Restaurant News

Openings & Closings: Farewell to Oxheart, Here Comes King's Bierhaus!

Zeapod Cakery has relaunched as CAKE Fine Pastry and still baking delicious cakes and sweet treats.
Zeapod Cakery has relaunched as CAKE Fine Pastry and still baking delicious cakes and sweet treats. Photo courtesy of CAKE Fine Pastry
click to enlarge Justin Yu's Oxheart closes it doors for the last time on March 15. - PHOTO BY TROY FIELDS
Justin Yu's Oxheart closes it doors for the last time on March 15.
Photo by Troy Fields

After five successful years, Oxheart served its final dinner at 1302 Nance on March 15, the anniversary of its opening. News of the closure arrived early last December when Alison Cook tweeted the “big news” that nationally acclaimed James Beard Award recipient Justin Yu would be closing his beloved restaurant in March to reopen in May as an a la carte eatery.

Yu is currently working on another concept with restaurateur Bobby Heugel where the former Dry Creek stood at 544 Yale. Details about his new projects are still under wraps for now, but we are excited to taste the next course, whatever it may be.

Hans and Philip Sitter, the father and son partnership behind King’s Biergarten in Pearland are getting ready to open King’s Bierhaus, a more modern take on the beer garden restaurant in the Heights at 2044 East T.C. Jester. By the end of April, anxious fans can experience an American-German beer garden on 9,000-square feet of space that includes an indoor full-service bar, dining and communal tables, both intimate and communal outdoor dining areas and an adult playground with games like giant Jenga, ping pong tables and cornhole.

The beer selection will include 18 German beers on tap, four German Monastary brews, six taps dedicated to local and two taps for central European brews. This selection will include “five of the world’s best beers, including Weinstephaner Vitus, which is produced by the world’s oldest brewery and has been rated the number one best beer in the world,” according to the press release. The wine list will feature German and Austrian choices, and there will be an extensive whiskey list, specialty cocktails and the largest schnapps program in Texas.

Expect the new menu to be similar to the existing Pearland Biergarten’s offerings of gourmet sausages, wiener schnitzel, pretzels and loads of other tasty German dishes.

On April 8, starting at 10 a.m., tickets to attend the VIP exclusive preview a week before the actual opening can be purchased on Eventbrite. Seats are limited.

click to enlarge The Wokker TX Fries with brisket, cheddar jack and spicy aioli is a popular menu item. - PHOTO COURTESY OF WOKKER
The Wokker TX Fries with brisket, cheddar jack and spicy aioli is a popular menu item.
Photo courtesy of Wokker

co-owner Tony Nguyen told the Houston Press that the two-and-a-half-year-old mobile food unit known as Wokker TX Ranger has signed a year-long partnership with Craft Beer Cellar at 907 Franklin downtown.
“We’re currently soft opening from now [March 20] through March 31, when we plan to celebrate our grand opening,” said Nguyen.

The full kitchen space is much larger and will allow the Wokker team to expand its menu from eight items to 19. Check them out Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. for lunch and 5 to 9 p.m. for dinner, and on Saturday from 5 to 9 p.m.

The Wokker food truck will continue to operate at the usual spots on the University of Houston campus, at breweries and will be available for catering events.

Austin-based Handlebar will open at 5219 Washington Avenue in Houston this spring. According to Eater Houston, the opening date is tentatively slated for March 31. The bar will offer craft cocktails, bar games, a photo booth and local craft beers.

click to enlarge Zeapod Cakery has relaunched as CAKE Fine Pastry and still baking delicious cakes and sweet treats. - PHOTO COURTESY OF CAKE FINE PASTRY
Zeapod Cakery has relaunched as CAKE Fine Pastry and still baking delicious cakes and sweet treats.
Photo courtesy of CAKE Fine Pastry

A Facebook post announced the grand opening of CAKE Fine Pastry at 13010 FM 529 near Cypress. Previously known as Zeapod Cakery, the food truck turned brick and mortar back in February of 2016. Houston Food Finder reported that owners Jerry and Elizabeth Hale decided to rebrand in order to “better reflect their ambitious custom cakes and other sweets.” Elizabeth told the Press that the name-change from Zeapod to CAKE was done to help customers identify what they do, which is bake delicious cakes and pies. An Open House celebration is in the works. Fans can follow the bakery on social media for details.

