Gatlin’s Fins and Feathers Opens Soon, Brisket Bar-BQ Closes This Week

Amanda M. Rye

Gatlin’s Fins & Feathers
, 302 W. Crosstimbers, will open in late June in the space which formerly housed Herrera’s Mexicatessen Restaurant. Located in Independence Heights, Greg Gatlin’s new concept will pay homage to Gulf Coast comfort cuisine and the neighborhood where Gatlin grew up, channeling the sense of community he felt there as a child.

click to enlarge Greg Gatlin pays tribute to his roots. - PHOTO BY LINDSEY COOPER

Greg Gatlin pays tribute to his roots.

Photo by Lindsey Cooper

The sequel to his famous Gatlin’s BBQ on Ella,  Gatlin’s Fins & Feathers is located in an area with a number of neighborhood churches and is just a mile and a half from where Gatlin himself attends church at Bella Vista Missionary Baptist Church. Because of that fact, the new restaurant will not only offer lunch and dinner, but a brunch service as well, drawing in Sunday worshipers for comfort cuisine.

Gatlin said in a press release, “It’s a neighborhood place, and we wanted it to feel that way: rustic, comfortable, and historic. It’s part of Independence Heights and we’re embracing that.” Gatlin added that he hopes people enjoy the atmosphere and the food to the point of saying, “It’s so damn good.”

click to enlarge This looks "so damn good" and we haven't even tasted it yet. - PHOTO BY LINDSEY COOPER

This looks “so damn good” and we haven’t even tasted it yet.

Photo by Lindsey Cooper

The new restaurant will be a  neighborhood fried chicken and Gulf seafood destination serving comfort food that speaks to the neighborhood’s history, with Gatlin creating a menu of everything from gumbo to fresh oysters to buckets of fried chicken, inspired by his local roots in the Independence Heights neighborhood.

click to enlarge Time and money mean tough decisions. - PHOTO BY BRISKET BAR-BQ

Time and money mean tough decisions.

Photo by Brisket Bar-BQ

Brisket Bar-BQ, 5208 Bissonet, will close June 5. The family-owned restaurant, catering service, and event space opened almost four decades ago in Bellaire, founded in 1983 by Sion Saghian. It offered expansive menus of comfort food classics including barbecue, burgers, loaded baked potatoes, chicken fried steak and seafood plates.

The choice to end Brisket Bar-BQ’s long run is a personal and professional decision for Saghian, who is ready to retire, travel and spend precious time with his family. However, after 40 years as an entrepreneur, the restaurateur also cites the current economy, supply chain issues and soaring food costs as contributing factors.

Saghian’s career in the food industry began as he worked in restaurants while earning a master’s degree in chemical engineering. However, the restaurant world called to him and he opened Brisket Bar-BQ in the early ’80s and then expanded the brand to include catering services. In 1994, he opened the Bellaire Banquet Center which could accommodate up to 300 people.

Loyal customers will still be able to find some of the dishes from Brisket Bar-BQ on the menu at New York Eatery, the Bellaire restaurant opened by Saghian’s son, Michael Saghian, in 2021. Details are currently being worked out. Michael’s company, Houston Catering Concepts, will continue to offer its Brisket Bar-BQ menu as well and many of the longtime Brisket Bar-BQ cooks and staff members will join the catering team.

“I want to thank our customers and all the people we have hosted over the years, ” Saghian says. “I love cooking and am still in the kitchen at home, while I look forward to helping Michael at New York Eatery and New York Deli & Coffee Shop. My life has been my work, and I have no regrets. Above all else, I am grateful.”

click to enlarge Chris Shepherd's Georgia James is on the move again. - PHOTO BY JULIE SOEFER

Chris Shepherd’s Georgia James is on the move again.

Photo by Julie Soefer

Georgia James, 1658 Westheimer, will have its last day of service at its current location June 11 before preparing for its move to Regent Square, an ambitious mixed-use development at 1203 Dunlavy.  A spokesperson says that the Underbelly Hospitality team are hoping to reopen the restaurant by July 1. The new space will allow for seating both upstairs and downstairs, along with an outdoor terrace.

