Restaurant News

Houston Gets a Brewpub; Tyson Cole Talks Uchi

Normally, we reserve restaurant opening and closings news for our weekly Friday roundups. But some news is too good to sit on, like the announcement from Scott Metzger -- owner of Freetail Brewing Co. -- that the San Antonio brewpub is expanding to Houston.

A deal has been inked that will place Houston's own Freetail Brewing Co. in an historic downtown building, which Metzger has declined to name. But it's a building with at least 20,000 square feet for the brewpub, which doesn't leave too many options. I've personally got my fingers crossed for the old Cotton Exchange location just off Market Square.

"When I started this company I would never have envisioned a Houston location," stated Metzger in a press release. "But through the diligent efforts of the Downtown District and the city's vocal craft beer fans, I've begun to fall in love with the city and I am looking forward to many beers there."

The plan for the brewpub includes three floors of restaurant and bar space, as well as a store where customers can purchase growlers of beer, among other merchandise. Freetail will also have a game room as well as extra space which Metzger hopes will one day accommodate wholesalers if and when HB 660 ever passes.

Despite the closure of Houston's previous brew pub, Two Rows, and the overall dearth of brewpubs in our city, Metzger is optimistic. "A lot of folks talk about the trail of failed brewpubs that litters Houston's past, but I don't think a brewpub is something that can't thrive here. I look at the amazing following that St. Arnold has built over its incredible lifespan and see what's possible."

He continued: "Organizations like Girls Pint Out, the Foam Rangers, the Bay Area Mashtronauts and Houston beer enthusiasts share a lot of the credit for this decision. They took to Twitter and Facebook and made an effort to show how much they wanted Freetail, and I heard that message loud and clear."

The Freetail brewpub will open in spring 2012 and will be hiring about 100 people, so get your bartending resumes ready if you want to get in on the ground floor.

And in other exciting news, Chef Tyson Cole talked to Eater Austin's Paula Forbes fresh off his James Beard win (tie?) about the direction for the Houston version of Uchi. About the new location of his Austin sushi restaurant, Cole says:

We've gained some momentum, we've found some incredible people. We just want to continue to get better at Uchi every day. It just made sense to see if we could open a place outside of Austin. Houston made the most logical sense. The Houston space will be an Uchi, it won't be an Uchiko. It will be 97% identical to Uchi here. Just slightly bigger, not much at all. It will have a private dining room, which Uchi doesn't. But other than that, the menu's the same. Hopefully people will feel like they're at Uchi, but in Houston. We'll ship probably six people from Houston to here? It'll hopefully, knock on wood, it'll be close to the same. And Uchiko will be the only Uchiko ever.

There's more on Houston in the interview, so be sure to head over to Eater Austin to check the rest of it out, then try to decide which Texas-based import you're more excited about: sushi or beer.

Like Cole, I'm happy with a tie.

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Katharine Shilcutt