UPDATED: Gravitas Closes Unexpectedly Over the Weekend

Categories: Restaurant News

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Photo by Troy Fields
Beef burgundy at Gravitas, from Robb Walsh's 2005 review of the restaurant.
UPDATE: Liquid Gold Hospitality emailed its response, which can be found at the end of this post.

The building at 807 Taft once housed the original Antone's Famous Po' Boys & Deli. By 2005, it had closed and reopened as Gravitas, owned by talented chef-turned-restaurateur Scott Tycer and manned by the equally talented Jason Gould. Gould departed in a firestorm in 2009, in a move that the Chronicle documented as a "chefs' rift grows into a chasm."

Now, less than three years later, Gravitas is closed.

"Its a beautiful restaurant," said Ginger K. Winship, operations manager for Kraftsmen, who confirmed the closure this morning. "It was really sad having to pack it all up."

Winship said that a notice had been left for employees, informing them of the last-minute closure and an opportunity to pick up final paychecks from Tycer at Kraftsmen Baking, who owns the lease on the space once again after having sold it to investors Liquid Gold Hospitality Group last March.

"Regrettably, we have to shut down Gravitas Restaurant effective Sunday, January 8, 2012," the notice read. "The closure is driven by the failure of Liquid Gold Hospitality, under the terms of our Operating Agreement with them, to maintain current payments on our bank note."

The note further alleged that Liquid Gold Hospitality "blatantly violated the terms" of their operating agreement with Kraftsmen, putting the restaurant several months behind on loan payments.

Andrew Kaldis at Taft Venture owns the actual building at 807 Taft, while Tycer -- and later Liquid Gold Hospitality -- operated the restaurant inside the space through a lease with Kaldis. Selling the lease (along with all of the equipment in the building) allowed Tycer to focus on Kraftsmen, although he decided to purchase the lease back from Liquid Gold Hospitality when the restaurant's lease costs began to exceed its sales figures. But it appears that this last-minute effort to save the restaurant was too little, too late.

"We have tried to negotiate with the bank, but they are forcing us to close the doors and they are taking our equipment in lieu of payment," explained the note as to why the restaurant is now bare. Liquid Gold Hospitality did not return a request for comment; we'll update this entry if they do.

The closure comes a year-and-a-half after rumors that Gravitas was shutting down in July 2010, a month after Tycer's other restaurant -- Textile -- closed its doors for good. (This, despite the fact that Tycer told the Press it was only for a "summer vacation.") Tycer's former restaurant, Aries, closed in 2007 and he now mans Kraftsmen Baking full time, which keeps busy running two cafes and supplying bread to many of Houston's popular restaurants.

Gould, meanwhile, has been working with Cyclone Anaya, revamping the Tex-Mex classic's menu. On his Facebook page today, Gould posted: "Even after everything that happened its still sad to see Gravitas close. So many good memories, great guests & loyal employees."

For his part, Tycer -- who bought the Gravitas lease back from Liquid Gold Hospitality this past November -- is sad too. Said one of the final paragraphs of the note to his now-unemployed staff: "Words cannot express how sorry we are that this had to happen with such short notice. Scott Tycer and Gravitas Management did everything in their power to keep the restaurant open for our loyal customers and keep all of you employed."

***

Stephen Ross of Liquid Gold Hospitality emailed us his response to the closure:

It is unfortunate that Mr. Tycer has chosen to place his private circumstance in the public media, again. The facts as he represented them are not true, unwarranted, and have no basis whatsoever. Coconut Grove, Ltd. increased the operating revenues at Gravitas dramatically and resolved many issues at the restaurant. The management agreement was terminated at the end of October. The operation was returned to Mr. Tycer in better financial condition. Mr. Tycer has chosen to close the restaurant for his own reasons, none of which involve Coconut Grove, Ltd or Liquid Gold Hospitality Group, LLC. GO TEXANS!!!!!


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Location Info

Gravitas - CLOSED

807 Taft, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

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22 comments
Tony
Tony

Another hauteur, snotty, over-priced eatery goes out of business. Let me contain my tears. 

Ali
Ali

Having met Stephen Ross and knowing how he treated a friend of mine, I'm not surprised. 

I loved Gravitas. I lived a block away for a couple of years and would go anytime I could. I loved the food and the building. I always had a great time there and really dug their "Chick Flick Tuesdays". 

I was in the lounge one night when Stephen was super-awesomely nice to us and gave us all sorts of free food and booze and whatnot. Because he wanted to hit on my friend, to which he was less than a gentleman to.

I also ran in to one of the waiters there at another restaurant who told me that they weren't getting treated very well and he had to leave. Great waiter- really conscientious and friendly without being creepy.

Sad to see. If I had money I'd grab that space and do something fun with is. It's so freakin' cool inside.

allen
allen

Sounds like Tycer doesn't know how to manage a restaurant.

.....
.....

i have my money on tillman buying the lease...

pbd007
pbd007

This blog post is incomprehensible. I know that a blog post is not expected to meet the same standards as an actual news piece. But, who the h*ll are all these people referred to in this post and why should I care about them.

pedro
pedro

I guess Taft Ventures will be out of lease payments....Kaldis ruined Berta's.

pedro
pedro

SAd...it was a good place

Tim
Tim

I will never forget a wonderful anniversary dinner that Chef Gould prepared for me one year.  If he hadn't left, I would've returned every year thereafter.  I'm hoping to see him in his own kitchen someday!

Pennywise
Pennywise

Referesh my memory: Liquid Gold is Steven Ross, right? Who owns some other joints in Houston/Austin?

sbterry
sbterry

The food may have been good, but this is just another example of chef ego vs. patron.  Sorry -- Tycer was arrogant at his Aries where any minor request for a change on a plate whether for dislike or allergy was met with grand "horror".  Result -- CLOSED despite his talent.  Textile -- CLOSED.  Gravitas - nasty argument with Gould, "sale", CLOSED.  I am not saying that chef's need to "dumb down" their offerings, but I do believe that the customer can have some input without offending said chef.  Also see, Randy Rucker.....

Will
Will

The fact it took 3 years to go down the drain is a testament to the fact their food was pretty good. Their service was appalling. I'm not taking having the bad luck to have a bad waiter one time either.

Corey
Corey

For heaven's sake bring back Antones!!!!! And not the awful corporate Antones, if I want that I know where Krogers is...

Felder
Felder

Wasn't that next door?

Katharine Shilcutt
Katharine Shilcutt

Which people are you referring to? I feel like they're all pretty neatly defined: Tycer, the former owner; Gould, the former chef, etc. And if you find the post to be incomprehensible, it could be because the situation itself is a Gordian knot. I don't know what else to tell you.

And if you don't know who most of these people are or care about them, it could be because you don't keep up with the Houston food scene, much in the same way that I wouldn't recognize a Texans player if I ran into him on the street because I don't follow sports. What news you choose to follow is your issue, not mine.

Discgolfer22
Discgolfer22

Go to Anthonies on Stuebner Airline just North of 1960. It used to be an Antones, but they are still doing the food the right way. Love it, but can't stand all the new Antones food.

Txzin
Txzin

Well said Katharine!

Corey
Corey

Anthony's, I know I'm from Klein.. :)

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