Openings & Closings: Frank's Backyard Opens, Snooze Wakes Up the Heights

The refurbished 1970's Airstream bar awaits.
The refurbished 1970's Airstream bar awaits. Photo courtesy of Frank's Backyard

Frank's Backyard
,413 Travis, had its soft opening January 30, celebrating its debut, appropriately enough, with a pizza party, according to the Houston Chronicle. Deborah and Eddie Love own Frank's Pizza downtown and decided to expand their enterprise by adding a comfortable neighborhood beer garden in the space abutting their pizza place. After years of serving New York-style slices to downtown Houston's late night party people, it only made sense to create a venue next door. Their son, Cody Hastings is serving as General Manager.

The open air, astroturfed patio first greets customers with its sleek fire pits and bright red Adirondack chairs. The 1970's Airstream trailer turned coolest-bar-ever draws the eye to its multitude of taps, 46 of which are beer. There are also two wines on tap for non-hops folks. There is a variety of spirits available, with the menu leaning heavily toward whiskey.

Photo courtesy of Frank's Backyard
The space is open and bright, despite being wedged in between Frank's Pizza and a residential tower. It was designed by local designer, Darin Brooks.The second story terrace has tables fashioned from beer kegs and a projection screen for the big game.

Happy Hour runs Monday through Friday, 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. with $1 off canned and draft beers and liquors under $10.

There is no food menu, but patrons are welcome to bring in food from Frank's Pizza next door or have it delivered. Other outside food is not allowed. With Frank's Pizza available, what else would you want?

click to enlarge Uh-oh, Pasghettios, these aren't Franco-American. - PHOTO BY KIRSTEN GILLIAM
Uh-oh, Pasghettios, these aren't Franco-American.
Photo by Kirsten Gilliam

BCK: Kitchen and Cocktail Adventures, 933 Studewood, launched it soft opening on February 7. The restaurant's owners plan a two-week phase with a limited, changing menu. Co-owner John Reed and his team will be welcoming feedback from patrons, including a "Local's Board" where guests can submit some of their own favorite, nostalgic recipes. The official opening date, with a full menu, will be February 21.

Reed and his business partners, Leslie Nguyen, Vinnie Capizzi, and Michael Reed, opened the first Bosscat in Newport Beach, California in 2014 and Bosscat Kitchen and Libations, 4310 Westheimer, opened in Houston's River Oaks area last year.

click to enlarge The Dr. Feelgood has Houston's favorite things: Dr. Pepper, crushed ice, and whiskey. - PHOTO BY KIRSTEN GILLIAM
The Dr. Feelgood has Houston's favorite things: Dr. Pepper, crushed ice, and whiskey.
Photo by Kirsten Gilliam

The concept for the new restaurant is one of nostalgia and childhood food memories, albeit with a more modern, sophisticated twist. There are unique menu items like Pasghettio's with 44 Farms beef sausage and the Big Deb, a giant version of Little Debbie cakes (meant to be shared). The restaurant will even have its version of the Shake and Bake porkchop, for those of us who remember watching our moms doing the shake and bake thing in the '70s.

The food won't be the only thing stirring memories. The bar team, which includes Matt Sharp, Crisia Araujo and Leslie Krockenberger will be creating drinks like the Dr. Feelgood, a rye whiskey-based drink served in a Dr. Pepper can with crushed ice. There's even a drink that features Cap'n Crunch Crunch Berries.

According to John Reed, " We came up with this concept three years ago, when we were still living in California. When we came to Houston and discovered the Heights, we knew we found the perfect place to put it."

click to enlarge Upside Down Pineapple Pancakes will make your morning at Snooze. - PHOTO BY ASHLEY DAVIS PHOTOGRAPHY
Upside Down Pineapple Pancakes will make your morning at Snooze.
Photo by Ashley Davis Photography
Snooze-An A.M. Eatery, 718 W. 18th, had its grand opening at the new Heights location on January 24. Founded in 2006 in Denver, Colorado, the breakfast/brunch chain has expanded through several southwestern states, including Texas. The Heights location makes the fourth in the Houston area.

Its variety of eggs Benedict are creative and if you cannot make up your mind on which one to choose, you can mix and match with the Benny Duo. The Bella!Bella! Benny, with prosciutto, Taleggio cheese, cream cheese Hollandaise and balsamic glaze on ciabatta is a popular choice.

click to enlarge Bella! Bella! Benny ain't your grandpa's eggs Benedict. - PHOTO BY ASHLEY DAVIS
Bella! Bella! Benny ain't your grandpa's eggs Benedict.
Photo by Ashley Davis
The dog-friendly patio makes a welcome spot for Heights residents to walk with their pups and have a late breakfast and maybe a cocktail like "Bacon and Eggs", made with bacon-infused 9 Banded Whiskey, frothed egg white, bitters and bacon. Lightweights can opt for mimosas and Bloody Marys.

