Over the course of the last year, Gateway Memorial City has emerged as one of west Houston's most intriguing dining destinations. Sushi restaurant Kuu, luxurious steakhouse Vallone's and an outpost of popular South American restaurant Churrascos have all attracted diners, but they're all at the higher-end of the dining spectrum.
Now it looks as though a lower-priced, more casual option is set to join them.
Colorado-based chain Garbanzo Mediterranean Grill revealed on Facebook that it will open its first Houston-area location in the space immediately next to Kuu. Set to open in late February or early March, the company has partnered with local franchisee Ella Bean to operate the Houston locations, according to QSR Magazine. Ella Bean co-owner Tyson Shields tells CultureMap that he's been looking into "venturing into the restaurant world" for some time and selected Garbanzo's because of its healthy menu
"I eat out a lot, and there's not a whole lot of healthy options, especially that are fast casual."
"It's part of a growing trend of more fast casual, healthy restaurants," he says. "I eat out a lot, and there's not a whole lot of healthy options, especially that are fast casual."
Shields describes Garbanzo as a "Mediterranean version of Chipotle." Diners go down a line, where they select from wraps, pitas or plates, choose a protein and add vegetables. The options include falafel, which makes Garbanzo vegetarian friendly. Most of the items are gluten free, too.
As for the decision to open first in Gateway, Shields cites his existing relationship with the center's owner MetroNational. His company owns both a Pandora and a Hallmark store across the street in Memorial City Mall. "We wanted a premier, high-traffic spot," he explains.
Ella Bean purchased the rights to Garbanzo for the entire Houston area, including suburbs like Sugar Land and The Woodlands. Shields says he's currently negotiating with The Woodlands on a planned second Houston area location.