Restaurant News

Openings and Closings: Phat Takes Over Yelo, Local Table La Centerra Soon

Phat Eatery will expand.
Phat Eatery will expand. Photo by Jenn Duncan

Phat Eatery, 23119 Katy, will take over the space at Yelo next door. The expansion of Alex Au-Yeung's Malaysian eatery means the end of Yelo, a banh mi concept Au-Yeung debuted originally as a pop-up with chef Cuc Lam. It eventually opened as a brick and mortar next to Phat Eatery in early 2021. Lam left Yelo in November 2021 to pursue other culinary paths.

Yelo will have its last day of service September 4, then Phat Eatery will briefly close September 6 to give its staff a day of rest before reopening September 7. The restaurant will be open through late September before closing for two weeks so that renovations can be done to incorporate the former Yelo space into the revamped Phat Eatery. The expanded space will provide an additional 40 seats bringing the capacity up to 130 guests.
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The One Noodle Beef Noodle Soup will be on the Phat Eatery menu soon.
Photo by Kimberly Park

Au-Yeung, a 2022 James Beard Award Semifinalist for Best Chef: Texas, said in a press release, "We spent a lot of time and effort building the Yelo concept, yet despite seeing steadily increasing business, that space will ultimately better serve our guests and staff as an extension of Phat Eatery."

Though the Yelo concept will end, there will be a few favorites making their way onto Phat Eatery's menu including the beef noodle soup with the five to six-foot hand-pulled noodle, 12-hour bone broth and braised beef shank. The pan-fried dumplings, a best seller, will also migrate to the Phat menu.

There will be some new features when Phat reopens including a full bar with an emphasis on signature Asian cocktails. There will also be a private dining room.

Au-Yeung will open a second Phat Eatery in The Woodlands in early 2023.
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The spread at Local Table.
Photo by Jenn Duncan

Local Table, 24033 Cinco Ranch Boulevard, is shooting to open in early fall. The new location is currently under construction on the 14,500 square-foot building located outside the La Centerra shopping center and across from Cinco Ranch High School. The relocation of the Cinco Ranch restaurant will be the flagship for the concept and the first Local Table and Local Bar combo. It is part of the major expansion of the restaurant group, Eat Local Concepts, which has plans for an expansion to The Woodlands later this year. The owners wanted to re-establish the original location prior to opening The Woodlands restaurant at 4223 Research Forest.
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Local Table offers refreshing dishes like the Ahi Poke Bowl.
Photo by Jenn Duncan
Eat Local Concepts is a family-owned hospitality group with brothers Shervin and Neima Sharifi and their cousins, Ashkan Nowamooz, Arash Noamouz and Alex Nowamooz, who are also brothers. Local Table first opened in Cinco Ranch in April 2016. Since then, the concept has expanded to Cypress, Fulshear and the garden Oaks/Oak Forest area.

Keeping it in the family, they have Sue Nowamooz serving as executive chef and the menu developer for each location. The menu offers a variety of options like including a variety of wood-stone pizzas, wraps, sandwiches, tacos and pitas. There are also gluten-free and vegetarian dishes like the Texas Caviar Salad and Ginger-Roasted Brussels Sprouts Salad. 

Beverage director Lindsey Martin is in charge of the beverage programs for the Local Bar concept.

