Restaurant News

Openings and Closings: Space Cowboy Rockets In, BCK Will Close

Sun Soaked on Montie Beach in the Heights.
Sun Soaked on Montie Beach in the Heights. Photo by Dylan Scardino

Space Cowboy, 100 W. Cavalcade, will have its grand opening April 23. This is the first concept from Night Moves Hospitality to open in 2021, as we reported here in the Houston Press. There are at least three more ventures planned by the newly formed hospitality group for this year with Trash Panda Drinking Club up next.

The tropically-inspired bar and restaurant comes from owner and beverage director Greg Perez and chef partner Lyle Bento. It is located in the Heights House Hotel, which was formerly the Astro Inn. In keeping with the retro vibe of the hotel, Space Cowboy is a colorful and quirky cocktail bar with a 2,000 square foot patio and a green space that is adjacent to the hotel's pool for an even more island feel.

click to enlarge Book a room, have a drink, float in the pool. - PHOTO BY DYLAN SCARDINO
Book a room, have a drink, float in the pool.
Photo by Dylan Scardino
Inside, the bar will seat 35, including eight seats at the wraparound bar. Former Monkey's Tail bartenders Samantha Ruiz and Karen Cervantes will lead the bar operations creating fruit-forward cocktails like the Banana Hammock (blush) made with Tempus Fugit Creme de Banane and the El Pajaro, a concoction of Campari, white rum, Apaluz mezcal and pineapple juice. The tropical drinks can be enjoyed in the bar or outdoors lounging in the green space which offers colorful, eclectic furniture and 4,000 square feet of covered area for guests and the public.

For the hotel's guests, there is access to the pool and cabanas with the bar offering poolside service. While the pool is for hotel residents only, pool passes will be available for purchase when the pool is not at capacity. Biodegradable plasticware, drink pouches and large format shareable cocktails encourage the outdoor summer staycation experience.

click to enlarge The Boom Boom Burger can be enjoyed al fresco. - PHOTO BY DYLAN SCARDINO
The Boom Boom Burger can be enjoyed al fresco.
Photo by Dylan Scardino
Chef Bento draws upon his Hawaiian upbringing to create a comfort food menu that goes well with the beachy cocktails with dishes like Huli Huli Chicken and Coconut Shrimp Bao. The dishes are influenced by cuisines ranging from the Philippines to Fiji including the Lechon Kawali, a dish of fried pork belly rubbed with Filipino adobo and served with sawsawan, a soy and vinegar dipping sauce. The Army Rice is a nod to budae jjigae, a Korean stew  using army surplus food that came about after the Korean war. Bento's version is made with Spam, kimchi, miso corn, American cheese and egg.

The grand opening of Space Cowboy coincides with the opening of the Heights House Hotel and is part of the multi-million dollar renovation to the vintage building done by Rise Construction. Space Cowboy will be open daily from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m.

click to enlarge John Reed and Leslie Nguyen are making some changes. - PHOTO BY KIRSTEN GILLIAM
John Reed and Leslie Nguyen are making some changes.
Photo by Kirsten Gilliam
BCK, 933 Studewood, will close April 30. The co-owners, John Reed and Leslie Nguyen have reached an agreement with a new tenant, Shokku Ramen, to take over the lease and the assets of the Heights restaurant.

Reed says that the owners could not come to an agreement with the landlord post-COVID when it came to renegotiating a ten-year lease. With two years left on the lease, the owners found a new tenant to take its place instead.

The restaurant opened in February 2018 as part of BCK Management, the group behind Bosscat Kitchen and Libations. Serving nostalgic American fare, the early menu was playful and incorporated childhood delicacies like Pasghettios and Cap'n Crunch Crunch Berries The concept eventually shifted to a menu more focused on burgers, brunch and cocktails. Nguyen also opened a to-go outpost of her Miss Mini Donuts at the restaurant in August 2020.

The current staff at BCK will be transferred to another BCK Management property, Bosscat Kitchen and Libations at 4310 Westheimer, a whiskey bar and restaurant which opened its Houston location in February 2017. Bosscat also recently opened its third location in Orange, California.

