On this week's episode of "What's Eric Eating," John "J.T." Reed and Leslie Nguyen join CultureMap food editor Eric Sandler to discuss their two Houston restaurants: Bosscat Kitchen & Libations and newly opened BCK: Kitchen & Cocktail Adventures. As it approaches its first anniversary, Bosscat has emerged as one of the Galleria area's most popular dining and drinking destinations, and BCK's retro-styled menu has diners in The Heights buzzing.
The duo discuss the process of deciding to expand beyond Southern California to Houston, how they introduced Bosscat to Bayou City diners, why they selected The Heights for BCK, and more. Although alcohol plays such a prominent role at Bosscat that the restaurant displays over 300 whiskies from around the world in a glassed-in room, both Reed and Nguyen quit drinking several years ago. Sandler asks the business partners whether it's hard to be teetotalers and bar owners. Reed responds:
Let's put it this way, we had a lot more friends when we were drinking at our sports bar. We have a lot less friends now, but the friends we have are a lot better. Our portfolio has grown from one small sports bar to four big properties. I think that getting sober gives you a different perspective on the bar industry, but, for me, I need the itch. The itch is when you walk into our restaurant on a Friday night and the music is going, people are sipping on whiskey and telling us how great our staff is, that's probably the best high you can ever get. That has 100-percent replaced my need for alcohol, but I don't recommend it, if I'm being honest with you. It hasn't been as hard as I thought, honestly.
As for the future, Reed predicts that the Houston area could see additional locations of both Bosscat and BCK, and Nguyen says she hears regularly from other California business owners who want to follow their path. Stick around for the lightning round to hear which legendary Rockets player has become a Bosscat regular.
Prior to the interview, Sandler discusses the news of the week. His topics include the announcement that the El Segundo Swim Club is opening in the Second Ward, the closing of Galleria-area Italian restaurant Arcodoro, and Les Ba'get owners Cat Nguyen and Angie Dang's plans to relocate to Oak Forest and open Les Noo'dle in Montrose. In the restaurants of the week segment, Sandler shares his first impressions of Coral Sword, the new gaming cafe in the East End, and Night Heron, the bar-restaurant hybrid from Agricole Hospitality.