Surviving as a restaurant in Houston requires a skillset of the highest order. It's an extremely tough business, and it comes with lots of twists and turns— from fickle customers to outrageous rents and sometimes even changing demographics in neighborhoods.The Houston Press recently addressed the spike in restaurant 'reconcepting' in H-Town and the question of if it actually helps to save a restaurant in a cover story back in July.
In the food world, the old switcheroo isn't necessarily uncommon, but restaurants are much more likely to simply rebrand with a new menu or a dining room update, rather than go for broke with complete overhauls of entire concepts, but it seems to be on an uptick lately. Crazily enough, since that article appeared last month, even more restaurants have announced that they are rebranding. Here now is a quick glimpse at ten restaurants in Houston that have re-concepted in the past year.
Formerly Kuma Burgers
In late 2016 Diana and Willent Feng, owners of then Kuma Burgers, the beloved burger and milkshake haven tucked inside the Greenway Plaza food court, received a Cease and Desist Cease and Desist letter from a death metal-themed gastropub and burger spot Kuma's Corner in Chicago. "We thought it was a joke," Diana Feng told the Houston Press last month, but the duo shelled out money for a trademark lawyer and changed their name, logo and all branding to burger chan. Same great burgers and that must-order black sesame shake, but now with a legally-protected name.
9. Edison & Patton, 4203 Edison
Shockingly, the same Cease and Desist situation has just happened to Houston gastropub Edison, which according to Houstonia, received the letter from Los Angeles-based Kinetescape Holdings LLC, who operate a high volume cocktail lounge called The Edison. The Northside Village destination must stop using the name and any reference to Thomas Edison in order to avoid a lawsuit. Currently, the name has been changed to Edison & Patton, referring to its location at Edison and Patton streets.
Formerly Lucky's Pub
Lucky’s Pub in the Heights, 2520 Houston Avenue, is reinventing itself as White Oak Biergarten on August 26, with exterior changes and a new eatery Buck's Barbeque Co. headed up by pitmaster Jim Buchanan, formerly of Pappa Charlie’s.
The kitchen at White Oak Biergarten will serve market style barbecue Tuesday through Sunday, from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and switch to a bar food menu incorporating smoked meat items from 8 to 10 p.m., Tuesday through Thursday and until 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.
7. Pepper Twins, 315 Fairview
Formerly Cooking Girl
Montrose Sichuan favorite Cooking Girl closed in January 2017, supposedly due to work that needed to be done on sewer lines, but it reopened as Pepper Twins, the name of its popular purported sister eatery actually run by sisters Yunan Yang and Lily Luo. Meanwhile, a new Pepper Twins just opened in Upper Kirby. A Cooking Girl location that recently opened in Sugar Land is not related to the sisters' restaurants.
Formerly Glass Wall
The Heights eatery was regarded as one of the best restaurants in Houston when it opened in 2006 as a "New American Surfer Bistro" with a menu that changed monthly. The spot sure saw its share of talent in the back and front of house, including opening chef Lance Fegen, who went on to become culinary director of Liberty Kitchen, and Shepherd Ross, now owner of Pax Americana, who made Glass Wall a popular wine destination. But after 11 years in business, owners Studewood Hospitality Group LLC decided to close the upscale dining destination in May, as first reported by Houston Food Finder, with plans to reopen later this summer as a more on-trend casual neighborhood restaurant. Update: Studewood Hospitality Group has reportedly leased the location to Bosscat Kitchen, which will open BCK: Kitchen & Cocktail Adventures in the space this fall.