Another Houston restaurant has plans to expand in 2016. Beaver's, the eight-year-old Washington Ave restaurant known for serving Texas comfort food and top-notch cocktails, will open a second location on Westheimer west of The Galleria.
Beaver's owner Jon Deal tells CultureMap that he and his partners, including Sparrow Bar + Cookshop chef/owner Monica Pope, have spent two years looking for a second location. After considering the Rice Village space that ultimately became Punk's Simple Southern Food and options in Sugar Land, they settled on the former Texadelphia near Deal's Tex-Mex institution El Patio.
"Literally, when we walked in to the space, we all looked at each other. This feels like Beaver’s. Wood floors, similar ceilings," Deal says.
The new location's expanded footprint has space for a private dining room and a courtyard that will feature games, Cottonwood-style. Deal will also take a page from El Patio's playbook by adding a lounge space called the Beaver Den that will be similar to the classic Club No Minors.
"We’re still in the process of working on what the Beaver Den feels like and looks like," Deal says. "We’ll have an area separate from the dining room that will be more loungy. Maybe at nighttime it is adults only."
Noting the success that recent openings like Bramble have found in the area, Deal thinks the neighborhood wants more creative restaurants that are also family-friendly. The expansive courtyard will certainly play a big part in creating that atmosphere.
"There’s not a lot to choose from and certainly not the opportunities for a chef-driven restaurants that you might get inside the Loop," Deal says. We’ve got a strong and loyal and deep customer base from Memorial and Tanglewood and Briargrove. Our intent is to feed off that same group."
Looking over the restaurant's menu that mixes barbecue, Tex-Mex, and Southern classics, it's hard not to note the similarities between trendy spots like State of Grace, Bernadine's, and Southern Goods that also draw from Texas's diverse culinary traditions. Beaver's certainly helped blaze a trail by making comfort food with quality ingredients and an eye on seasonality.
"Lots of people have followed in our footsteps and copied what we’ve done," Deal says. "Punk’s feels a lot like that, and maybe it’s because we were look at that location is why I have that opinion."
At the new location, executive chef Dusty Sagaser will have both a larger kitchen and smoker that will allow him to expand the offerings a bit. "I don’t want to say higher end, but maybe bring in some more wild game, nicer cuts of wild game," Sagaser says. "Probably more seafood. We’d played around with the idea of a smoked seafood tower."
Although Pope hasn't been directly involved with the restaurant for several years, Sagaser says he still meets with her monthly about dish ideas. "Any new thing I have I bounce it off her to see if she has a different direction to go in. She has a lot more experience than me, so I try to pick her brain when I can," he says. Deal offers his own opinion on the relationship between the two chefs.
"Dusty likes to stay behind the scenes, but the bottom line is it’s his food and his menu," Deal says. "He leans on Monica when or if he needs to. My opinion of that would be that Dusty can stand on his own two feet."
Just as the food will be similar, so too will the cocktails. Bobby Heugel worked at the original Beaver's just before he opened Anvil, and the restaurant has followed that tradition by being home to talents like Ryan Rouse, Claire Sprouse and, most recently, Michael Riojas, who left to help open Goode Co's expanded Armadillo Palace.
Deal expects to submit plans to the City of Houston next week. If all goes according to plan, the new Beaver's will open in early summer. Just in time to eat some smoky queso while sipping a frozen cocktail and playing cornhole in the courtyard.