One of River Oaks’ most-beloved destinations for spring rolls, dumplings, and sesame chicken has big plans over the next 12 months. Cafe Ginger will both open a second location in the Galleria-area and relocate its restaurant to a new location near its current one.
In the next week or so, the Galleria-area Cafe Ginger will begin its soft opening in the former Osteria Mazzantini/OKA Sushi space next to Caracol on Post Oak Boulevard. The same family that owns Cafe Ginger owned OKA, but they opted to switch the property to the more familiar concept for “internal reasons,” according to their real estate advisor, CBRE senior vice president Eric Lestin.
“We approached the landlord, and they agreed to the concept change,” Lestin says. “Since the entity under the OKA lease would be the same, all that involved is a change of use and a change of concept.”
The opening will give the area near the Galleria its first upscale, American-style Chinese restaurant since Gigi’s Asian Bistro closed in 2014. Opening soon gives Cafe Ginger a slight head start on another new Chinese restaurant coming to the area — Michelin-starred dim sum and patisserie concept Yauatcha, which is expected to open in the Galleria’s “jewel box” building at the end of March.
As for its existing location, Cafe Ginger will relocate from the River Oaks Shopping Center down West Gray to the spaces in River Oaks Plaza previously occupied by Mama Fu’s and Verts. Although it is still in the design phase and has yet to file for permits with the City of Houston, the renovations are expected to be complete by the time the restaurant’s current lease expires at the end of February 2018.
When Weingarten Realty’s plans to build a 30-story residential tower on Cafe Ginger’s current location forced the move, the owners sought to remain as close to their existing customers as possible. The deal hinged on securing both spaces, which required Verts to give up its lease at the property.
“We had some information that Verts was closing some of their stores, Lestin says. “We made an inquiry to several landlords in the River Oaks area on behalf of Cafe Ginger and were able to put all the pieces together to make Verts happy that they could close their store and have a new tenant take over.”
Expect the menu, atmosphere, and service at both new locations to match the standards set by the popular original. After all, as Lestin notes, “if it’s not broken, you shouldn’t have to fix it.”