Along with a massive population boom, The Woodlands's restaurant scene is growing at an unprecedented rate. It comes as no surprise that one of the city's most savvy bar and restaurant groups will bring its most family-friendly concept to the growing suburb.
Crisp, the Shady Acres pizza restaurant with a well-chosen selection of wine and craft beer, will open a second location in the former site of Black Walnut Cafe on Research Forest Blvd. The restaurant is part of the same ownership group behind Washington corridor bar/restaurant Beer Market Co and Midtown bars Pub Fiction, Celtic Gardens and 3rd Floor.
"We believe the area needs more great restaurants," partner Fidan Baca tells CultureMap. "I moved there about seven or eight months ago, and there’s not a lot of good places to eat. We saw a good fit for the concept that we have."
"I moved there about seven or eight months ago, and there’s not a lot of good places to eat. We saw a good fit for the concept that we have."
Olsi Lito says that he fellow partner Al Scavelli all bring experiences that have helped make Crisp so successful. Developed by corporate chef Jared Estes, the menu is based on Scavelli's family recipes. Lito brought operational experience from a long career managing hotel restaurants.
Still, the partners had some lessons to learn as they grew from bars to restaurants. For example, Crisp started taking reservations and added bike racks in response to customer requests.
"One thing we do well as a company is listen to our customers and adjust very quickly," Baca says. "In the first three months, we were able to adjust to what the neighborhood wanted and cater to the neighbors. They received that very well and have been loyal customers." That customer-oriented attitude will serve the concept well in The Woodlands.
When it opens in March, the 4,600 square-foot restaurant will seat approximately 120 people inside; a 1,500 square-foot patio will seat an additional 50 people. The interior has been gutted and will feature a new look, but the partners intend for the new location to be just as family friendly as the original.
On the culinary side, Estes's menu will be mostly the same as the original location. The 14 craft beer taps will be supplemented with an eight-bottle enomatic wine system and, in a change from the original, the addition of liquor. Baca describes the liquor offerings as "a decent selection of spirits. Nothing crazy. No craft cocktails, just some good Scotches, some good vodkas — simple.
"We’ll make it a good home for the neighborhood. I’m just looking forward to it, because I live four miles away. I’m looking forward to eating all the pizza."