The restaurant, named for Shepherd’s parents, first opened at 1100 Westheimer in October 2018, next door to another Underbelly Hospitality concept, Hay Merchant. In August 2021, the team at Underbelly Hospitality announced that its days at the 1100 Westheimer spot were ending after a decade. In January 2022, Hay Merchant closed permanently, then Georgia James moved to the One Fifth space when the final iteration, One Fifth Red Sauce Italian ended earlier this year.

click to enlarge It's time to get the party started! - PHOTO BY MOISES SIRIAS

It’s time to get the party started!

Photo by Moises Sirias

Fat Tuesday, 6841 N. Fry, opened Memorial Day weekend in Katy, on the heels of another location at 8366 Westheimer in late April. Real estate developers and restaurateurs Andrew Alvis (co-founder of Wild) and Clark Heebe are behind the Houston expansion of the New Orleans-style frozen cocktail brand which first began on Bourbon Street in New Orleans in 1984. Craig Himmel, Fat Tuesday’s Director of Operations, assisted in the opening of the original location and will manage the new bars as well. Alvis and Heebe also opened a location in Richmond earlier this year and are planning six additional Fat Tuesday spots in the coming months, including one in the Heights later this year.

click to enlarge It's a wall of yummy, frosty party drinks. - PHOTO BY MOISES SIRIAS

It’s a wall of yummy, frosty party drinks.

Photo by Moises Sirias

The frozen cocktail concept offers the ultimate Go-Cup experience with 18 different flavors like 190 Octane, Cat 5 Hurricane, Pina Colada, Jungle Juice and Margarita. Cocktail customizations are available and there  is a variety of souvenir cups and gallons-to-go. The frozen drinks are offered for pick-up or drink-in and there is also a drive-thru. Smart drivers will drive through, then home, before imbibing.

click to enlarge Wild in the Heights is getting a sister concept in Montrose. - PHOTO BY WILD CONCEPTS

Wild in the Heights is getting a sister concept in Montrose.

Photo by Wild Concepts

Wild, 1609 Westheimer, is expected to open in August 2022. It will be the second location for the CBD coffee shop and cocktail bar which opened its first spot at 2121 N. Shepherd in February 2022. It will be taking over the space which formerly housed Chris Shepherd’s UB Preserv, which closed this past December. The owners, cousins Adyson and Andrew Alvis, are also the brains behind Grinder’s Coffee Bar and the CBD Apothecary in West U.

The new Montrose location will be a coffee shop, dispensary and cocktail bar but it will also have high (cheeky)-end plates and tapas, with a number of hemp-infused dishes. Co-founder Adyson says, ” We are excited to bring Wild’s one-of-a-kind experience to Montrose and think it is the perfect location to launch our food options.”

Piper’s Burger, 2323 N. Shepherd, had a grand opening May 27 that was streamed by Fox 26 News’ Foodies & Friends with hosts Ruben Dominguez and Katie Stone sampling the new burgers. The burger joint is a revamping of the Piper family’s barbecue restaurant, Piper’s BBQ & Beer, which owners/brothers Justin, Weston and Brandon Piper opened in October 2020 in the Heights. It received solid reviews but general manager Ryan Manos told Dominguez and Stone that the high cost of brisket figured into the owners’ decision to switch concepts.

The burgers are of the trendy smashburger persuasion and the Classic has two 3-ounce patties topped with sharp American cheese. There’s also a Poblano burger, a ‘Shroom burger with sauteed mushrooms, onions and Swiss cheese and the Dos Manos, a massive brisket burger with four patties. You’ll need two hands to handle the beast which is topped with house-made barbecue sauce. Sides include hand-cut fries, onion rings and tater tots.

The Piper brothers are in the construction business, in addition to being restaurateurs. In September 2019, Brandon and Justin Piper opened Preslee’s Southern Good Eatery on W. 19th.

Unfortunately, after the grand opening of Piper’s Burger, the restaurant was burglarized, as reported by ABC 13. Thieves then targeted Preslee’s on the following Memorial Day, May 30, stealing a safe with $5,000 cash. Though the GPS tracker led to the safe being found, the contents were long gone.