Be on the look out for Ohn Korean Eatery in Bellaire’s Chinatown. The new Korean eatery from chef Mike Tran (of Tiger Den and Night Market) will feature soju-based cocktails, a few beers and unique Korean creations inspired by L.A.’s Koreatown from Tran. Ohn is expected to open its doors mid to late April in the same strip center where Tran’s other joints, Mein and Night Market, can be found at 9630 Clarewood.

Austin-based gelato shop Dolce Neve is set to open at 4721 North Main on March 31. The menu features 12 to 18 flavors of gelato and sorbets, categorized as staples, rotating and seasonal selections. According to its website, in addition to the gelato and sorbets, other frozen desserts, such as gelato sandwiches and affogatos are available.

Louisiana-based Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers celebrated the opening of its 25th store in Houston on March 21 at 9530 Main Street near NRG Stadium.

Hours of operation are Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to midnight. According to, this marks the 109th Raising Cane’s in the state of Texas and the 316th system-wide.

Community Impact reported the opening of several new restaurants in The Woodlands area including a breakfast and barbecue joint, another outpost of a coffee and crepes favorite, a steakhouse and bourbon bar and other brand new concepts.

click to enlarge Dosey Doe Breakfast & BBQ opened on March 18 at 2626 Research Forest Boulevard in The Woodlands. - PHOTO COURTESY OF DOSEY DOE BREAKFAST & BBQ
Dosey Doe Breakfast & BBQ opened on March 18 at 2626 Research Forest Boulevard in The Woodlands.
Photo courtesy of Dosey Doe Breakfast & BBQ

Dosey Doe Breakfast & BBQ
opened on March 18 at 2626 Research Forest Boulevard in The Woodlands. The restaurant is a rebrand of the former Dosey Doe Music Café on FM 1488, which shuttered after this past New Year’s Eve. The restaurant serves breakfast, lunch and dinner and offers happy hour deals every day of the week. Expect house-roasted coffee and dishes like huevos rancheros, biscuits and gravy and something called the “Ginormous Chicken Fried Steak.”

Helmed by executive chef Jay Stone, Dosey Doe features a 16-hour hickory and red oak smoked brisket, smoked and jalapeno sausages and a “pickled-brine” chicken.

In April, a fifth location of Coco Crepes, Waffles & Coffee is opening at 6777 Woodlands Parkway, suite 214. The shop offers a variety of coffees and teas and specializes in sweet and savory crepes.

The Refuge Steakhouse & Bourbon Bar opened in Creekside Park on March 18 at 8540 Creekside Forest Drive, suite C800. A sister restaurant of The Refuge Bar & Bistro, also located in The Woodlands, at 24 Waterway Avenue, suite 110, features an extensive bourbon selection and offers premium wood-fired steaks, seafood and pasta. Check out its full menu online.

Early next month, popular hamburger chain Fuddruckers will debut in Creekside Park at 8510 Creekside Forest Drive.

Salata opened at 3091 College Park Drive, suite 290, on March 20. This is the second location for local franchisees Eric Marchand and Amy Qualley.

Four restaurants are coming to the southeast corner of Beltway 8 and Vista in Pasadena. The Chronicle reported that Glaser Retail Partners has started construction on a development called the Pasadena Pavilion that will house Cajun-themed Razzoo’s, burger chain Red Robin, Tex-Mex eatery Chuy’s and an Outback Steakhouse. The Pavilion is expected to have all four restaurants open for business by the end of the year.

At the beginning of the year, news about the Hot Bagel Shop opening by the end of January abounded, but it wasn’t until March 17 that Swamplot reported that the shop finally moved into its new digs at 2015 South Shepherd Drive, suite 900, right next door to its former building with “Now Open” signage hanging overhead.

Houston Business Journal reported the arrival of a new craft beer brewery inside the loop. A representative of Apogee Brewing told the Press that it is “on target to open doors in the second half of 2018.” Partners Tom Ahlstrom, Michael Duckworth, David Lantz and Ben Stahl have been home-brewing for close to a decade.

Ahlstrom told HBJ that, “Apogee aims to brew hop-forward, Belgian and barrel-aged ales along with sour and wild ales.”

Davis Street at Hermann Park, 5925 Almeda, has supposedly closed for renovations. Local blogger Erika Harrison noted that posts on its Yelp page reported the abrupt closure. The restaurant had been open since October 2014 and most noted for Sunday Brunch and Jazz Fridays. The phone line seems to be disconnected as well.

