Houston Gets a Brewpub; Tyson Cole Talks Uchi

Categories: Restaurant News

I tried and failed to think of a clever tie-in with the Waugh Drive bat colony. Oh well. Beer!
Normally, we reserve restaurant opening and closings news for our weekly Friday roundups. But some news is too good to sit on, like the announcement from Scott Metzger -- owner of Freetail Brewing Co. -- that the San Antonio brewpub is expanding to Houston.

A deal has been inked that will place Houston's own Freetail Brewing Co. in an historic downtown building, which Metzger has declined to name. But it's a building with at least 20,000 square feet for the brewpub, which doesn't leave too many options. I've personally got my fingers crossed for the old Cotton Exchange location just off Market Square.

"When I started this company I would never have envisioned a Houston location," stated Metzger in a press release. "But through the diligent efforts of the Downtown District and the city's vocal craft beer fans, I've begun to fall in love with the city and I am looking forward to many beers there."

The plan for the brewpub includes three floors of restaurant and bar space, as well as a store where customers can purchase growlers of beer, among other merchandise. Freetail will also have a game room as well as extra space which Metzger hopes will one day accommodate wholesalers if and when HB 660 ever passes.

Despite the closure of Houston's previous brew pub, Two Rows, and the overall dearth of brewpubs in our city, Metzger is optimistic. "A lot of folks talk about the trail of failed brewpubs that litters Houston's past, but I don't think a brewpub is something that can't thrive here. I look at the amazing following that St. Arnold has built over its incredible lifespan and see what's possible."

He continued: "Organizations like Girls Pint Out, the Foam Rangers, the Bay Area Mashtronauts and Houston beer enthusiasts share a lot of the credit for this decision. They took to Twitter and Facebook and made an effort to show how much they wanted Freetail, and I heard that message loud and clear."

The Freetail brewpub will open in spring 2012 and will be hiring about 100 people, so get your bartending resumes ready if you want to get in on the ground floor.

Photo by yi
And in other exciting news, Chef Tyson Cole talked to Eater Austin's Paula Forbes fresh off his James Beard win (tie?) about the direction for the Houston version of Uchi. About the new location of his Austin sushi restaurant, Cole says:

We've gained some momentum, we've found some incredible people. We just want to continue to get better at Uchi every day. It just made sense to see if we could open a place outside of Austin. Houston made the most logical sense. The Houston space will be an Uchi, it won't be an Uchiko. It will be 97% identical to Uchi here. Just slightly bigger, not much at all. It will have a private dining room, which Uchi doesn't. But other than that, the menu's the same. Hopefully people will feel like they're at Uchi, but in Houston. We'll ship probably six people from Houston to here? It'll hopefully, knock on wood, it'll be close to the same. And Uchiko will be the only Uchiko ever.

There's more on Houston in the interview, so be sure to head over to Eater Austin to check the rest of it out, then try to decide which Texas-based import you're more excited about: sushi or beer.

Like Cole, I'm happy with a tie.

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Have any of you tried Uchi in Austin?  Went there for a "fancy dinner" one night.   It's about as good as Miyako - and that is not good enough for the outrageous prices.  The variety was limited, the taste was average and the service was too informal for the cost.  Houston already has MUCH better sushi at friendlier prices.  Prepare to be as disappointed as I was.

Fatty FatBastard
Fatty FatBastard

I recall the "brewpub" explosion in the 90's.  Two Rows, Rock Bottom, Houston Brewery, The Vault, etc.  I can't even recall how many but around ten opened as soon as TABC allowed it.  The biggest problem with all of them was they made crappy beer.  I heard it was originally due to trying to be the first out of the gate, but even 1-2 years later, it was still pretty crappy beer, and you could get better bottled microbreweries from other areas.  The concept can work, but only if the focus on the beer rather than the hype.


My guess is the old building at the southwest corner of Fannin and Prairie.  There has been some activity in/around it lately.  Or, to up the irony factor, Freetail could snag the location of the old Bank Draft brewpub.  Old Cotton Exchange is a beautiful building, but Metzger described the location as a "short walk" to the Dynamo Stadium -- don't think that would qualify.

Mai Pham
Mai Pham

I'm seriously so excited about Uchi, I can't stand it. 


So my guess on the Freetail location is the huge currently unfinished space in the ground floor of the new BG Group Place (formerly known as Main Place).  Then again, that would be a block and a half from the Flying Saucer...so perhaps not. 

I'm trying to think of other three story possibilities.

Edit: Nevermind, it's not BG Group Place. I think I found it the correct building elsewhere but I'll wait to hear from them.

Burnett Brian
Burnett Brian

Yeah, Uchi is absolutely amazing. Great food, service, and drinks. One of the only places I go that I'll ask my waiter what I'll be eating for the night. Don't waste your time w/ soy sauce...there's are all better suited to each dish. 

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