It wasn’t the first time that Piper’s Burger had been hit. On May 2, 2022, thieves took a tankless water heater and other items, according to The Leader News. The restaurant had not even opened yet. A suspect was later apprehended in that incident. And recently, another planned restaurant from the brothers, Piper’s Cantina, was burglarized with $80,000 worth of equipment stolen.

Due to the spate of burglaries, the Pipers have decided to operate their restaurants on a cashless basis.

click to enlarge Go trad or rad at Zalat. - PHOTO BY ZALAT PIZZA

Go trad or rad at Zalat.

Photo by Zalat Pizza

Zalat Pizza, 4802 Washington, will open June 7. This is the fourth location for the inventive pizza concept which offers take-out, third-party delivery and limited dine-in seating. It is also open late night, a fact that has added to its appeal since it first opened in Dallas in 2015.

With scratch-made dough and house-made sauce, it has garnered a following for its pizzas which are cooked in traditional deck ovens, resulting in pies that are balanced between crispy and chewy. All pizzas are taste-tested for months before be added to the menu. Founder and CEO Khanh Nguyen says, “Beyond the basics, however, we offer bold and inventive designs such as the Nashville Hot Chicken & Pickles, Pho Shizzle, Elote, Loaded Notato, Pineapple Express and more.” Nguyen also says that its trademarked sauce, Srirancha, has a following of its own.

click to enlarge Looks a lot nicer than when we were at school. - RENDERING BY PERKINS & WILL

Looks a lot nicer than when we were at school.

Rendering by Perkins & Will

University of Houston, 4800 Calhoun, broke ground recently on its new food hall, The Hub, which is expected to open in spring 2024. The two-story 41,000 square-foot facility will replace the old Student Center Satellite building which closed permanently in 2020 due to infrastructure problems.

The new retail food hall has been designed by Perkins & Will, a research-based architecture and design firm. Designed as part of a larger campus dining strategy, to improve food access, the development will also increase serving space to meet the demands of a growing enrollment while providing more variety and enhancing student engagement. The 40 million dollar project will have Turner Construction Company as the general contractor.

click to enlarge Shasta watches over the groundbreaking. - PHOTO BY THE UNIVERSITY OF HOUSTON

Shasta watches over the groundbreaking.

Photo by The University of Houston

The Hub will have an open floor plan with food being freshly prepared in front of guests rather than relying on machine-made foods. There will be community tables, outdoor patio seating and abundant natural light. It will be the first mass timber building on campus.

The actual restaurant concepts have yet to be determined but student surveys have been compiled with options such as tacos, Asian fusion, Mediterranean cuisine and burger concepts topping the lists of many students’ preferences.

This Coog mom hopes the powers that be consider a reasonably-priced grocery or market with fresh vegetables and fruits among the future food offerings.

click to enlarge There are classic and creative chicken salad choices for everyone. - PHOTO BY CHICKEN SALAD CHICK

There are classic and creative chicken salad choices for everyone.

Photo by Chicken Salad Chick

Chicken Salad Chick, 101 Winding Way, will launch its grand opening weekend June 15 in Lake Jackson. It’s the  11th store for the chicken salad brand in the Greater Houston area and the third for franchisees Kim and Clarke Hayes of H7 EATS, LLC. The couple opened their first in Pearland in 2020, followed by another in Pasadena in January 2022.

The first day, June 15, the first 100 early birds, or chicks, will receive a Free Chicken Salad For a Year which will entitle each recipient to one large Quick Chick of chicken salad per month for a year with purchase of The Chick or any menu item of greater value. One lucky guest will be randomly selected to win one large Quick Chick of chicken salad per week for a year. The check-in begins at 7 a.m. with guests receiving an assigned number and a designated return time between 10 a.m. to 11 :15 a.m. Guests will then be required to enter a code on the Chicken Salad Chick app to secure their spot.

click to enlarge Clarke and Kim Hayes are bringing Chicken Salad Chick to Lake Jackson. - PHOTO BY CHICKEN SALAD CHCIK

Clarke and Kim Hayes are bringing Chicken Salad Chick to Lake Jackson.

