Restaurant News

Openings and Closings: State Fare Woodlands Opens, Fegen's Closes

Southern cuisine and an upscale atmosphere await diners in The Woodlands.
Southern cuisine and an upscale atmosphere await diners in The Woodlands. Artwork by State Fare Kitchen & Bar

State Fare, 1900 Hughes Landing, opens April 18 in The Woodlands.The restaurant’s third and newest outpost will occupy a 6,050 square-foot space in Hughes Landing. The first opened in Memorial City in 2016. The brand was acquired by Culinary Khancepts in 2018 and a second State Fare opened in 2020 in Sugar Land.
click to enlarge Humble fried green tomatoes get an upgrade with the addition of lump crab meat. - PHOTO BY STATE FARE KITCHEN & BAR
Humble fried green tomatoes get an upgrade with the addition of lump crab meat.
Photo by State Fare Kitchen & Bar
The menu will be similar to the other locations, serving inventive Southern cuisine for lunch, dinner and weekend brunch. State Fare regulars will still see popular dishes such as the Dill Pickle Dip with house made BBQ Chips, The "Birria" Grilled Cheese, and H-Town Hot Fried Chicken plus brunch items like Avocado Street Corn Toast and the XXL Buttermilk Griddlecake. Guests in the know can also order The Brunch Board, a not-so-secret menu item.

For libations, there are frozen cocktails flights, a Smoked Old Fashioned and a variety of mocktails, like the Madame Blueberry.
click to enlarge Frozen flights and a lake view make for a really happy, happy hour - PHOTO BY STATE FARE KITCHEN & BAR
Frozen flights and a lake view make for a really happy, happy hour
Photo by State Fare Kitchen & Bar
The upscale, yet casual design for the Woodlands restaurant was led by Gensler Houston, who was the architect on the Sugar Land location as well which won the Best New Prototype Award from restaurant development + design magazine. The new location's look is sleek with a focus on white with blue accents and the use of natural wood. The familiar marquee sign near the entrance with the mantra “Good Vibes Only” overlooks the bar area, tying in the new location to the other two.

The main dining room seats just under 200 guests. It leads into the oversized covered patio that overlooks Lake Woodlands and features a fire pit and fans. A private dining room will accommodate up to 30 people and also offers a view of the lake.

The Warwick, 5888 Westheimer opens April 15.  The new concept will occupy the former Houston’s Restaurant space and will be open for dinner service for its first few weeks with lunch service beginning in May, followed by a weekend brunch starting in mid-July.

At the helm of the kitchen is Executive Chef Antoine Ware who has been perfecting The Warwick’s menu for the past year. The New American restaurant will give diners a taste of Southern fare along with dishes that reflect the richness of Ware's Cajun roots. The chef said in a press release, "This is my most exciting menu to date. I grew up cooking this style of food so having the opportunity to showcase refreshed and modern versions of classic dishes is really my specialty."
click to enlarge A modern and chic concept takes over the former Houston's space. - RENDERING BY NHI DESIGN
A modern and chic concept takes over the former Houston's space.
Rendering by NHI Design
Some of those classic favorites include Charbroiled Gulf Oysters topped with a blend of cheeses, seasoned collard greens and garlic butter and served with butter-grilled plank bread. There's also Snapper Orleans, a blackened snapper filet with a signature jambalaya risotto. It's finished with lump crabmeat and a garlic butter sauce for an even more decadent treat. Other seafood classics include Gulf Shrimp and Grits with chargrilled jumbo shrimp atop sweet corn and pimento cheese grits, covered with sriracha garlic butter. For non-seafood options, there's  a classic Grilled Petit Filet and Chicken 713 Pasta, a Statler cut, house-brined breast served with  garlic creme pasta, roasted asparagus and cherry tomatoes.
click to enlarge Pushing Daisies is a colorful  and fruity cocktail. - PHOTO BY RAYDON CREATIVE
Pushing Daisies is a colorful and fruity cocktail.
Photo by Raydon Creative
In homage to the former Houston’s Restaurant, The Warwick will have similar items from the restaurant's heyday such as The Dip, Ware's riff on the famous spinach artichoke dip, and a version of the Houston Hawaiian Ribeye and Thai Noodle Salad.

The bar program offers traditional and modern cocktails, curated by Beverage Director Andrew Grala.

