2023 in the former home of Vincent's, one of a trio of concepts from the late Vincent Mandola that closed in August 2022. The new restaurant comes from the team at the highly acclaimed Japanese restaurant Kata Robata including Chef Manabu "Hori" Horiuchi and Yun Cheng. The duo are opening their second restaurant together thirteen years after the debut of Kata Robata.

While Chef Hori says guests will still find Japanese standards such as ramen and robata on the menu, the restaurant will really shine with its sushi offerings. He said in a press release, "I will share my first love —sushi — as a gift and a show of gratitude to my adopted city of Houston where I've made my home and built a career."

Fans of Kata Robata can expect the same sort of quality ingredients at the new concept with Chef Hori drawing on his longstanding friendship with Japanese fishmongers to have fresh fish flown in from Japan. With a blend of Japanese and local ingredients, Chef Hori plans to create modern interpretations of traditional Japanese dishes like Wagyu Sukiyaki which is inspired by Japanese hot pot but will be cooked tableside. Other menu items planned include hot stone abalone and uni dashi, a foie gras PBJ and Toro tartare with kimchi and Japanese milkbread.

In addition, Katami's offerings will include luxury indulgences such as caviar service, truffles and foie gras. There will be three to five A5 Wagyu dishes with beef imported from Japan. There will also be a sushi omakase without hot items.

Set in a modern space orchestrated by Abel Design Group, a featured bar and lounge will showcase an expansive bar program with craft cocktails, a curated list of Japanese whisky and an extensive sake menu. The wine list will offer both accessible and reserve options.
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BB's Tex-Orleans Montrose has new late-nite digs.
Photo by Kate Mclean
BB's Tex-Orleans, 2701 Montrose, has relocated to 515 Westheimer. The original Montrose location closed January 9 and quickly reopened in its new space, according to its Facebook post. The original location operated in the small Montrose space for 15 years and was a popular late-night destination in the area for po-boys and Cajun fare. With the new location, there will be a full bar and a more extensive menu. The Westheimer spot will also allow it to serve raw oysters. According to the Facebook post, the final touches are being put on the outdoor patio.

The late night hours will still be in effect for the new location, according to CultureMap Houston. BB's will begin serving crawfish January 16.

The relocation of the original BB's comes right on the heels of the announcement of its second location in San Antonio, making it the 14th overall with 12 in the Greater Houston area.
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Common Bond is known for its bread and pastries but so is its new partner.
Photo by Andrew Hemingway
Common Bond announced January 6 a new partnership with Garza Management Group as CEO George Joseph takes a step back from day to day operations. Joseph has been with Common Bond since December 2016 when he and business partner Johnny Carrabba bought the company from founders Brad and Kathy Sanders. Joseph became CEO in 2018. The following year, Carrabba stepped away from the company to focus on other restaurant projects.

First opened in 2014, the brand now has 11 locations of its three different concepts: Common Bond Bistro, Common Bond Brasserie and Common Bond On-The-Go. The new partnership will have Garza Management Group taking the lead on operations and future expansion. Garza Management is the local restaurant group behind El Bolillo Bakery making it a powerful collaborator with Common Bond's stellar bakery and pastry program.
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There's only one Common Bond Brasserie now but expansion may bring more.
Photo by Andrew Hemingway
Executive Chef Jason Gould will continue to develop and manage the kitchens and the menus for Common Bond. CEO Joseph will maintain majority interest in the company but his new focus will be on his addiction and treatment facilities, Positive Recovery Centers.

Victor Garza of Garza Management knows Texans love Common Bond and is thrilled to take it to the next level. He says, "We are energized to grow this brand while not only maintaining the quality and customer service that Houstonians appreciate but improving it."
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Smoked Chicken Sandwiches bring something new to fast food.
Photo by Chick N Max
Chick N Max, 12312 Interstate 45, is expected to open March 3 in Willis. The fried chicken brand, founded in 2017, has three locations in Wichita, Kansas with another planned for that city, soon. The Willis store will be the first expansion to Texas as part of a 25-unit development agreement with Aaron Johnson. With nearly three decades of experience in the franchise industry with names such as Bennigan's, Smashburger and Mod Pizza, Johnson plans to open two more locations in the next 18 to 24 months and is currently seeking franchise partners to develop the remaining planned units in the Greater Houston area.