BCK Management, founded in 2016 by Reed and Nguyen, will begin another Houston concept this summer. Details will be announced soon.

click to enlarge French industrial meets Bayou City chic. - PHOTO BY VANESSA CHAVEZ/REALTY EXPOSURE PHOTOGRAPHY
French industrial meets Bayou City chic.
Photo by Vanessa Chavez/Realty Exposure Photography
Starck Room, 2450 Louisiana, opened for reservations in mid-February for its soft opening. Now, it is celebrating its grand opening in early May. The upscale lounge and event room aims to treat all of its guests like VIPs with its motto of, "if you know, you know". The intimate 1,800 square foot space is designed to offer luxury and style that appeals to sophisticates and late-night revelers alike. Some of the design was inspired by French industrial architect and designer Philippe Starck, hence the name.  Starck is responsible for the art deco design of the Delano Hotel in South Beach, Miami and the redesigned Paramount Hotel in Manhattan's Time Square Theatre District.

click to enlarge The petite patio offers some greenery. - PHOTO BY VANESSA CHAVEZ/ REALTY EXPOSURE PHOTOGRAPHY
The petite patio offers some greenery.
Photo by Vanessa Chavez/ Realty Exposure Photography
The new nightclub takes over the space which formerly housed the longtime and popular bar and restaurant, Ibiza. The elements of the design blend masculine and feminine touches with everything from a "gun wall" inside, lined with upturned handguns, to an outdoor flower wall and graffiti mural decorating the 300 square foot patio. There are plans for a monthly Sunday brunch party for the outdoor space in the near future.

click to enlarge There's VIP treatment and plenty of cocktails at Starck Room. - PHOTO BY AL TORRES@AL TORRES PHOTOGRAPHY
There's VIP treatment and plenty of cocktails at Starck Room.
Photo by Al Torres@Al Torres Photography

Live DJs and bottle service add to the vibrant atmosphere while cocktails such as 9 Confidential, a mezcal take on the Bee's Knees drink, and Starck Room's version of a Cosmopolitan, The Venus, give young party people a glamorous atmosphere in which to be seen by other glamorous young party people and of course, share selfies of themselves being young and glamorous party people.

A late night bites menu is still in the works but there is an assortment of artisan flatbreads available as well as delicious dessert bites. Starck Room is also available for corporate and private events.

Hunan Garden, 4331 Kingwood Drive, will close May 16, according to a post on its Facebook page. The reason given is that the new owners of the property are demolishing the building to put up a breezeway, forcing the restaurant's owners and staff to vacate for good.

The restaurant suffered extensive damage during Hurricane Harvey and it took time to financially recover from that disaster, not to mention the pandemic's affects on the restaurant business. According to the Facebook message, the future of the restaurant is uncertain, though its loyal customers, who are inundating the page with comments, are hoping that the restaurant can reopen in another Kingwood location.

Hunan Garden has been serving its loyal Kingwood residents for 34 years. That kind of loyalty also shows in the general manager and kitchen manager who have both been employed for 27 years, not to mention many other staff members who have stayed with the restaurant for over a decade. The post ended with, "This is all weighing very heavily on our hearts."

Kingwood resident and Houston Press reader Savannah Block says, "Every flood, hurricane, freeze; you name it, they've been there. They've opened their doors every time so people could have internet or even a warm place to go with food." Her mother Kim Fitzpatrick Malerba put her opinion more succinctly: "It pisses me off. Fucking breezeway?"

Kingwood residents have until May 16 to show their support and enjoy the General Tso's chicken one last time. At least in that location.

click to enlarge Guests can be spectators or participants in the fun at Fat Boots. - PHOTO BY BARRY FANTICH
Guests can be spectators or participants in the fun at Fat Boots.
Photo by Barry Fantich

Fat Boots Trailer Park Bar
, 4218 Washington, will debut its camp and kitsch May 5. The "drinkertainment" concept comes from a trio of industry veterans out of Las Vegas: Robert Frey, Jennifer Worthington and Ned Collett. In a press release the new venture was described as part bar, part show and part Instagram playground. The Houston location is the flagship for a nationwide expansion with plans for New Orleans and Las Vegas next.

