Craig Biggio made his way to a spot along the Walker Street-facing windows at Biggio’s, the two-story sports bar that bears his name in the recently opened Marriott Marquis hotel. After a couple of months of soft opening, the restaurant celebrated its grand opening last week by tasking its namesake with leading a media tour and breakfast.
“I like to sit back here with the people and the fans,” Biggio said. “You get a view of two of the biggest TVs. You can see what’s going on at the bar.”
A Baseball Hall of Famer who played the entirety of his 20-year career with the Astros, Biggio needs almost no introduction. He has secured his status as a Houston sports legend on the level of names like Nolan Ryan, Earl Campbell, and Hakeem Olajuwon.
“In my mind, there was only one person who symbolized the hard work, the dedication, the play hard lifestyle that is Houston, and that’s Craig,” said Steven Mitzner, vice president for the hotel’s owner RIDA Development Corporation. “With our proximity to Minute Maid, baseball as a theme made a lot of sense. Earl (Campbell) is great. I’ve met with Earl. But it just had to do with how close we are to Minute Maid.”
Mitzner added that Biggio’s has made a number of tweaks since it opened: the barstools have backs, the menu has been expanded, and TVs in the upstairs cabanas are larger. All of the memorabilia features Biggio, although plans are underway to add a piece that would include newly elected Hall of Famer Jeff Bagwell.
Biggio has his stamp on the menu, too, with a sandwich inspired by one his wife Patty makes. At home, the sandwich is typically pork tenderloin topped with lettuce, tomato, butter, and mayo on an English muffin. The restaurant version keeps the English muffin but swaps the pork for filet mignon, the butter and mayo for boursin aioli, and the veggies for crispy onions. Despite the changes, Biggio said he thought Patty would approve when she sampled it.
“An English muffin isn’t a big piece of bread. It’s a nice size,” Biggio said. “That’s why we like it. It doesn’t feel like you’re filling up on bread.”
The space works well for watching sports, too. Two screens in the main dining room, each of which measures 330 inches across, give the space a feel more reminiscent of a sports book in a Vegas casino than a sports bar or a hotel. Overall, the space has 36 TVs that allow fans to follow all the action. Taken together, it’s exceeding the Marquis’ initial revenue projections, according to food and beverage director Bernard Hamburger.
Biggio said he’s been in half a dozen times or so since the restaurant opened in December and plans to make more appearances throughout the baseball season as his schedule permits. He gets recognized immediately, of course, but that’s part of the experience.
“I love the fans,” Biggio said. “I love sitting here and talking to fans when they come up and say ‘great place’ or ‘thanks’ and a take a couple pictures. It’s fun.”
He even indulged the media in a little talk about the Astros prospects for the 2017 season. Although he declined to predict a specific outcome, he sounds optimistic about their prospects.
“I think Jeff Luhnow has done a great job adding some special players. Getting (catcher Brian) McCann, getting Carlos (Beltran) back, getting some good, older leadership,” Biggio said. “Our young kids are pretty dynamic players who are pretty good. The biggest thing for us is to stay healthy. If we do, it’ll be an exciting year.”