David Frey has had a lifelong ambition of opening his own restaurant, an ambition he discovered at the age of 10.

"I remember when I was 10, I sat down and designed my first restaurant," Frey said. "It was not until high school did I realize that what I had designed was actually a food court in the mall."

The interest and passion to work in the restaurant and hospitality industry he discovered at a young age never left him and in July 2013 he fulfilled his dream by opening Frey's Backyard Cafe in Tomball with his wife, Joanna.

"We had a vision and an idea but how to implement it and pull it off, we didn't have a clue," David said.

The couple hired Philip Cutler, a restaurant consultant, and worked with him for two years while they developed the concept for their restaurant, he said. Cutler assisted the Freys in all facets of opening a restaurant from the design, look and layout to menu execution and what kitchen equipment to purchase.

"We really could not have done this without his help," David said.

Together David and Joanna built, designed and decorated the restaurant. The restaurant sits on the former location of the Frey family's real estate development office, where David worked for 25 years.

David said he was always a fan of icehouse-style restaurants and wanted to create a concept that was similar. With the help of Cutler, the Freys created a fast, casual restaurant that serves American favorites.

"Of course American favorites means different things depending on what part of the country you are in," David said. "Being in Texas, our food was influenced by Gulf Coast, Louisiana and Mexican cuisine. We serve comfort food and Texas favorites."

The menu at Frey's boasts a wide variety of options and diners can find items such as burgers, po-boys, salads, chicken fried steak, fried pork chops and crawfish.

"We have so much variety that there is something for everyone," Joanna said. "A whole family can be happy when they come here."

After nearly a year in business, the Freys said they are where they projected to be after a year and that business has been good. The two have put an emphasis on developing a loyal customer base and creating an environment where people feel at home and welcome. Frey's has a built-in backyard with artificial turf at the restaurant, which is used as a play area for kids when they come to eat with their parents.

"It gives the kids something to do and to have fun and allows the parents to have some time alone at dinner while the kids are off playing," David said. "The idea behind the backyard was that we wanted our restaurant to be a place that kids would choose to come and a place where the parents would be happy with that decision as well."

Since children are often the driving force behind where parents choose to eat, it made sense to provide the kids with an area to let loose, he said. The Freys said they want to attract people to their restaurant, but above all, they want their customers to return.

"We want the food you eat, the service you receive and the environment that you are in to leave you with the feeling that you can't wait to come back," David said.

Frey's Backyard Cafe

14441 FM 2920, Tomball 281-255-8282, www.freysbackyard.com, Hours: Tue.–Thu. 11 a.m.–9 p.m., Fri.–Sat. 11 a.m.–10 p.m., Sun. 11 a.m.–8 p.m.