Worthington, an entrepreneur, was the youngest senior vice-president at Jerry Bruckheimer Films in Los Angeles prior to beginning her career in the hospitality industry in New York and Las Vegas, including Coyote Ugly at the New York-New York Hotel & Casino. That experience has led her to the space " where staff become entertainers and cogs for social interaction and guests become part of theater."  Frey is founding partner of the Las Vegas-based PURE Nightclub and the Pussy Cat Dolls Lounge at Caesar's Palace. Houston-based Collett has decades of experience in live entertainment producing high profile events like the Spring Awakening Music Festival and The Rolling Stones at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

click to enlarge "Hee Haw Honeys" for 2021. - PHOTO BY BARRY FANTICH
"Hee Haw Honeys" for 2021.
Photo by Barry Fantich
At Fat Boots, team members will not only perform but also encourage patrons to get into the act as well. That encouragement comes in the form of call-outs, drinking games and a set list of '80s/'90s/2000s music that will get guests dancing. The libations on offer will also be part of the warm-up with cocktails being served in Spam and SpaghettiOs cans in keeping with its kitschy theme. With names like Porch Possum, Trailer Park Baby Maker and Mulletopia, they at least come in at ten bucks and under for many of them. Partiers can also expect nostalgic retro snacks like Twinkies and Cheez Whiz and crackers.

The vintage trailer park decor comes via Houston artist Caitlin Caselli and set veteran Abigail Kehr. Patrons can expect interactive vignettes, games and selfie scenes. On the Astroturf patio, Adirondack chairs form a rainbow circle around kiddie pools equipped with toy fishing gear. This ain't your parents' beer joint.

Numbers Night Club, 300 Westheimer, will celebrate its grand reopening May 19. We'll have more details next week. You have less than a month to dye your hair black and find your Robert Smith-worthy eyeliner.

click to enlarge The Simple Basil is one of Zalat's less quirky offerings. - PHOTO BY KATHY TRAN
The Simple Basil is one of Zalat's less quirky offerings.
Photo by Kathy Tran

ZaLat Pizza, 510 Gray, will open its first Houston location this summer. The Dallas-based pizza concept has a cult following among its fans. Its team members are termed "Zealots" for their dedication to the quality of the pizza the company serves. and can even receive a free "Zealot" tattoo on their first anniversary of working with the company, if so desired.

Founder/CEO Khanh Nguyen, born in Vietnam, attended Klein Forest High School and is a graduate of the University of Houston. He founded ZaLat in 2015, across the street from his Vietnamese concept, DaLat.  Now, he's bringing his pizza concept to his old stomping grounds. The Midtown location will be the first expansion for the brand outside of the Dallas/Fort Worth area.

click to enlarge Khan Nguyen is serious about dough. - PHOTO BY KARA DRY
Khan Nguyen is serious about dough.
Photo by Kara Dry
The pizzas start with scratch-made dough and sauce made from oven-roasted tomatoes and fresh basil. Elevated ingredients like 100 percent beef pepperoni and carefully-sourced cheeses are what contribute to its popularity. It also pushes the envelope with its pizza creations including pies like the Nashville Hot Chicken and Pickles and The Meatza. The Pho Shizzle is topped with chicken, red bell pepper, caramelized onions, hoisin and a sriracha swirl while the Elote offers a base of its signature Srirancha sauce, corn, lemon pepper, parmesan and Valentina swirl. Anti-pineapple-on-pizza believers may change their mind with the Pineapple Express, a pizza topped with bacon, pineapple, cilantro, red pepper and teriyaki sauce. Or maybe not.

Sriracha and cilantro make their way onto a number of the pizzas at ZaLat but traditionalists have choices, too, like The NYC, a New York-style pie with extra oregano, cheese, pepperoni or sausage. There's also a Margherita with grape tomatoes and The Cheese, which speaks for itself.