The restaurant group keeps each neighborhood in mind when they open a concept and bring something unique to each location. The new Cinco Ranch spot will have an extensive patio and also the largest private dining room of all the locations, accommodating up to 60 people.
The Woodshed Smokehouse offered a comfortable spot for dining at Levy Park.
Photo by Tim Love Restaurants
The Woodshed Smokehouse, Love Shack and Side Dough are closed at Levy Park, 3801 Eastside. The three concepts from celebrity chef Tim Love first opened at the park in March 2020, five days before the citywide COVID pandemic shutdown March 17. Love, owner of Love Management, opened his first restaurant, Lonesome Dove in the Fort Worth Stockyards in 2000. He expanded his hospitality empire to include two more locations of Lonesome Dove in Austin, Texas and Knoxville, Tennessee and locations of The Woodshed, Love Shack and a number of other concepts in Fort Worth and Denton, Texas.
Feelin' the love no more.
Photo by Tim Love Restaurants
During the pandemic, Love operated in Houston as many restaurateurs did with to-go service and even using The Woodshed Smokehouse as a ghost kitchen before reopening in September 2020. While the barbecue and smoked meats concept had an open and airy dining room with park-side patio seating, the other concepts were more casual. Love Shack sold burgers while Side Dough, the double-decker red bus, offered park visitors daytime concessions such as coffee drinks, breakfast sandwiches and pastries. It seemed like a perfect trio for the diverse groups of dog-park visitors, yoga enthusiasts and families making use of the creative playgrounds.

We reached out for more information regarding the closure but were given the exact same statement from Chef Love as other publications such as CultureMap Houston.

It read: "The term of our License Agreement has expired. It's been an honor to serve the people of the great city of Houston and we greatly appreciate your generous support of WoodShed, Love Shack and Back Dough. We are very grateful to the community and our team and we look forward to the opportunity to opening another restaurant in Houston in the future."

Though Love referenced Back Dough in his statement, the other concept in Houston was called Side Dough. Back Dough, Love's doughnut concept, is located behind his restaurant Queenie's in Denton.
We need some of these red velvet waffles to deal with the drama.
Photo by Jeremiah Jones
Taste Bar + Kitchen, 3015 Bagby, has closed in Midtown. The announcement was made via its Instagram account, as reported by the Houston Chronicle.

Owner and chef Don Bowie received a lot of rave reviews for his waffle-centric restaurant and it became a very popular dining and drinking spot for brunch and late-night music. In fact, the brand has expanded to Missouri City this week and supposedly, Taste is going to open another location in downtown Houston very soon.

Unfortunately, Bowie is the defendant in a number of lawsuits. He recently opened RARE Steakhouse in March, as a partial owner. He is now being sued by his partners Akon and former Houston Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson, according to Their lawsuit contends that hundreds of thousands of dollars are missing and that Bowie has possibly been using funds from RARE to support his restaurant Taste. The chef has denied the allegations
Chef Don Bowie has some legal issues to contend with.
Photo by JRMH Photos
However, these aren't the only allegations against him from investors. Kevin Kelley, an early investor with Bowie at Taste Bar + Kitchen, filed a lawsuit in 2020 claiming missing monies at the restaurant, among claims that Bowie took cash proceeds and hosted private events with celebrities while pocketing the profits.

According to ABC13, Bowie is also in a legal battle with Amir Ansari, his landlord at Taste Bar + Kitchen, for non-payment of rent. Ansari also alleges that Bowie made unauthorized additions to the building. This past Monday, a judge ruled in the landlord's favor in the eviction suit.

The saga goes even further than investors and landlords. Several Taste employees reached out to ABC13 claiming that they were having trouble cashing their paychecks. This past Tuesday, the state comptroller's office seized the Midtown location of Taste Bar + Kitchen alleging more than $200,000 in unpaid taxes, as reported by

Meanwhile, Taste Kitchen Sugar Land (with an address of 3424 FM 1092 in Missouri City) has apparently opened. Its menu is online and it is selling tables for a live music performance from jazz band Hiroshima September 2.
Colorful and whimsical murals decorate the new Stafford location.
Photo by Visual Influence/Henry Adegbite
Lotus Seafood, 2903 S. Main, will have its grand opening in Stafford September 21. It's the fifth outpost for the fast-casual counter service brand which began in a seafood market in 2007 as a "You Buy, We Fry" concept. That original location relocated last year to a larger space on the Southwest Freeway.

