Stepping into Hobbit Cafe feels like being transported into Middle Earth, the fantasy land that serves as the setting for “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit” series.

The restaurant is covered in memorabilia from the series, ranging from an embroidered map that features all of the major landmarks to a life-size Gollum statue acquired from the Houston Museum of Natural Science that sits up high in a corner.

Capturing the essence of the franchise was always at the forefront for John Edmonds, who co-owns the eatery with his father, Raymond Edmonds Jr., who opened it in 1972.

“The Hobbit is an amazing fantastic story realm world, [and] it was always pretty relevant at the time as far as the [hippie] counterculture,” John said.

Originally called the Hobbit Hole and located at 1715 S. Shepherd Drive, the restaurant relocated in 2000 to 2243 Richmond Ave. The owners got the approval of the family of J. R. R. Tolkien, who wrote the series, John said, which is something he said most themed places cannot claim.

The restaurant initially only served vegetarian fare up until the 1980s before adding menu items such as burgers, tacos and sandwiches. It also serves an extensive selection of wine, beer and mead.

The restaurant is coming up on its 50th anniversary in January with plans for a large party in the spring. It also hosts trivia nights and celebrations on days such as the equinoxes and the solstices.

John has been helping out at Hobbit Cafe since age 13. Over the years, he has seen many regulars, or as he calls them, “OG Hobbits.”

“We’ve got some of the OG Hobbits, although those folks are getting old,” he said. “We’ve got the vegetarian [and] vegan crowd. We have, obviously, the fans of the lore, [and] we’ve got the brunchers.”

Moving forward, John said he hopes to be able to keep the restaurant in the family and to one day expand to another location.

“At the end of day, we kind of get caught up in the lore and all that. It’s a great environment,” he said.

Hobbit Cafe

2243 Richmond Ave., Houston


Hours: Mon.-Thu. 11 a.m.-9 p.m., Fri.-Sat. 11 a.m.-10 p.m., Sun. 11:30 a.m.-9 p.m.