One of Houston’s most prominent restaurant groups is opening a new project in Montrose. Agricole Hospitality, the Heights-based company behind Revival Market, Coltivare, and Eight Row Flint, announced Tuesday that it has assumed control of the space that formerly housed Lowbrow.
Work has already begun to transform the space — a dumpster full of debris occupies part of the parking lot — into a new concept called Night Heron. Agricole co-owner Morgan Weber tells CultureMap that the company worked out a deal with Lowbrow’s owner to retain the former concept’s existing permits, which speeds up the transition process. If all goes according to plan, Night Heron will open February 1.
“This entire deal has been a very fast moving, swift thing,” Weber tells CultureMap. “Had the opportunity that came up right after Thanksgiving to entertain the idea of taking the space over. With all the moving parts going on around the holidays, I feel like we got it done pretty quickly.”
Named for the seabirds that roost throughout Montrose, Weber says that Night Heron will straddle the line between the company’s two most popular concepts: more of a bar than Coltivare and more of a restaurant than Eight Row Flint. Ultimately, Weber says the company’s goal is to create a place that’s flexible enough to serve as both a place for casual weeknight dinners and as a couple’s last stop for a nightcap at the end of a date.
Weber says the renovations will lighten and modernize the space, which was home to Cafe Artiste and Sophia prior to becoming Lowbrow. Expect all new furniture, a new back bar, a new bar top, and more lighting.
“It’s going to be considerable brighter and less cave like than the space has historically been. The interior is getting painted this light green,” Weber says. “Definitely taking a step away from the masculinity at Eight Row.”
Julie Rogers will move from Coltivare to serve as general manager for the concept. In addition, she’ll create the cocktails and curate the beer list.
“She’s running with ideas for cocktails and beer that she’s had in her head for a really long time,” Weber says about Rogers, who in addition to being well-versed in cocktails has also earned the Cicerone certification for her beer expertise. “She’s been in our company for almost four years now. Her attention to detail is incredible, and she’s so likeable. I’m so excited that she’s moving over here to Night Heron.”
Jacob Pate, a well-traveled Houston chef who spent more than a year working at Coltivare and has recently been working at Nobie’s, will serve as executive chef. He will work with Agricole’s co-owner Ryan Pera and culinary director Vincent Huynh on a menu of shareable plates that are similar in approach to parts of the Coltivare menu. Rather than focus on a specific cuisine, the menu will offer straightforward dishes made with high-quality, locally-sourced ingredients.
“We just want to make really tasty food that people want to eat. We’re not trying to recreate the wheel here,” Weber says. Later he adds, “The one theme when we’ve been sitting in meetings is it’s going to be likeable and wantable food.”
Coltivare sommelier Jeb Stuart is creating the wine list, which will offer a 70 to 80 bottle wine list that Weber says will offer “a really good mix of domestic and international wines. Some that people are really comfortable (with), and some envelope pushes for people who want to get out a little bit.”
Meanwhile, work has finally begun on the company’s plans to open three new concepts in EaDo: a restaurant named Indianola, a bar named Miss Carousel, and a pizzeria named Vinny’s. The project’s contractor estimates a 16-week build out, which puts the opening around the beginning of May.
For now, the company is focused on bringing Night Heron to fruition as quickly as possible. Despite their success in the Heights, members of the Agricole team know Montrose well, too.
“This really was kind of an opportunity that came up,” Weber says. “Ryan lives three blocks from there. Vincent lived near there for years. He just moved to the Heights.”
According to Weber, Huynh is “pissed” that he just relocated, because he’s wanted a place like Night Heron in his old neighborhood for a long time. His personal loss sounds very much like Montrose’s gain.