The Rice Village location of Hopdoddy Burger Bar is almost ready to make its debut. Before the staff gets a couple days of practice during invite-only previews Friday and Saturday, the restaurant provided CultureMap with an exclusive sneak peek inside the new space that will open to the public Monday morning at 11 am.
Since it opened in River Oaks District on Memorial Day last year, Houstonians have greeted the Austin-based fancy burger concept with open arms, eagerly lining up for the restaurant’s extensive menu of burgers, fries, and drinks. A third Houston-area location will open later this spring in Vintage Park, and the company is scouting for more spots.
“(Houstonians) have just welcomed us with open arms,” Hopdoddy director of training Kelly McCutcheon tells CultureMap. “I think it’s why we’re so quick to put in this second location. We have really felt the outreach from the local community to the team members to the charities we’ve partnered with.”
The River Oaks District location set a company record for opening volume, with waits on opening day spiking to a reported three hours. Given the new location’s proximity to Rice University and the Texas Medical Center, the restaurant is bracing for a similar frenzy on Monday.
“Especially for openings, there’s this feeling of excitement. We want to make sure our managers and our team is focused on the line,” McCutcheon says. “The line moves quickly. We’re fortunate in that regard, but sometimes a guest can wait longer in line than they sit at their table. We need to make sure that experience is just as good, if not even better. “
In order to achieve that goal, the restaurant serves samples and allows patrons to buy drinks while they wait. Of course, going at off-peak times remains the most reliable way to get in and out quickly. Those who come during happy (Monday through Friday from 3 until 6:30 pm) may take advantage of $5 drafts, glasses of wine, cocktails, and fries — including the signature green chile queso.
Critically, the new location is slightly larger than the one in River Oaks District, with more bar seating and a better flow for channeling Hopdoddy’s famous line. The restaurant will offer outdoor seating on a patio that looks towards Morningside Plaza, a pedestrian-friendly space created from an area of parking spots in front of the restaurant and its neighbors, Nao Ramen and D’Amico’s Italian Market Cafe. Construction fencing around the project has hurt business at both of the existing restaurants, but it’s expected to open in the next few days.
Although the menu is largely the same across all locations, Rice Village will be the first in the company to introduce the Hoss’ Hot Chicken, a fried hot chicken breast atop house-made baby kale slaw. Also, each location’s general manager makes the beer selections, which means the tap wall includes favorites like 512 and Saint Arnold as well as newcomers like Holler Brewing Co. and Running Walker Brewery.
Hopdoddy Rice Village, 5510 Morningside Drive, Ste 100