Its popularity stems from its addictive seafood including its Cajun garlic butter called "Crack Sauce". Houstonians seem to never have enough of seafood boils and diners at Lotus can indulge in seafood by the pound with shrimp and snow crab legs plus crawfish seasonally. There are a number of fried seafood options plus chicken wings, po-boys, fried rice and noodle dishes.
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For a thirsty group, Lotus Seafood has a rum punch.
Photo by Visual Influence/Henry Adegbite
The new location will be a huge 6,000 square-foot restaurant with the concept's first-ever full bar. It will also bring its signature frozen daiquiris to the new location. The Stafford restaurant will feature a hookah lounge and an outdoor patio. There will be a daily happy hour in the bar and on the patio and seven new cocktails, including an over-sized bucket of Lotus Rum Punch for sharing.

Tim Hortons, 21811 Clay, softly opened August 29. Last year, the expansion of the Canadian coffee shop to Houston was announced with great excitement. This past week, with no fanfare, it has quietly opened; as quietly as any business can with social media spreading the news.

The Katy location is planning a grand opening September 9 beginning at 5 a.m. The first 50 guests in line will receive free iced or hot coffee for a year. It serves doughnuts, Timbits, baked goods, breakfast sandwiches, bagel sandwiches and coffee drinks daily from 5 a.m. to 8 p.m.
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Adam Cryer and Sarah Pope are bringing craft beers to the Ion.
Photo by Allyson Huntsman

Second Draught, 4201 Main, is coming to the Ion. The taproom is from Baileson Brewing Company co-founders Adam Cryer and Sarah Pope. The married couple first opened the Baileson microbrewery in 2017 offering hand-crafted ales in its taproom and and the dog-friendly outdoor space.

When Second Draught debuts at the Ion, it will offer 18 rotating beer selections, many of them from local craft breweries in Houston.
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The King Kong Sundae is a celebrity favorite.
Photo by Sugar Factory

Sugar Factory Express, 5015 Westheimer, will open its second location this fall in the Galleria shopping mall. Part of the Sugar Factory brand, the express version offers the same high quality food in a quick-service, yet immersive dining experience. Its menu has burgers, some with pink or blue brioche buns and the Rainbow Sliders is a rainbow-colored plate of five beef burger sliders with a rubber duckie included. There are chicken tenders and chicken tender sandwiches with vegan versions available.
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Leaded or unleaded, the West Coast Sunset is smoking.
Photo by Sugar Factory
The treats at Sugar factory are over-the-top and perfect for Insta influencers and TikTok tycoons. There are classic milkshakes but its Insane Milkshakes are truly snap-worthy works of ice cream art. Served in logo Mason jars, the concoctions range from the lurid Blue Cookie Monster to the Strawberry Cheesecake, complete with cherry pop rocks, Pop-Tarts and a full slice of cheesecake. The King Kong Sundae is the big daddy of them all with 12 scoops of ice cream, candy necklaces and a variety of other candies and treats. For $49, it's meant for sharing so make sure your companions are COVID-free first.

Its Smoking Goblets are also a big draw and they come in alcoholic and non-alcoholic versions with names like Hpnotiq Long Island Tea and El Jeffe Hurricane. There are smaller cocktails as well including a Red Velvet martini.
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The sea bass at Gatsby's Prime Seafood is ready for prime time.
Photo by Michael Anthony
Gatsby's Prime Seafood, 1212 Waugh, will take over the former Tony Mandola's restaurant, with plans to launch in late September. The popularity of its sister restaurant, Gatsby's Prime Steakhouse, has afforded the opportunity for Gatsby Hospitality Group to expand its brand.

Leading the kitchen at the new seafood-forward restaurant will be Executive Chef Erick Anaya who has been with Gatsby's Prime Steakhouse from the beginning. Anaya has over two decades of food and beverage leadership in the steakhouse biz. Now, he will be overseeing a menu of seafood items such as branzino filet, New Bedford scallops, sea bass and a luxe seafood tower. In keeping with its Gatsby-esque posh vibe, there will be caviar service and decadent desserts.

