Two hospitality industry veterans are joining forces to bring something new to Garden Oaks. Juan Carlos Rubiralta (Levure Bakery in Tomball) and Mazen Baltagi (Christian's Tailgate, gastropub Chapman & Kirby) are teaming up to open Slowpokes.
Identified by Swamplot as a former AA meeting space, Slowpokes will be located just outside the Loop on 34th Street between Ella and Shepherd, which will add to the growth that Garden Oaks has experienced in the last year with newcomers like Gatlin's BBQ and the imminent arrival of Houston's fourth location of The Union Kitchen.
"Garden Oaks feels a bit underserved," Rubiralta tells CultureMap. "Mazen and I have been driving around it for 16 months. There was a tenant there before, but we hounded the landlord about keeping us in mind if that tenant ever left. About eight weeks ago, we saw them moving out and quickly jumped on it."
Plans for Slowpokes have been submitted to the City of Houston, and Rubiralta thinks they'll be open by late April or early May. The space will feature a 2,000 square foot patio that will both serve as a prime venue for sipping coffee, beer, or wine and allow Slowpokes to host food trucks.
Although Levure has quickly established a reputation for its repertoire of classic French pastries, Rubiralta emphasizes that Slowpokes will have a different approach. Rather than commit to the resources of making every item from scratch, Slowpokes will have a small menu of house-made dishes as well as pastries and other items sourced from high-quality local vendors. The owners are currently identifying those partners now, and Rubiralta adds that they'll only select people who meet the same standards he and his family have established at Levure.