Charlie Felts never saw himself in the restaurant business, but he loves it despite challenges, including losing a restaurant to Hurricane Harvey as well as his business partner and best friend, Chris Simon, in October.
“It feels certainly different around here without him. Chris and I have been working together and best friends for 35 years. He is certainly missed,” said Felts, Opus Ocean Grille owner. “But we have a great staff, and they have picked up all the slack. Everything is functioning as it should be.”
While Felts started in the restaurant industry as a busboy at 16 years old, he did not see himself becoming a restaurant owner until much later, when he was offered a job as manager at Joe’s Crab Shack.
Once Felts retired, a friend of his approached him to open a restaurant, which led to Felts opening Opus Bistro with Simon.
“Hurricane Ike had just hit and wiped out the restaurant that was initially in that location, and I knew the landlord. He called me up and asked me if I would consider doing a restaurant there, and I said, ‘Yeah. I need something to do. I’m really bored right now. I’m tired of playing golf,’” Felts said.
Felts and Simon opened Opus Bistro, a French- and New Orleans-style restaurant, in 2009. They opened Opus Ocean Grille, a seafood restaurant, in 2016. The most popular items at Opus Ocean Grille are the oysters and the red snapper topped with jumbo lump crab and hollandaise sauce, Felts said.
Felts’ wife, Tricia, chose the name Opus for the two restaurants, Felts said.
“Opus has several meanings, but the one that we refer to is ‘one’s life’s finest work,’” Felts said.
Felts was not sure the partners were going to reopen the bistro after it closed after Harvey until the right offer came around. The bistro will open in South Shore Harbor Resort in the coming months.
“It’s one of those kinds of things that you have to love what you are doing for a living, or you shouldn’t be doing it,” Felts said.