The front-of-house operations will be guided by Patrick Smith, a hospitality veteran who was with Morton's Steakhouse previously for 24 years.
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Baked oysters are a heavenly beginning to any meal.
Photo by Michael Anthony
The interior design will be done in blue and gold, in contrast to the luxurious red and black aesthetic at the steakhouse. The new restaurant will accommodate 225 guests with an outdoor patio and a lively bar scene as well.

Owner Luis Rangel says that the new concept may not seem to be a deviation from Gatsby's Prime steakhouse on the surface, it is actually a carefully envisioned expansion of the brand into a new culinary category. He added, "We plan to deliver the level of professionalism in all aspects that guests have come to enjoy at Prime Steakhouse while simultaneously upping the ante in regard to presentation, flavor and consistency of all dishes."
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Chef Yoshi can be serious, playful or strong. This is Yoshi strong.
Photo by Aya Sushi
Aya Sushi, 5407 Bellaire, opened September 1, according to Houston Food Finder. It comes from the owners at Kau Ba Saigon, Ka Sushi and Fat Bao and Houston sushi chef, Yoshi Katsuyama. A Tokyo-trained chef, Katsuyama was at Tyson Cole's Uchi Houston for four years with later stints at Soto and Paul Qui's now-shuttered restaurant Aqui.
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The Kanpaccio is thinly-sliced amberjack with green apple, seasonal caviar and shoyu vinegar.
Photo by Aya Sushi
The chef will be flying in fish from Japan daily and guests can expect fresh seafood dishes like Kanpaccio with thinly-sliced amberjack and Hamachili with yellowtail. There are also beef dishes such as the A5 Wagyu. For adventurous (or indecisive) eaters, the chef's omakase will be available for $135, an option which allows the chef to choose and create dishes for diners according to his preferences and creativity.
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The 7 Star Supreme is loaded with toppings.
Photo by 7Pie
7Pie, 12350 Westheimer and 6405 Telephone Road, both opened in August. The Westheimer location was the first Houston store for the fast casual pizza concept and will have a grand opening celebration beginning at 11 a.m. September 9. The Telephone Road location debuted August 23. More locations are planned for the future including several within the 610 Loop.

The pizzas at 7Pie are 12 inches and cut, befitting its name, into 7 slices. The pizzas are made to order with hand-stretched dough and high-quality ingredients. Its flagship pie is a $7 loaded cheese pizza. The simple menu offers variety of pizzas to choose from plus jumbo chicken wings, juicy chicken tenders, an Italian sub and Caesar salad. There's are slices of Hot Fudge Cake for dessert.

Each location has a contactless drive-thru window, walk-up, phone and online ordering. Delivery is available through third party apps.

The concept is led by David Davoudpour, CEO at Shoney's. Davoudpour plans to open more than 30 new 7Pie locations in the region.

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The European vibe continues with new dishes like the Steak Bavette.
Photo by Michael Anthony

Cafe Express, 1422 W. Gray, will reopen soon after a complete renovation. Taking its cue from Parisian art-house cafes, the reimagined space will have an eclectic mix of furniture with a welcoming vibe of indoor/outdoor living. There will also be new dishes like the Steak Bavette, Tuna Nicoise Salad and Amalfi Lemon Herb Chicken. The new items have already debuted at the Meyerland and Town & Country locations.

Cafe Express is planning another location in The Woodlands soon. It previously had a restaurant at 9595 Six Pines at Market Street in The Woodlands but that spot closed in 2016.
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The Ram Family are opening CSC number three.
Photo by Chicken Salad Chick
Chicken Salad Chick, 5310 Weslayan, opens September 13 with grand opening deals. On Tuesday, September 13, the first 100 guests to check-in, beginning at 7 a.m., receive their code and return at the appointed time between 10 a.m. and 11:15 a.m. will receive one large Quick Chick of chicken salad per month for an entire year. A purchase of a Quick Chick or item of greater value and the app download is required. It sounds a bit convoluted to us, but people really want their Chicken Salad Chick. You might be the lucky random guest to win Quick Chick once a week for a year.

