Treebeards, 315 Travis, will close its doors permanently June 26, according to its Facebook page. The post cited a "huge increase in rent demanded by the landlord" as the reason for no longer being able to serve its customers from the longtime spot in Market Square.
In an email to the Houston Press, owner Charles Stinneford stated that they are heartbroken and that, despite the strong revenue at the Travis location, the massive increase in rent and the cost of capital expenditures would have made the new long-term lease impossible to accept. Stinneford said, " The landlord's proposed terms would have caused us to lose money for the next five years and that is not a recipe for success in the restaurant business. However, we are trying to find a new location in that part of downtown."
The Southern-style restaurant serves traditional comfort food like chicken fried chicken and meatloaf along with Cajun and Creole dishes such as chicken and sausage gumbo and shrimp etouffee. It first opened on Preston in 1978 before launching at the current Downtown spot in 1980.
It has been an iconic New Orleans-style fixture for the past 40 years, adding to the flavor of the Market Square neighborhood with its historical buildings and center park space. Despite being open solely for lunch, its five Downtown locations have maintained a strong clientele of office workers and residents. The other quick service restaurants are located in places such as 1100 Louisiana on the tunnel level and at Pennzoil Place, 711 Louisiana. For most diners, however, the flagship location with its iron balcony and Southern charm was the favorite.
With all of the bad news regarding Houston's restaurant community in the past several months, this is a big blow. Still, the owners plan to continue with opening the new location at 9655 Katy Freeway in July, as we reported here in the Houston Press. It will be the first Treebeards outside of Downtown and there will be a bar and patio. Matt Marcus is putting together the bar menu while Linda Salinas is developing the drinks menu at the new location. So, those on the west side will be able to enjoy some red beans and rice and delicious cocktails very soon.
During the pandemic crisis, Treebeards has also begun doing pop-ups around town with Family Packages and the full menu as well. Stinneford says the pop ups have been very well received and may become a regular part of the business. "You get Packages include the Traditional which is $9 per person and offers shrimp etouffee, red beans and sausage, a garden salad, French bread and its Buttercake and Brownie Squares. Other packages include the Fried Chicken ($10 per person) and the Gumbo ($10 per person). The packages require a minimum of four servings. This week, the restaurant will be popping up in the Heights, Cypress, Katy and West University. Check its Facebook page or website for more details.
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.