The Bonefish Grill at 2643 Commercial Center in LaCenterra at Cinco Ranch has shuttered. According to Covering Katy, the restaurant appears to have closed abruptly mid-February after a visit from corporate management who “told employees the restaurant was being shut down immediately.”

click to enlarge Woodson's Local Tap + Kitchen grand opened on March 11 at 2330 FM 1488 in Conroe. - PHOTO COURTESY OF WOODSON'S LOCAL TAP + KITCHEN
Woodson's Local Tap + Kitchen grand opened on March 11 at 2330 FM 1488 in Conroe.
Photo courtesy of Woodson's Local Tap + Kitchen

A March 11 Facebook post announced the opening of Woodson’s Local Tap + Kitchen at 2330 FM 1488 in Conroe. The bar and restaurant is from Sawyer Management Group who also operate Exit 73, a bar and grill in Spring and Calhoun’s Rooftop, a UH Cougars hot spot at 4701 Calhoun.

Woodson’s website is not quite ready yet but photos on Yelp show pretty sweet happy hour deals on appetizers, wine, domestic bottles and drafts, Monday through Friday, from 4 to 7 p.m.

Cherry Pie Hospitality, the group behind Lee’s Fried Chicken & Donuts, State Fare and Pi Pizza, is opening Starfish at 191 Heights Boulevard by late March or early April. Restaurateur Lee Ellis, along with partner Jim Mills will feature a Southern comfort menu with an emphasis on seafood. The kitchen will also use a wood-fired grill and raw bar.

click to enlarge Retrospect Coffee Bar expects to open in two or three weeks at 3704 La Branch. - PHOTO COURTESY OF RETROSPECT COFFEE BAR
Retrospect Coffee Bar expects to open in two or three weeks at 3704 La Branch.
Photo courtesy of Retrospect Coffee Bar

Long-awaited Retrospect Coffee Bar is inching closer to an opening date. A representative of the Retrospect told the Press that hopes are to open in two to three weeks. Built in 1925, the historical landmark was once a Gulf Coast Oil gas station. Back in 2015, Eater Houston reported plans for the coffee bar to take up shop in the structure at 3704 La Branch across from the Station Museum of Contemporary Art and a few blocks from the Houston Community College's central campus.

Looks like Retrospect offered a sneak peek on February 18 during the #caffeinecrawl event. Keep up with the progress on Instagram @retrospectcoffeebar.

The Ivy & James will open May 1 in the Evelyn Park Conservancy. The restaurant is owned and operated by Jamie and Dalia Zelko (of the former Zelko Bistro), along with their partner Edgardo de la Garza. According to the Chronicle, the restaurant will feature American comfort food, with a focus on “sustainable farming, holistic agriculture, humanely raised animals, and responsible seafood and aquaculture.”

The Zelkos will participate in a couple events prior to the restaurant’s opening where diners can preview items from The Ivy & James menu. Dining by Fireflies will offer a preview of the park with dining and cocktails from 7 to 10 p.m. and Picnic in the Park to celebrate the park’s grand opening on April 22. Food from both events will be provided by The Ivy & James.

A reader noted that the Bon Baguette at 2518 West Holcombe is now Fuji Ramen King. Judging from the similarities on the menu, the owners may have rebranded and reopened the West University ramen shop in late January and the menu features a mish mosh of Asian dishes from Vietnamese banh mi and spring rolls to Chinese bao to Japanese ramen noodle soups.

click to enlarge PHOTO COURTESY OF RUSSO'S
Photo courtesy of Russo's

A new Russo’s New York Pizzeria will open its doors in Cypress at 28610 Highway 290 next month. The new store will be located in Fairfield Market down the street from the Houston Premium Outlets and next to the new H-E-B.

The 2,500 square foot interior space will seat 70 inside and 24 on the patio. Founder of Russo’s Restaurants, Anthony Russo, says, “We prioritize using the freshest ingredients and servicing our customers and this has made us successful the past 25 years.” The restaurant will feature authentic, hand-tossed New York Style pizza, Italian pastas, soups and salads.

Popular Taiwanese pastry shop 85C Bakery is on its way to Houston. Eater Houston reported that a Yelper saw signage at 9750 Bellaire Boulevard about the bakery.

85C is known for its sweet and savory breads and pastries. This opening marks the second expansion in Texas, opening its first Texas store last year in Carrollton to hour-long lines.

That's it for this week's restaurant openings and closings. Leave us a comment or send us an email to let us know if we missed something.
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Cuc Lam is a freelance food writer for the Houston Press and local pop-up chef. She enjoys teaching cooking classes and hosting dinner parties when she is not writing.