From September 14 to September 16, there will be swag giveaways for the first 50 guests each day with required purchases and the downloaded app. On September 17, customers who purchase a Chick Special Trio will receive a promo code for bonus points and a Free Scoop reward in the Chicken Salad Chick app.

The Weslayan store is the third for Ronald and Kathleen Ram who opened their first Chicken Salad Chick in Katy in 2019. It is now the 12th location in the Houston metro area for the brand.

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Some call it fusion, we call the Pizza Al Pastor a need-to-try- soon.
Photo by Tracie Luong
Ember & Greens, 9403B Katy Freeway, is launching its first-ever menu of coal-fired pizzas. Owned by Nadereh Ahly and her son Iman Yarjani,  the restaurant serves modern American fare that reflects the diversity of international influences on Houston cuisine. The restaurant is now adding the Italian pizza pie to its offerings, but with global flavors.

There are eight pizzas on the new menu, which can also be customized from a list of ingredients. The pizza starts with Ember & Greens tomato sauce then gets creative with selections like the Al Pastor, made with grilled chicken, pineapple, cilantro, onion, mozzarella  and a guajillo drizzle. There's also a Buffalo Chicken or a more traditional Spicy Salami and Peppers. Guests can try the Goat Cheese and Prosciutto or opt for one of the vegetarian choices like the E&G Signature with spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, pepperoncini, mushroom, arugula, mozzarella and walnut pesto.

The sauce for the pizza is sweetened with carrots and blended with herbs for a light, but robust flavor. Then, the pies get baked in a coal-fired brick oven for the right amount of crispness.

Openings Reported for August 2022:

Adriatic Cafe, 17402 Northwest Freeway, reopened August 1
Cabo Bob's Burritos, 7103 Cypress Creek Parkway, opened August 10
Clutch City Cluckers, 1411 Westheimer, opened August 26
Copenhagen European Kitchen & Bakery, 981 Mason, opened July 6
The Cookshack, 223 Mason, opened August 8
Craft Burger at Finn Hall, 712 Main, reopened late August
Crust Pizza Co., 27008 Northwest Freeway, opened July 14
Feng Cha, 7036 FM 1960, opened mid-July
Freebirds World Burrito, 9910 Gaston, opened August 16
Fusion59, 11786 Wilcrest, opened August 2
George's Bistro & Bar, 2715 Bissonnet, opened early August
Good Eatz, 8805 Jones, opened July 6
Graze Craze, 12234 Queenston Boulevard, opened August 15
Gyroville, 1324 N. Shepherd, opened July 26
Hopdoddy Burger Bar, 2417 Research Forest, opened August 2
il Bracco, 1705-A Post Oak Boulevard, opened August 15
Lagniappe, 550 Heights Boulevard, opened mid-August
La La Land Kind Cafe, 888 Westheimer, opened August 20
Low Tide Kitchen & Bar, 2030 Bingle, opened August 22
Maui Bento Box, 712 Main, opened late August
Orleans Seafood, 6230 FM 1463, opened August 25
Pacha Nikkei, 10001 Westheimer, opened August 12
Rosland's Grill and Bar, opened August 9
Salata Salad Kitchen, 1014 Wirt, opened August 25
The Stand, 2000 Hughes Landing, opened August 9
Zalat Pizza, 2303 W. Holcombe, opened August 9

Closings Reported for August 2022:

Burro & Bull, 25618 Northwest Freeway, closed late August
Grappino di Nino, 2817 W. Dallas, closed August 5
Nino's, 2817 W. Dallas, closed August 5
Revival Market, 550 Heights Boulevard, closed July 31
The Tasting Room, 818 Town and Country Boulevard, closed August 27
Vincent's, 2817 W. Dallas, closed August 5
Wicked Boxer, 8190 Barker Cypress, closed August 21
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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.