Local Foods Market, 2424 Dunstan, opens February 16 in the former benjy's restaurant. Benjy's closed in March 2020 to make way for the new concept. It was the last remaining location for owner Benjy Levit's namesake restaurant. Now, Levit's focus has turned to his Local Foods empire which currently has five locations in Houston and an upcoming store in Austin.
The new Local Foods Market will have two floors of expanded grocery offerings and counter service plus a second floor wine shop offering natural, organic, hard-to-find wines at prices below retail. Its Market will have products exclusive to the shop.
Former benjy's chefs Maria Gonzalez and Mike Potowski have designed the counter service menu of fresh, chef-prepared dishes highlighting locally sourced proteins, vegetables and grains. Starters include Cheese and Charcuterie plates created with local Houston Dairymaids cheese and Dozier’s meats. The Chicken Matzo Ramen fuses two cuisines and two comfort soups together with house-made shio ramen broth and matzo balls. Hot Smoked Salmon, Texas Wagyu, Beef Pastrami, Tofu Pastrami and Roasted Free-Range Heritage Chicken can be served on their own or atop salads for a healthy lunch or dinner.
For coffee lovers, the La Marzocco Strada espresso machine will provide the perfect cup using custom blended Katz’s Coffee. Levit was one of Katz's original customers.
LFM will host purveyor pop-ups on a regular basis, beginning with Chef Sasha Grumman. The first pop-up, Focaccia Friday, will take place February 19 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. or until it sells out.
Levit said in a press release, “We are thrilled to continue the pop-up success with the conversion of benjy’s into a larger Local Foods Market. Our Chefs have created an amazing menu featuring upscale ingredients for diners to enjoy in a casual atmosphere. We wanted to create a fun wine-centric space with a laid-back vibe, a new way to highlight our great purveyors.”
The market side showcases artisanal foodie staples sourced from all over the country. Specialty spices, sauces and grocery staples like local eggs, milk, Texas beef and Houston Dairymaids cheeses will offer guests a one-stop shopping experience. Exclusive, hard-to-find products such as Rancho Gordo heirloom beans from Napa, SQIRL Jams from Los Angeles, Woon sauces from San Francisco and La Boîte biscuits & spices out of New York will please Houstonians looking for new foods to try.
The second floor restaurant will house its selection of natural, organic wines so guests can enjoy retail wines by the bottle with no corkage fee. There will also be eight wines on tap plus craft beer and artisanal ciders to enjoy with a meal.
Local Foods Market will be open for lunch and dinner, adding breakfast and brunch soon. Beginning February 15th, the Local Foods in Rice Village will be pick-up and delivery only while its gets a refresh. It will reopen for dine in the following month.
Messina Hof Harvest Green Winery and Kitchen, 8921 Harlem, began its soft opening in mid-February in Richmond. A grand opening is planned for late February. Currently, the winery is also hosting a number of exclusive events for its VIP members, Wine Club members and the Harvest Green community.
Located in the Harvest Green farming community, a developed by Houston-based Johnson Development,
this is the fourth winery location for Messina Hof which also operates wineries in Bryan, Fredricksburg and Grapevine, Texas. This will be the largest winery in Houston.
It will also feature a large tasting room, an 83-foot-long bar, a covered patio, two private tasting rooms plus a full service restaurant. Featuring Messina Hof's trademarked Vineyard Cuisine, the restaurant, helmed by executive chef Corey Bowers, will offer dishes that blend the wines of Messina Hof with the fresh herbs and vegetables grown on the Harvest Green grounds.
Due to the current pandemic, reservations are recommended in advance.
The Ion, 4201 Main, is set to open in Spring 2021 with three new restaurants announced for the multi-use Midtown development. The 288,000 square foot building will contain offices, shared workspaces, classrooms, event spaces and food and beverage offerings. There will be 50,000 square feet of public space.
Chef Chris Williams, owner of Lucille's restaurant and the newly formed Lucille's Hospitality Group, will be opening Late August, a collaboration with James Beard Semifinalist 2020 Best Chef:Texas, Dawn Burrell, as we recently reported here in the Houston Press.
Williams said in a press release, "I’m really excited for the opportunity to introduce this original concept in such a historic space... Our goal with Late August is to honor the origins of the property, while also tapping into its future. Under Chef Dawn’s leadership, I’m confident that the food will not only match the ethos of its surroundings, but also bring a fresh take to Houston’s immensely talented culinary scene. It’s been a pleasure to see Chef Dawn breathe life into this development with her flavors of global comfort."
Chef Burrell will also be competing in Bravo's Top Chef Season 18 along with fellow Houstonian Sasha Grumman. The first episode airs April 1, 2021.
Inside The Ion, Common Bond will open its fourth location of Common Bond On-The-Go selling its popular pastries, cookies, croissants and grab and go options like cold sandwiches, salads, breakfast and picnic items.
Dozier's will begin selling crawfish in partnership with Jim Burdette, of Jimbo's To-Geaux, March 14.
Bonfire Wings, 2616 Blodgett and 5832 Fairdale, began offering its Cajun and Creole menu from two "ghost kitchens" February 5. Wing lovers can order online for pick-up or doorstep delivery within a five mile radius of each location, one in the Galleria area, the other in the Museum District.
Bonfire's menu also includes fried catfish, shrimp, Cajun-seasoned French fries, boudain balls and for those who like to keep their fingers clean, chicken strips. Bonfire will also offer its Voodoo Daiquiris and Crazy Cajun Coladas to-go.
The Rock Burger Truck, 15914 Telge, will close permanently February 28. Owner Melinda Mayes made the decision after an investor reached out with an opportunity to open a restaurant in Springdale, Washington, according to Community Impact. Mayes and business partner Tiffany Richie are planning a farewell event March 27 from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. to thank loyal customers and say goodbye before they leave for their Northwest Pacific adventure, according to a Facebook post. Righteous Cause Band will be playing live music at Brew:30 Taphouse for the event.
The food truck set up shop outside Brew:30 Taphouse in December 2018. Previously Mayes owned Rockwell Grill, a popular pub and restaurant in Cypress that closed in 2016.
The eco-centric sushi restaurant prides itself on its responsibly caught seafood and humanely-raised animal products along with other earth-friendly ingredients. Its parent company, Flagship Restaurant Group, is the largest sushi group to pair with the Monterey Bay Aquarium: Seafood Watch program.
There are currently fifteen locations in the United States with an upcoming debut location at The Dominion in Austin very soon.
Raising Cane's, 4055 Little York, will open in June. The trademarked ONE LOVE chicken finger restaurant just keeps on trucking across Texas with the new location making the 173rd in the Lone Star State. It has 555 stores system-wide with the Little York restaurant making number forty in the Greater Houston area.
Smoosh Cookies has leased 1,000 square feet of space at the Westchase Shopping Center with plans to open in the first quarter of 2021. The gourmet ice cream sandwich shop opened as a food truck in 2015, selling its customizable Smoosh ice cream cookie sandwiches with an array of ice cream flavors and toppings. It has a shop at 718 W. 18th in The Heights and a location in College Station plus another in Alabama.