If you've ever wished that Coppa Ristorante or Brasserie 19 could cater your next big party, you're in luck. Clark Cooper Concepts, the restaurant team behind Ibiza, Brasserie 19, Coppa Osteria, Coppa Ristorante and Punk's Simple Southern recently announced they secured a space at Buffalo Bayou Park for private events and grab-and-go meals.
"We've had thousands of requests for catering, but we don't like to close our restaurants to the general public," co-owner Grant Cooper explains. "We like to keep our business hours standard because we have so many regular customers. It's just kind of a thing we've always believed in. We thought if we did a private event space, we'd want it to be an exact replica of the food and service you'd get at one of our restaurants. We want the experience to represent a true dining experience, rather than a catering facility."
Enter The Dunlavy, coming in the summer of 2015.
Cooper says the Dunlavy has been on his mind for years, because he and his partner, Charles Clark, had always wished for a way to serve customers wanting to hold private events. When Buffalo Bayou Partnership approached the restaurant group about opening an event space in the park, the company saw an opportunity to expand.
"Buffalo Bayou Partnership wanted a tenant to represent Houston," Cooper says, noting that while the Dunlavy will be part of Buffalo Bayou Park, it will not be a partnership with Buffalo Bayou, as other reports have indicated. "We appreciate them selecting us, but it is a Clark Cooper Concepts restaurant. I want that to be known, because I don't want people to think the city has an influence on it. This will have our DNA and our philosophy on it."
Cooper sees it as a place for hosting a wide array of events, from rehearsal dinners to oil and gas parties to a private dinner for two "to get a fellow out of the doghouse." Because of its design--glass walls and neutral tones, the space can be turned into whatever a client desires.
"It's almost like a glass tree house," Cooper says. "The palate will be neutral so people can tweak it. We can change out chandeliers or anything else. The view will be all trees, and beyond the trees you have the skyline. You don't really need a lot of décor. What will change are the furniture fixtures for each event."
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The food will likely change for each event as well. Because the Dunlavy will be a Clark Cooper Concepts restaurant, people hosting events there will be able to choose what they want from any of the restaurant group's menus or mix and match. Cooper also says the chefs will be equipped to prepare any number of other dishes "from barbecue to sushi." The limits, he says, are "up to the imagination."
Those who haven't rented out the space can still get a sample of the Dunlavy cuisine with the grab-and-go counter serving the people who live, work and play nearby. Cooper says that because Buffalo Bayou Park is an active place, the food will be somewhat healthy and consist of items like sandwiches, salads and smoothies. There won't be anywhere to sit and eat at the venue, but diners can take their food down to the park for a relaxing meal.
And as for the name? It's obvious because the building rests near the intersection of Allen Parkway and Dunlavy, but there's more to it than that.
"Honestly, my wife and I have always liked that street name," Cooper admits laughing. "We were always looking for a cool space on Dunlavy so we could use the name. Sometimes the name is there first and the concept evolves from that."