Johnson admits the chicken segment of the restaurant space is a crowded one but says he was sold on Chick N Max after the first bite. He said in a press release, "The brand's made-from-scratch menu has something for everyone, with options for those looking to indulge to guests looking for a healthier take on traditional fast-casual chicken offerings."

The menu offers Family Meals of wings and tenders, fried tender sandwiches, smoked chicken sandwiches, popcorn chicken and chicken by the leg, breast quarter or half. There are 11 sauces to pair with the chicken including buttermilk garlic, jalapeno lime, habanero pepper and gravy. Sides include fries, onion rings, mac and cheese, smoked white beans and mashed potatoes.

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Meat, glorious meat makes a sandwich a meal at The Smoke.
Photo by Shannon O'Hara
Finn Hall, 712 Main, is adding three new concepts to its food hall. Located on the ground floor of Jones on Main, it already features businesses such as Papalo Taqueria, Pizza Zquare, Maui Bento and Greenway Coffee. Joining the lineup of established businesses will be Fire Noodz, Carol Kay's and The Smoke from chef Reginald Scott.

The Smoke, which has already softly opened, will have its grand opening February 6 bringing its smoked meats and tasty sides to the downtown food hall. Some of those items include 48-hour brined smoked chicken wings, jumbo turkey legs and Peyton's Pickles. For vegans, this smoke meat concept has the Smokey Bowl.
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Birria ramen has exploded in popularity and is on the Fire Noodz menu.
Photo by Shannon O'Hara
Fire Noodz will make its debut at Finn Hall sometime in February. It's the first venture for Chris Nguyen, Sonny Nguyen and Mark Tiu since they parted with Oh My Gogi. True to the fire in its name, the spicy concept will offer Thai curry ramen, spicy soy sauce noodles and fried cheesy fire balls. Italy meets Korea with its Creamy Gochujang that combines spaghetti, Italian sausage and parmesan cheese with creamy gochujang, sesame seeds, green onions and fried garlic.

Carol Kay's is a new culinary, and long anticipated, project from husband and wife Shannen and Stacey Tune,  chefs/owners of the popular Craft Burger. The menu incorporates Southern fare with Caribbean cuisine in dishes like smothered biscuits and gravy, cornbread beef has and eggs and jerk chicken. There are also bowls such as curried chicken rice and quinoa salmon. It's shooting to open in February 2023 as well.

Golden Chick, 747 Louetta, opened January 10 in Spring. The new location is owned and operated by Ayaz Ali who is a first-time franchisee for the brand. Some of its menu favorites include Golden Tenders, fried or roasted chicken sandwiches, a chicken salad sandwich, crispy legs and thighs plus sides like green beans, fried okra, battered French fries and mashed potatoes. Currently, it has a limited time special, the Big & Wicked Sandwich, made with a crispy fried chicken breast, Lotta Zing spice, Lotta Zing sauce and five pickle chips on an extra-large bun until February 18.

Dave's Hot Chicken, 21690 US Highway 59, will celebrate its grand opening in New Caney January 13. With a funky and hip interior, the space is ready to welcome fans of hot chicken and cool vibes. The New Caney spot makes number 6 for the Greater Houston area. Since its first Houston location on Westheimer in September 2021, the Los Angeles-founded Nashville-style hot chicken chain has quickly taken off in H-Town and its suburbs. Dave's most recently opened a location in Spring November 25.

Crumbl Cookies, 12073 N. Grand Parkway, will have its grand opening celebration in East New Caney January 13, beginning at 8 a.m. The owners of the new location, Dan and Angela Stansel, Shawn Hulse and Taylor Thayne will be on hand, along with their crew, to open the store. There will 6 of its more than 200 weekly rotating flavors available including its award-winning Milk Chocolate Chip. For its first week in business the cookie shop will also have Chocolate Crumb, Honey Bun, Raspberry Donut, Cowboy Cookie and Classic Pink Sugar.

For the first five business days of opening, customers may order in person. Beginning January 25, delivery, curbside pickup, catering and nationwide shipping will be available via the Crumbl app and online at 
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Lorretta Ruggiero is a Houston Press freelance writer based in Cypress, Texas. She loves entertaining her family and friends with her food and sparkling wit. She is married to Classic Rock Bob and they have two exceptionally smart-aleck children.