Snooze will soon be expanding to the Dallas area. But remember, they chose Houston first.

click to enlarge Tom Leveritt, Dominick Lee and Ian Tucker give a preview of the view from Poitin's terrace. - PHOTO COURTESY OF TREVOR GERLAND
Tom Leveritt, Dominick Lee and Ian Tucker give a preview of the view from Poitin's terrace.
Photo courtesy of Trevor Gerland

Poitin, 2313 Edwards, is still in the works, but owner Ian Tucker has already made some big choices for the upcoming restaurant and bar. Dominick Lee, former executive sous chef at Kiran's will be the executive chef.  Lee moved from New Orleans to study at the Art Institute of Houston and was awarded the inaugural Chris Shepherd Underbelly Scholarship in 2017, which helped to finance part of his culinary training. With the influences of chefs Kiran Verma and Chris Shepherd, look for Lee's cuisine to be diverse and cross-cultural.

Tucker has brought in Todd Leveritt, another New Orleans native, as General Manager. Leveritt, a former non-commissioned officer in the Marine Corps Infantry, has fifteen years of restaurant management experience.

Tucker, who also owns Balls Out Burger, is a native of Ireland and an owner of The Exchequer in Dublin, considered one of Dublin's best gastropubs. The Exchequer also opened a second location in Ranelagh, a residential area on the south side of Dublin.

Some of the funding for Poitin comes from NextSeed, a crowdsourcing platform. Poitin (pronounced Putt-cheen) is named for a nearly ancient, highly potent distilled Irish spirit similar to moonshine. According to Poitin's profile, plans are to bring in the mixologist and bar lead responsible for The Exchequer's renowned cocktail program to set up the bar at Poitin.

The 8,000 square foot space will anchor Sawyer Yards in the Washington Avenue Arts District and will have multiple dining rooms and a show-stopping bar. Look for it to open in late spring/ early summer 2018.

Kura Revolving Sushi Bar, 13513 University Blvd., had its grand opening January 12. The chain is big in Japan, with over 400 locations. There are 14 in the U.S., with the Sugar Land restaurant being the second in the Houston area. The first one opened at 11161 Westheimer. Many patrons find the sushi to be average, but it's inexpensive and the gimmicks are fun for those new to revolving sushi bars.

Customers check-in on an electronic pad and are alerted by text when a spot is ready. For newbies, the routine can be kind of confusing, with the conveyor belt, the plates slot, the game, etc. The dishes can be ordered at table for those who want to take it a little slower. Kura states that it uses organic and natural ingredients and real crab. It offers hot and cold sushi items, ramen, and sparkling sakes.

Enjoy the novelty, but whatever you do, don't touch Mr. Fresh!

A cool Montrose space won't stay vacant for long. - PHOTO BY KELLI DURHAM
A cool Montrose space won't stay vacant for long.
Photo by Kelli Durham
Doc's Motorworks Bar and Grill, 1303 Westheimer, closed December 22, according to CultureMap Houston. There were rumors that beleaguered Ruggles Black chef, Bruce Molzan, would reinvent the space as Ruggles Ice. That no longer seems to be the case.

Doc's Motorworks Bar and Grill opened in Houston in 2014. Its South Congress location in Austin closed last year due to impending demolition and construction in the area. There are two Doc's restaurants still open in the Austin area.

a gogo KTV Lounge Restaurant, 9889 Bellaire Blvd., opened at the end of December. The karaoke bar has a full restaurant serving sushi, dumplings and appetizers, like Hell On Fire Buffalo wings.

Pho Bolsa, 4505 FM 1960, began its soft opening December 30. The restaurant's cuisine runs from Vietnamese and Chinese to Thai and Poke. Along with a variety of teas and smoothies, the restaurant also has mochi ice cream, Nutella crepes, and flan. There is a pleasant patio to sit and sip a flavored sake. You read that right. The cafe offers sake in flavors like lychee and Fuji apple.

LA Crawfish, 3331 Telephone, opened January 30. The Cajun-Asian chain offers a mix of Cajun and Vietnamese flavors like poboys and pho. Most people go for the boiled crawfish and blue crabs, with different flavoring choices such as garlic butter, house Cajun rub and hot and sour sauces. There are also forget-your-diet-goodies like crawfish rolls and empanadas.

The casual restaurant is BYOB. They supply the goods for a Michelada, you bring the beer. Have the beignet fries for dessert.

click to enlarge The air dancer is just happy to see you. - PHOTO BY LORRETTA RUGGIERO
The air dancer is just happy to see you.
Photo by Lorretta Ruggiero

The Eggroll Factory, 12155 Jones, opened December 1. This little take-out has a couple of tables for seating, but much of its business is pick-up and delivery. There are traditional pork, shrimp, and chicken egg rolls, along with more interesting versions such as mac n' cheese or Buffalo chicken. There are even dessert eggrolls like strawberry cheesecake and s'mores.

For a limited time, the Mardi Gras special is a crawfish eggroll with pepper jack cheese. Most eggrolls are between $1 and $1.45, so you can experiment for not a lot of dough.

The business also offers dishes such as Do's orange chicken, Ghengis Khan beef, lo mein noodles and fried rice.
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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.