Rob Wright, co-owner, says, "Guests should expect a superb culinary experience paired with a refreshed, modern atmosphere."
click to enlarge Carl Eaves and Lance Fegen share a laugh just a year ago. - PHOTO BY CARLA GOMEZ
Carl Eaves and Lance Fegen share a laugh just a year ago.
Photo by Carla Gomez
Fegen's, 1050 Studewood, announced that it was closing April 12 in a Facebook post, according to the Houston Chronicle. The post did not give a reason but the Chronicle affirmed the closure with a text from chef/partner Lance Fegen saying it was time for him "to get to my next stage and a more purpose driven life."

Fegen's was part of F.E.E.D. TX Restaurant Group, which began with BRC Gastropub, followed by several projects under its Liberty Kitchen brand. In 2020, the group sold its Memorial City and River Oaks locations of Liberty Kitchen to Culinary Khancepts, which also operates State Fare Kitchen & Bar. The partners at F.E.E.D then transitioned its Liberty Kitchen & Oyster Bar on Studewood to Fegen's namesake restaurant in April 2021.
click to enlarge The Chicken Saltimbocca has left the building. - PHOTO BY CARLA GOMEZ
The Chicken Saltimbocca has left the building.
Photo by Carla Gomez
Fegen's offered an Italian American menu that was inspired by the chef's own roots serving Neapolitan-style pizzas, Rago's Sunday Meatball and Chicken Saltimbocca along with steaks and seafood.

As for F.E.E.D. TX Restaurant Group itself, the post on Facebook and its website from Fegen and his partners says, "While it's regrettable that the end of our tenure has come, it's been an honor and a privilege to serve the Heights community and beyond for over fifteen years."

Pierogi Queen, 2047 W. Main, will close May 20, also reported by the Chronicle. The League City restaurant served its Polish fare and popular pierogis for six years and also operated as a vendor at Railway Heights Market.  That location has since closed as well.
Bright lights, big city, big trouble. - PHOTO BY ROBERT J. LERMA
Bright lights, big city, big trouble.
Photo by Robert J. Lerma
J-Bar-M Barbecue, 2201 Leeland, has parted way with its pitmaster Willow Villareal and chef Jasmine Barela, as first reported by the Houston Chronicle. The turmoil within the restaurant also includes the dismissal of its general manager, Edgar Gomez, a couple of weeks ago and also the loss of its consultants Michael Fulmer,  J.C. “Chris” Reid and Jess Timmons. Lindsi Toomey, the wife of owner John Toomey’s grandson, Charles Toomey, said in a comment on Houston Food Finder’s Facebook page that she and her husband are no longer affiliated with the restaurant as well.

The story has been unfolding over the past couple of days and the reasons for the upheaval vary according to who is involved. The Chronicle reported that there were disagreements resulting from John Toomey's bringing in Chris Paul, owner of Cafe Rabelais, and the resulting clashes. Barela accuses Toomey of undermining their leadership by changing decisions that were made in management meetings, according to CultureMap Houston. For its part, the restaurant told CultureMap that  "Even though J-Bar-M Barbecue and the former team members have a difference of opinions, we do wish them the best on their future endeavors."
Barbecue lovers will weep for Willow's smoked meats. - PHOTO BY ROBERT J. LERMA
Barbecue lovers will weep for Willow's smoked meats.
Photo by Robert J. Lerma

The tumult comes on the heels of a recent Top Chef: Houston episode in which the restaurant was the setting and gave enviable exposure to the barbecue joint. Though J-Bar-M Barbecue had only been open since November 2021, it received critical acclaim for the pit skills of Villareal and the delicious sides created by his fiancé, Barela. The restaurant even hosted a watch party March 30 for the Top Chef episode with Villareal and his team doing a whole hog barbecue. Villareal and Barela also represented J-Bar-M at the Houston Barbecue Festival last week.

A representative told CultureMap that Chuy Ortiz will take over Villareal’s post as pitmaster.

click to enlarge Sean Marshall and his family have other plans. - PHOTO BY MW VISUAL PRODUCTIONS
Sean Marshall and his family have other plans.
Photo by MW Visual Productions
Southside Espresso, 904 Westheimer, will close April 16, according to CultureMap Houston. Owner Sean Marshall announced in a Facebook post that the coffee shop was ending its nearly decade run at the Montrose location.

We reached out to Marshall for more information and were told that it was not really his decision to close. Radom Capital, owners of the Montrose Collective, did not renew the lease for Southside Espresso, but instead allowed Uchi to have the space.

