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Inside the Carrabba's on Kirby expansion: Details on three new restaurants, including the casual Mia's

Inside the Carrabba's on Kirby expansion: Details on three new restaurants, including the casual Mia's

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Mia's, the first of three upcoming Carrabba's near the corner of Kirby and Alabama, is set to open the first week of June, according to company officials. Photo by Tyler Rudick
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The newly-built Carraba's at the corner of Kirby and Main will take the name Johnny IV, after the owner Johnny Carrabba's son. Photo by Tyler Rudick
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Carrabba's has already placed flags on Argonne Street, heralding the arrival of its three upcoming restaurants Mia's, Grace's and Johnny IV. Photo by Tyler Rudick
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A large open kitchen sits at Mia's main entrance; a retro tin ceiling covers the first floor, along with antique-styled fans and lighting fixtures. Photo by Tyler Rudick
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Live oaks and a relaxing porch will meet guests at Mia's, the Texas-style take on the classic Carrabba's brand. Photo by Tyler Rudick
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A peak inside the new Mia's . . . sorry, camera strap got in the way. Photo by Tyler Rudick
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As it celebrates its 25th year as one of the city's most beloved family eateries, the original Carrabba's Italian Grill in River Oaks has embarked on a bold expansion project the will yield three new restaurants in three new structures near the intersection of Kirby and West Alabama.

After serving Houstonians for a quarter century, the popular restaurant will move into freshly-built digs yards to the south this fall and take on the slightly modified name of Carrabba's Johnny IV. Just north of the original building will be Grace's, an upscale version of Carrabba's that will open in February 2013 according to company officials.

"We'll have a smoker and serve up things like pulled pork and ribs," Tom Watkins says of Mia's, a c asual, Texas-style approach to the Carrabba's brand.

For the moment, however, all eyes are on the nearby shaded corner of Branard and Argonne where Mia's — a casual, Texas-style approach to the Carrabba's brand — will open in early June. Named after the owner's daughter, the restaurant takes the shape of a rather peaceful multistory home with a welcoming front porch and a pair of live oaks. Offices for the company will be located on the second floor.

"We'll have a smoker and serve up things like pulled pork and ribs," Mia's managing partner Tom Watkins tells CultureMap. "There will be sandwiches made using items and recipes from the original Carrabba's as well, like meatballs and sausage."

With this project nearly five years in the making, Watkins says city inspections are now only days away.

"We may get in the building in the next 10 days," he says. "Once we're in, we'll continue training, set up some mock services and plan for opening the first week of June."

Like Johnny IV and Grace's — named for the owner's son and mother, respectively — Mia's has been realized with the help of Eubanks Group Architects, Mission Construction, Matrix Structural Engineers, Judson Design and Moss Landscaping.