August 2012 Openings & Closings: Lucille's Lands in the Museum District and Dunkin' Donuts Hits Houston Hard
Lucille's had its soft opening earlier this week, and plans to host its grand opening on Monday, September 10. The restaurant is the latest addition to the food-starved Museum District, which recently saw the well-received Jade Stone Café open inside the Asia Society. Unlike the pan-Asian menu at Jade Stone, however, Lucille's is all Southern, all the time. Chef Chris Williams opened the restaurant as a tribute to his great-grandmother, Lucille Bishop Smith, who was a culinary pioneer in Texas. Says Williams:
Photos courtesy of Lucille's Chef Chris Williams is opening Lucille's in tribute to his great-grandmother, Texas culinary pioneer Lucille Bishop Smith.
Growing up, I heard bits and pieces about my great-grandmother. It wasn't until just a few years ago that I found out that she and her family owned U.S. Smith's Famous BBQ and Lucille's Fine Foods General Store in Fort Worth, Texas. As a home economist, she established one of the first college level commercial foods and technology departments in the U.S., at Prairie View A&M University. She also published sets of recipes for home cooks, sold the first All Purpose Hot Roll Mix in grocery stores and served her famous chili biscuits on American Airlines, and to such notables as Martin Luther King, Jr. and Eleanor Roosevelt.
In keeping with Lucille herself, the restaurant will serve items such as her "claim to fame" chili biscuits, fried green tomatoes, shrimp and grits, watermelon salad and braised oxtails. While in its soft opening phase, Lucille's will only be open for dinner Tuesdays through Saturdays from 5 until 10 p.m. After September 10, Lucille's plans to be open for lunch seven days a week and dinner on Tuesdays through Saturdays.
Although it's barely been open a week, I'm already predicting Cuchara (214 Fairview) to win an award for a category I'm making up right now: Best Use of Illustration in a Restaurant. Take a look at the fanciful drawings that artist Cecilia Beaven created for the Mexican restaurant's menu over at Cuchara's Facebook page. Beaven is also responsible for the mural that's a focal point of the beautiful dining room as well as the mural above the bar.
Photo courtesy of Cuchara Artist Cecilia Beaven created the murals inside Cuchara.
Good news for fans of Dunkin' Donuts' cult-favorite coffee: The Houston Business Journal reports that 24 more locations are coming to Houston within the next few years. Three different franchise groups are responsible for the locations. Wrote Olivia Pulsinelli of the upcoming donut shops: "Daily Grind LLC plans to develop eight restaurants in southeast Houston by 2018, according to the statement. MM Donuts LLC expects to develop five restaurants in northeast Houston by 2019. Yes Partners LLC has agreed to develop five restaurants in west Houston by 2017."
Food trucks are no longer limited to taco trucks or renegade chefs. Brick-and-mortar restaurants such as Sylvia's Enchilada Kitchen were smart to get into the game early, and now even fast food joints -- yes, McDonald's and Taco Bell included -- have their very own mobile units. Joining the fray is Berryhill Baja Grill, with a food truck that's "fresh off the assembly line," according to its PR firm. Look for the truck to hit the streets starting in September.
Graduates of the Cordúa Restaurants group tend to do pretty well for themselves, having been trained well under Michael Cordúa's guidance. So expect good things from Costa Brava Bistro, which B4-U-Eat reports is being opened by "Angeles Dueñas, formerly of Cordua Restaurants." Says B4-U-Eat's weekly newsletter, Costa Brava is "a French and Spanish/Basque restaurant" that plans to be open for lunch Mondays through Fridays and dinner Mondays through Saturdays.
Last but not least, it's true: Pie in the Sky's location in the Heights has closed. Sort of. In its place is Table 19, which -- according to its Facebook page a few days ago -- won't be too dissimilar: "Pie in the Sky is re-opening as Table 19!" A few new menu items and a paint job have been added, and Table 19 has since opened for business.
On the next page, openings and closings for the entire month of August...
5512 La Branch St., Houston, TX