In an email to the Houston Press, Marshall said, " After surviving the pandemic and surviving their construction which limited access to my space (which was honestly worse than the pandemic), getting EIDL and PPP loans to make it through the tough times, it's pretty disappointing to go out this way."

However, loyal customers will still be able to find the coffee drinks when Marshall opens his espresso trailer down the road at Montrose Marketplace, 1001 Westheimer. He hopes to be operating at the market by the beginning of May. Its roasting company, Fusion Beans, will still be mailing coffee to customers directly.

Marshall also said that there are future plans for finding a new spot in which to reopen Southside.
click to enlarge Washington Avenue will get even wilder. - PHOTO BY MILKSHAKE CONCEPTS
Washington Avenue will get even wilder.
Photo by Milkshake Concepts
Citizen Houston, 5922 Washington, will launch this spring. The high energy club is part of Milkshake Concepts, the Dallas-based hospitality group behind Citizen Dallas, Vidora, STIRR and Serious Pizza. among others. Now, it's making a foray into the Houston scene because our fair city's appeal is no longer a secret.

The 6,000 square-foot venue will take over the mid-century structure which formerly housed The Classic. Citizen Houston will be a sophisticated and glamorous lounge and bar meant to appeal to celebrities, business moguls, media titans and pro athletes as well as wannabe power players looking for a VIP nightlife experience. With bottle service options ranging in price from $1,500 to $20,000 in an exclusive 18 table area and a members-only rooftop terrace, its target audience is apparently not we simple folk.

However, according to Imran Sheikh, Founder and CEO of Milkshake Concepts, "Citizen is all about letting loose, having fun and celebrating life in a safe haven where everyone feels welcome."

When it debuts, Citizen Houston will open Friday and Saturday from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. with Sunday hours to be added later, including its Sunday School which begins with brunch and progresses through to the evening. Other theme nights will include House Party Fridays and F*ck You, Love You.
click to enlarge Houston Made. Houston Wow. - PHOTO BY SARAH SAID
Houston Made. Houston Wow.
Photo by Sarah Said

Comida Park, 1014 N. Main, has set an opening date for May 7 at Cole's Flea Market in Pearland. The food truck park plans to have 40 different vendors with a wide array of cuisines and foods from which to choose. It's the first food truck park to open at one of the flea markets owned and operated by Denver-based United Flea Markets.

Some of the line-up includes Houston Made Burgers and More, Off the Bone BBQ, Seven Seeds BBQ, Cravin' Poor Boys, Gelu Italian Ice, WJ Mississippi Sausage and Taztee Treatz Desserts, from all over Houston and nearby towns like Dickinson and Rosharon.
Banana Pudding is a Taztee Treat. - PHOTO BY KARRINGTON ANDERSON
Banana Pudding is a Taztee Treat.
Photo by Karrington Anderson
The grand opening weekend will feature live music from The Anchormen and Mariachi Calmecac. Local hit music station KRBE (104.1) and  KTJM (98.5) La Raza will both be broadcasting live from the event. There will be yard games, free face painting, balloon art and koozie giveaways. Families, BFFs and cute couples can take photos at the Comida Park Selfie Station.
click to enlarge A caffeine cheers at Dutch Bros. - PHOTO BY DUTCH BROS. COFFEE
A caffeine cheers at Dutch Bros.
Photo by Dutch Bros. Coffee

Dutch Bros. Coffee, 25250 Highway 290, opened April 8. The coffee drive-thru was founded in 1992 by brothers Dane and Travis Boersma, they of the Dutch Bros. moniker. The brand is on track to open 500 locations across 11 states and Houston is quickly gaining a number of stores across the area with locations in Spring, Katy and Tomball, too. Cypress will get a second Dutch Bros. later this summer at 9415 Barker Cypress.

The staff at Dutch Bros. are called "Broistas" and they roll out hot or cold coffee drinks, smoothies, tea, cocoa and the signature freezes and frosts. There are a few pastry items available as well.

Dutch Bros. also opened a new location in Deer Park March 26.
click to enlarge Chef Thomas Stacy moves to Montrose. - PHOTO BY KAT AMBROSE
Chef Thomas Stacy moves to Montrose.
Photo by Kat Ambrose
ReikiNa, 1817 Woodhead, announced that it moved into its new location April 8. Chef Thomas Stacy relocated the tasting restaurant from CityCentre to a more intimate space in Montrose. The concept is meant to be a detailed experience for a limited number of guests in a comfortable and homey space.