For those seeking employment, the company offers equity ownership after a year of employment plus benefits and a 401(k) to full-time staff.

click to enlarge Gloria's Latin Cuisine comes to Katy. - PHOTO BY BRIAN PENROD
Gloria's Latin Cuisine comes to Katy.
Photo by Brian Penrod
Gloria's Latin Cuisine, 23333, Grand Circle Boulevard, opened April 2. This is the third Houston location for the Texas-based chain which operates 22 restaurants altogether across the Lone Star State as Gloria’s continues its steady growth throughout Texas, with an additional location slated to open in Prosper, Texas in the last quarter of 2021. Gloria’s was founded by Gloria and Jose Fuentes and inspired by the traditions of El Salvador. Tex-Mex additions have provided diversity while blending tradition and innovation for more than 30 years.

click to enlarge The decor at Gloria's Katy is stunning. - PHOTO BY BRIAN PENROD
The decor at Gloria's Katy is stunning.
Photo by Brian Penrod
Known for its Salvadoran and Tex-Mex cuisine, the restaurant offers margaritas, signature cocktails and its famous Black Bean Dip. There are Tex-Mex standards like tacos, burritos and combination plates plus fajitas and carne asada. Guests can also find Salvadoran specialties like Lechon Asado, a pork tenderloin with chile ancho sauce. There are also pupusas, tamales, grilled quail, Pescada Acajutla and Platano Frito (fried plantains).

"We're very excited to make our Katy debut," said founder Gloria Fuentes-Rubio. “We have an amazing location and we've hired an exceptional staff. We look forward to sharing the Gloria’s experience with our neighbors in Katy and throughout the Houston area."

click to enlarge The fountain gives a feel of a town plaza. - PHOTO BY BRIAN PENROD
The fountain gives a feel of a town plaza.
Photo by Brian Penrod
The Gloria’s in Katy features a bright, spacious interior with abundant natural light. Salvadoran-inspired art and clay pots line the walls. There's an expansive patio and bar.

Gloria's in Midtown, at 2616 Louisiana, just re-launched its Gloria's Nightlife, a weekend Latin-music event that happens on Friday and Saturday evenings after dinner service.

click to enlarge That's one fancy tostada! - PHOTO BY VICTORIA CHRISTENSEN
That's one fancy tostada!
Photo by Victoria Christensen
Uli's Kitchen, 8021 Research Forest, is shooting to open in early May but a spokesperson for the restaurant said that there isn't a definite date as of yet. This is the first concept for Luna Hospitality Group. The restaurant comes from husband and wife, Chef David "Ulises" Alcaraz and Bonnie Alcaraz. While Chef David will be running the kitchen and creating authentic Mexican dishes, wife Bonnie will serve as general manager.

Chef David came to the United States in 1989 from Orizaba in Veracruz, Mexico. He started in the restaurant industry as a dishwasher and prep cook at Vene Vidi Vici, a restaurant in Atlanta. He worked his way up the ranks at the restaurant before departing to work in varying cuisines including Japanese, Italian, Mexican, Cuban and Americana. He became executive chef at Oliviana Ristorante Italiano in Augusta, Georgia in 2012. Wife Bonnie has years of front of house experience working in the industry in Atlanta and Augusta as well.

click to enlarge Holy Mole-y! - PHOTO BY VICTORIA CHRISTENSEN
Holy Mole-y!
Photo by Victoria Christensen
Diners can expect traditional dishes with modern touches like Mole Almendrado and Aguachile Negro de Ahi Tuna. The Camarones Fritos will be far more than just fried shrimp. The version at Uli's will be a dish of tempura-style shrimp, thinly-sliced jalapenos, tamarind glaze and a chipotle-lime aioli. There will also be its version of Tacos de Birria. The chef's Italian experience shows in his Osso Buco En Pipian de Cacahuate, a slow roasted pork shank in red mole with peanuts, dried peppers and spices. Veracruz-style cocktails made with shrimp or a combination of shrimp, octopus and crab will be flavored with tomatoes, onions, cilantro, jalapenos, cucumber and cocktail sauce.

click to enlarge David and Bonnie Alcaraz are opening their first restaurant in The Woodlands. - PHOTO BY VICTORIA CHRISTENSEN
David and Bonnie Alcaraz are opening their first restaurant in The Woodlands.
Photo by Victoria Christensen
The De Las Calles section of the menu will offer tacos, tostadas and enchiladas while house specialties, steaks, soups and salads offer something for everyone. The Recetas de la Abuela portion will offer traditional grandmother recipes.

