Although it might be hard to believe, it's been four years since Revival Market changed Houstonian's expectations for what a market and butcher shop could be. During that time, owners Ryan Pera and Morgan Weber have grown beyond the store at Heights and 11th.
First with Coltivare, the Italian-inspired restaurant that's been popular since the day it opened and has earned some national acclaim. Later this year, they'll expand their growing restaurant group with 8-Row Flint, a modern icehouse concept build around tacos and bourbon.
With Coltivare stable — and also the current holder of the unofficial title of "favorite restaurant of Houston's restaurant community" — and 8-Row still a ways off, Weber and Pera are using the opportunity to grow again by adding dinner service at Revival, which is expected to begin at the end of March or in early April.
"We feel the neighborhood has grown since we opened, and we feel the demand is there to serve dinner."
In order to provide more seating, Revival's space has been reconfigured by moving the coffee bar to the same wall as the meat and cheese cases and cutting back on dry goods. Instead of six cramped tables, Revival now seats about 40 people inside.
"We feel the neighborhood has grown since we opened, and we feel the demand is there to serve dinner," Pera tells CultureMap. "I think more and more families are moving into the Heights. There’s less and less places to eat.
"Our other restaurant Coltivare is the perfect example. We have a wait every night. We think that people will come to eat good food."
Pera isn't ready to get too specific about the menu, but it is starting to take shape. "It will be American food, as Revival has always been a reinterpretation of some classic or comfort style cuisine," Pera says. "It will definitely be more open-ended (than Coltivare). It will allow us to have some fun."
Look for sections devoted to charcuterie, snacks and shareable plates. Revival will leverage its strength in meat by serving a classic roast chicken as well as steaks from local purveyors like 44 Farms and Augustus Ranch. Vegetable dishes and salads will change seasonally, as they do at Coltivare.
"It’s how I like to cook, and how I believe people should eat. Or, at least, how I would like for people to eat, because I believe you get the best tasting food seasonally," Pera says.
Coltivare general manager Jeb Stuart is developing the wine list around mostly American labels, and Weber is building a succinct cocktail list built around classics.
As for the fun that Pera mentioned, that will come from sous chefs Andrew Vaserfirer and Marcelo Garcia, who are leading menu development in consultation with Pera and Coltivare chef de cuisine Vincent Huynh. "As someone who’s into his forties and not on the cutting edge of anything in the whole wide world, (it's good) to see these guys in their twenties and their ambitions. I know what I used to be like. I was a voracious culinary reader. I read every book and magazine that came out," Pera recalls.
Allowing young employees to take the lead is part of how Pera envisions his transition from chef to restaurateur.
"I’ll be honest. I don’t do that anymore, because I don’t have the stamina — but they do. To see the differences in their ideas versus some of my experiences, it’s fun. I like to do that. I think that’s going to be the best part of developing this menu."
Allowing young employees to take the lead is part of how Pera envisions his transition from chef to restaurateur. "Changing how I work is definitely part of my future," Pera concedes. "I want to be a good businessman, so I want to have employees who like to work here. I want to have product that we can stand behind . . .
"When you’re in a kitchen on the line, doing that is not always conceivable."
As it grows to three concepts, Revival joins restaurant groups like F.E.E.D TX (Liberty Kitchen, BRC) and Treadsack (Down House, D&T Drive Inn) in finding opportunities in the historic Houston neighborhood.
With numerous new concepts on the way, the Heights is growing to rival Montrose as Houston's top dining neighborhood.