ReikiNa's origins began in Stacy's home where he hosted dinners for friends to keep them connected during the pandemic. That authenticity of communal culinary stimulation and immersive experiences led Stacy to open the CityCentre location to showcase his talents with Japanese cuisine while offering a unique adventure that went beyond just food.

The transition to the new space also means a second seating has been added and guests can choose from a 6 p.m. or 8:30 p.m. seating on Thursday, Friday or Saturday. The seatings are limited to eight guests and include an eight-course tasting menu with sake and wine for $175 per person.
click to enlarge Bear-sized appetites can be satisfied in Pasadena. - PHOTO BY BLACK BEAR DINER
Bear-sized appetites can be satisfied in Pasadena.
Photo by Black Bear Diner
Black Bear Diner, 3497 E. Sam Houston Parkway S., opened in Pasadena April 12. It's the first opening of 2022 for the brand and is part of the company's larger plan for expansion in the Texas market. It's also the company's second location to incorporate building features to support off-site businesses including a vestibule with a separate pick-up window for take-out orders and third party drivers.

The bear-themed eatery offers a family-friendly atmosphere and a selection of classic comfort food like burgers, Mikey's Chicken Pot Pie and sandwiches. Breakfast is the big draw at Black Bear with everything from Sweet Cream Pancakes and Waffles to eggs Benedict to omelettes. The calories are listed for each dish and diners can choose from the gargantuan Bigfoot Chicken Fried Steak and Eggs with a whopping 2580 calories or take it a little easier with the Roasted Red Pepper Chicken Sausage Scramble at 590 calories on the Beary Lite side. The menu also offers options for smaller appetites with its Little Less selections. 
Get your pepperoni pizza fix on the go. - PHOTO BY PEACELY KLAM
Get your pepperoni pizza fix on the go.
Photo by Peacely Klam

Karma Kolache, 12647 Tomball Parkway, will have a grand opening celebration May 7. The family-owned doughnut and kolache shop offers a variety of savory kolache (yes, we know it's really a klobasnek) like boudin, Philly cheesesteak, chorizo, pepperoni pizza and smoked brisket. It also offers macarons, eclairs and other pastries.

The fun begins at 6 a.m. and goes until 3 p.m. with free t-shirts to the first 25 customers plus specials on coffee drinks, macarons and doughnuts. There will also be face painting and balloons for the kiddos.
click to enlarge The Jonah crab snitter is loaded with goodness. - PHOTO BY KAT AMBROSE
The Jonah crab snitter is loaded with goodness.
Photo by Kat Ambrose
Golfstrommen, 401 Franklin, will host a pop-up April 15 at 1 p.m. and April 16 at 7 p.m.,  with Norwegian celebrity chef and co-founder of Golfstrommen, Christopher Haatuft. The seats are limited to ten for each seating and reservations must be made by direct messaging Golfstrommen's Instagram account.

Haatuft will be cooking dishes from his restaurant Lysverket, located in Bergen, Norway. While in Houston, he will also be workshopping new dishes with Golfstrommen's chef de cuisine, Alberto "Biggie" Cruz and co-founder Paul Qui for the rotating menu at Golfstrommen.

Roberta's, 401 Franklin, snuck in quietly to join the POST Market line-up of vendors the last week of March. The pizza restaurant first opened in the Bushwick area of Brooklyn, New York in 2008 and quickly became a trendy spot for pizza lovers who have an obsessive fondness for its dough. The New York Times even published a copycat recipe for the flavorful, chewy crust.

The Neapolitan pizza concept opened a second location in Culver City, Los Angeles in 2018 followed by a second Brooklyn spot in 2020 then expanded with a pop-up in Nashville (and now a permanent spot at Urban Cowboy Public House). Roberta's also opened a location in Singapore in February 2022 at Marina Bay Sands.

Roberta's at POST Market currently has a limited menu.

Vegas Nite Club, 12629 W. Hardy, had its liquor permit revoked by the Texas Alcoholic Beverages Commission after a March 26 investigation discovered a suspected brothel operation. The bar was originally issued an emergency order to stop alcohol sales and service for 90 days after allegations of prostitution and human trafficking. It was soon followed by an order permanently cancelling its liquor license.

The case is currently under investigation and several suspects have been charged with criminal activity. TABC Victim Services offered assistance to the possible victims identified that night. 
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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.