Dining concepts such as farm-to-table restaurants and gastropubs—typically seen inside Houston's inner loop—are making their way to Cy-Fair. Several fresh concepts have appeared on the area's dining landscape in the past few months, and more independent eateries are set to open their doors to the community this summer.
"As populations grow and metro areas expand, you tend to see larger chains going in first," said Wendy Saari, vice president of marketing and communication for the Texas Restaurant Association. "As suburbs grow large enough to support multiple restaurants, you see independent operators recognizing that great opportunity and opening up in the area."
The culinary scene in Houston has garnered statewide and national attention in recent months for several of its notable farm-to-table and fine dining restaurants such as Underbelly, Oxheart and Triniti. In Cy-Fair, several local restaurant owners are trying to bring a slice of inner-loop Houston to the suburbs with the addition of new nightlife and dining experiences.
"In the industry itself there is a trend toward wanting more local, homegrown and diverse dining opportunities as the consumer's tastes have gotten more sophisticated and metro areas have gotten more diverse, especially in Houston," Saari said.
The continued growth in Houston makes the area one of the best places to launch a new business, said Karen Sharp, senior consultant with the Lone Star College Small Business Development Center.
"The Cy-Fair area is seeing a lot of growth with Towne Lake and Bridgeland, and even though it's a residential area and doesn't have a city center, there are a lot of people who like to move and live out here, so you'll see more people wanting to eat and shop in Cy-Fair," she said.
Bart and Rachele Black's new restaurant Black's Market Table, at 11550 Louetta Road, will focus on rustic new American cuisine with a big highlight on seasonality and fresh offerings. The couple plans to locally source items for their restaurant expected to open in June.
"We want to pay homage to the event of eating," Rachele said. "We want people to enjoy time with the people in their community and their families, and we wanted to do something local in our community."
The Blacks plan to offer distinctive menu items such as shrimp and grits, a grilled cheese and short rib sandwich and sweet corn tamales. The restaurant will feature a core menu that will change two or three times annually along with a chalkboard menu that will be updated weekly based on fresh ingredients that come from local farmers markets.
Another new farm-to-table option is coming to the Cy-Fair area at Skinner Road and Hwy. 290. Hanan's Caf is set to open late this spring, with the same owners as nearby d'Vine Wine Bar.
"We are trying to introduce a new concept to Cypress with a gourmet coffee experience and breakfast, lunch and dinner options that represent the farm-to-table experience," partner Amy Vasquez said.
It is apparent a custom mark has been made in the dcor and cuisine at Facon Brazilian Steakhouse, a new restaurant that opened in early April at Vintage Park.
There are three categories of cuisine at the restaurant, including a prime meats menu, tapas in the lounge and an outdoor patio with a variety of lunch options. General manager Tony Nicoletta crafted the recipes during his years spent in the restaurant industry across the country.
"The tapas menu is very eclectic and outside the box," he said. "We have chicken and waffles, alligator tacos, a deconstructed sushi bowl and oxtail ravioli."
New nightlife options
The Willowbrook area near FM 1960 and Hwy. 249 is home to several newer nightlife options—Barcelona Restaurant and Lounge and the upcoming Bar Louie—but Revolver is one of the first to offer choices outside the norm of what people might find at every other neighborhood bar, manager James Cole said.
"We felt there was a need for an alternative to the cookie cutter, corporate establishments," he said. "The gastropub is a very popular phenomenon, but to experience anything like it people have to drive 30 minutes into midtown or downtown."
Although Revolver is bar-centric, Cole does serve up food items such as truffle fries, burgers and flatbreads.
"This is a concept we plan on replicating in other suburban areas across the state," he said. "Every night someone tells me, 'Thank you for opening something like this up out here, we really needed it.'"
This fall, a new Bar Louie will open its doors in the Willowbrook area, providing craft cocktails, beer and a full menu.
"The ambiance is friendly, yet fun," said Diana Elkins, Willowbrook Mall marketing manager. "We think it's going to be popular for lunches and after-hours gatherings. Bar Louie is going to offer a spot to relax and enjoy."