“The mom and pops were getting squeezed out, so this was sort of my way to develop a concept for locals,” McBurney said.
But he said he could not have done it without Director of Operations Jair Galloso. Since 2014, they have opened additional locations in Magnolia in 2016 and Spring in 2020.
“Seven years later, here we are,” McBurney said.
Fine dining, casual setting
McBurney wanted to make the concept of the restaurant a fine dining experience but with a business-casual atmosphere. The restaurant boasts a Woodlands motif that invites locals to learn more about their community.
“I wanted to make this restaurant about the history of The Woodlands,” said McBurney, who has lived in the township for 21 years. “There was nothing out there that really portrayed what The Woodlands was and the vision put forth by George Mitchell.
”The walls of Republic Grille are adorned with The Woodlands memorabilia, including images and maps, custom Woodlands decor and even a replica of the 1972 napkin on which George Mitchell drew his vision of The Woodlands.
“[McBurney] actually made me read a book [about The Woodlands] before I started. ... I learned so much,” Galloso said.
The bar seats bear name plates of regulars such as Wayne Walker, retired deputy chief of The Woodlands Fire Department.
“You’d be surprised at the number of regulars that come in here three, four, five, six days a week,” McBurney said. “They feel at home. And that’s the key.”Texas cuisine with a Southern twist
The Republic Grille menu hosts a variety of food ranging from award-winning American wagyu chicken-fried steak to 11 different salads to fish and poultry options.
“Growing up in Georgia, it was shrimp and grits and a lot of Southern-type food,” McBurney said. “And in Texas; it’s chicken-fried steak and things like that. So, our menu is a mesh of all of that.”
Republic Grille builds recipes from suggestions and passed-down family recipes. The cobbler, bread pudding and pecan pie are McBurney’s grandmother’s original recipes.
“Everyone kind of put their two cents in, and everybody got together,” Galloso said.
Republic Grille has The Woodlands-themed menu items, such as the Grogan salad, Chicken Woodlands and a Woodlands wrap.
McBurney said despite being in the restaurant industry for years, Republic Grille is the only restaurant he would open.
“[We] just do one thing and do it very well,” McBurney said.
The Republic Grille
4775 W. Panther Creek Drive, Ste. 490, The Woodlands
Hours: Sun.-Tue. 11 a.m.-8 p.m.,
Wed.-Sat. 11 a.m.-9 p.m.