Photo by Chicken Salad Chcik

On June 16, the first 100 guests to purchase a Chick Special will receive a free Chick Special for their next visit. On June 17, the first 50 guests to purchase a Chick Trio will get a free Chick Tumbler. And on June 18, the first 50 guests to purchase two large Quick Chicks will receive a free large Chick Cooler.

click to enlarge Crave's new flavors are inspired by ice cream. - PHOTO BY CRAVE

Crave’s new flavors are inspired by ice cream.

Photo by Crave

Crave Cupcakes, 1151 Uptown Park Boulevard, launched its ice cream-inspired flavors June 1 and the five new treats will be available through June 30 at all three locations including Uptown Park, The Woodlands and Kirby. The limited time flavors include Mint Chocolate Chip, a dark chocolate cupcake with mint cream cheese frosting, Butter Pecan, Cookies and Cream, Neapolitan and Stracciatella.

Top Chef Houston competitor, Evelyn Garcia, is part of the line-up. - PHOTO BY TRISH BADGER

Top Chef Houston competitor, Evelyn Garcia, is part of the line-up.

Photo by Trish Badger

James Beard Foundation’s 10th Annual Taste America Culinary Series is happening June 29 at Silver Street Studios, 2000 Edwards. Presented by Capital One, the event, in partnership with Houston First, brings together some of the best local chefs and restaurants for an evening of delicious food and culinary experiences.

The line up of Houston chefs curated by the James Beard Association include Michelle Wallace, (Gatlin’s BBQ), Cassie Shortino (Phoenix), Dawn Burrell (Late August), Christine Ha and Tony Nguyen (Xin Chao), Evelyn Garcia and Henry Lu (KIN), Rebecca Masson (Fluff Bake Bar), Ruben Ortega (Xochi) and Kaitlyn Steets (Theodore Rex). There will be ten different chef tasting stations plus multiple bars. There will also be entertainment from DJ Seek, better known as Robin Wong of Blood Bros. BBQ.

Chef Christine Ha will be a food station host along with Chef Tony Nguyen (not pictured). - PHOTO BY JULIE SOEFER PHOTOGRAPHY

Chef Christine Ha will be a food station host along with Chef Tony Nguyen (not pictured).

Photo by Julie Soefer Photography

A portion of the proceeds will go to the participating chefs’ restaurants with the rest benefitting the JBF’s national programming such as its Open for Good campaign, which has been helping independent restaurants rebuild from the pandemic.

Tickets are $175 for general and $225 for premier. Premier arrivals begin at 6 p.m. while general admission begins at 7 p.m. For more information go to

Openings Reported for May 2022:

Aiko, 1902 Washington, opened May 2
Andy’s Bar & Grill, 27200 Highway 290, opened April 12
Cafe Louie, 3401 Harrisburg, opened May 11
Cinnaholic, 6535 N. Grand Parkway, opened May 6
Clutch City Cluckers, 1005 Katy Fort Bend Road, opened May 20
Deen’s Cheesesteaks and Pizza, 12740 Grant, opened early May
Freebirds World Burrito, 3112 W. Lake Houston Parkway, opened May 9
Goode Co. Fish Camp, 8865 Six Pines, opened May 3
Gourmet Ranch, 11215 Old Fairbanks N. Houston, opened May 18
Hamsa, 5555 Morningside, opened May 11
La Calle Tacos, 3321 Ella Boulevard, opened early May
Jeremiah’s Italian Ice, 7918 Fry, opened May 24
Parlour Hideaway, 400 Dallas, opened mid-May
Passerella, 9945 Barker Cypress, opened May 17
Refuge, 1424 Westheimer, opened May 17
Triple S Pho & Grill, 414 W. Grand Parkway S., opened early May
Uchiko, 1801 Post Oak Boulevard, opened May 23

Closings Reported for May 2022:

Fresco Cafe Italiano, 3277 Southwest Freeway, closed May 2
Jimmy Wok, 2268 W. Holcombe, closed February 25
Leibman’s Eatery, Market, Gifts, 10100 Katy Freeway, closed May 16
Thai Gourmet, 6324 Richmond, closed early May

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