The 2,100 square-foot restaurant will retain the large floor to ceiling windows in front of the restaurant that were left in place by the previous tenant. The space, however, has undergone a major remodel with an improved kitchen and expanded full-service bar, designed by B&D Community Design Studio.

Adriatic Grill, 27700 Katy Freeway, will open a fourth location at the end of 2021. It is currently under construction. The family-owned Italian restaurant has been a suburban favorite in Cypress off Highway 290 for nearly a decade. Owners Ekrem Hyseni and Alban Bulliqui came to the United States from Albania with their families before opening their own restaurant.  Its success has led to two other locations in the past four years in Tomball and Spring.

click to enlarge Feges BBQ is putting together its Spring Branch team. - PHOTO BY FEGES BBQ
Feges BBQ is putting together its Spring Branch team.
Photo by Feges BBQ
Feges BBQ, 8217 Long Point, has announced three principal members of its opening team for its second location in Spring Branch. Griffin Bearicks will serve as general manager with 14 years of restaurant experience including the management team at Southside Market and Barbecue in Hutto, Texas. Marco Coleman will serve in the role of chef de cuisine. The Guatemalan-born Coleman was raised in Charlotte, North Carolina and found his inspiration for cooking and the restaurant industry from his grandfather and parents who owned a diner in the Appalachian Mountains. He moved to Texas after college and has done stints as chef de cuisine and executive chef at local establishments like Sambuca and Postino. Pitmaster Vince Boisaubin is a Houston native who has experience with butchery and live-fire cooking including gigs at Liberty Kitchen and Cherry Block.

The Spring Branch location will be opening soon and owners Patrick Feges and Erin Smith will host a job fair at the Feges BBQ at Greenway Plaza May 6 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. to fill positions at the new location which pay from $14 to $18 an hour. Bring yourself, your resume and a pen.

El Caribeno, 12904 Fry, celebrated its grand opening April 17, complete with a salsa band. This is the second location for the Caribbean-inspired restaurant which serves traditional Puerto Rican dishes and tropical cocktails. Its first restaurant opened in 2018 in Spring at 3835 Louetta.

Diners can start of with Empanadillas, Stuffed Potato balls or dig in to the Caribeno Fries, a plate of crispy French fries topped with triple meat, two different cheeses and garlic aioli. There are a variety of salads plus soup choices such as sancocho, a beef soup with herbs and root vegetables, served with rice, avocado and garlic bread. Entree options include Pollo Asada, Pollo Guisada, Churrasco and Chillo Frito ( whole fried snapper). There is a whole section of the menu devoted to fried green plantains which are mashed with garlic and olive oil and served with a choice of protein.

For dessert, three different flavors of flan are on the menu along with tornillos, pastelillos de guayaba ( a pastry with guava filling) and pastries from Boricua's Bakery, a Puerto Rican bakery in Katy. The restaurant also serves breakfast.

Beverages include Coke products, fresh fruit juices and Cafe El Caribeno or Cafe Lareno. Caribbean cocktails like mojitos and pina coladas add to the island feel along with sangria, Island Ritas and the Coco Whiskey, made with fresh coconut water and whiskey combined.

Old Harbor Cajun Seafood and Bar, 6935 FM 1960 W., opened April 12 in the Champions area. It offers seafood boils, fried baskets and po'boys in a casual atmosphere. Starters include breaded chicken wings, fried calamari, and Crabmeat Fries. The cold bar section of the menu has raw oysters and cocktail shrimp. There's also gumbo, clam chowder and shrimp etouffee.

Wine, beer, margaritas and other cocktails are available along with soft drinks. Happy hour runs Monday through Saturday from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.
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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.