Astros Owner Talks Restaurants

Astros owner gives the inside scoop on his two new restaurants near Minute Maid Park

Astros owner gives inside scoop on new restaurants near Minute Maid

Jim Crane's Brocca Ristorante, March 2016
Astros owner Jim Crane ventures into fine Italian dining with Brocca Ristorante, located a baseball pitch from Minute Maid Park.  Courtesy rendering
Jim Crane's Il Panchina, March 2016
Il Panchina will be the casual trattoria serving breakfast, lunch and dinner.  Courtesy rendering
Astros Diamond Gala, Jan. 2016, Jim Crane, Nolan Ryan, Reggie Jackson
Astros owner Jim Crane with Nolan Ryan and Reggie Jackson at the Astros Diamond Gala in January. © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
Jim Crane Italian Restaurants, Jan. 2016
The apartment building on Texas Avenue that will house Jim Crane's two Italian restaurants. Photo by Shelby Hodge
Jim Crane's Brocca Ristorante, March 2016
Jim Crane's Il Panchina, March 2016
Astros Diamond Gala, Jan. 2016, Jim Crane, Nolan Ryan, Reggie Jackson
Jim Crane Italian Restaurants, Jan. 2016

Just as Houston Astros owner Jim Crane guaranteed investors in his baseball team that they would make money on the deal, he recently assured those partners that investing with him in a restaurant operation would be a success as well.

As yet, Crane tells CultureMap, none of his baseball partners have joined him in opening the two Italian-themed eateries situated within pitching distance of Minute Maid Park.

No worries for Crane. The uber successful businessman is confident that his partnership with the Bryan Caswell/Bill Floyd restaurant duo will be a home run. Their triumphs with Reef, El Real, Little Bigs, Bryan Caswell Catering, Jackson Street BBQ and 3rd Bar at IAH are reason enough to think positive. 

As the Astros owner notes, "There's only one good restaurant down here (Minute Maid Park area), Vic & Anthony's. And it's always full. I've been a bunch at Vic & Anthony's to try to figure this out ."

Location, location, location — Crane's two restaurants — one high end, one a trattoria — are building out at Marvy Finger's luxury apartment complex 500 Crawford at Texas.

"I've never been in the restaurant business but this should be an opportunity," Crane says, adding. "The area is changing down here, with Marvy's project, two new hotels opening up and a new 28-story apartment building going up just down the street. This area is going to be a hotspot down the road."

With that kind of optimism for the neighborhood surrounding the baseball stadium, Crane has been securing properties to insure that the quality of development remains high. He already owns the two old buildings on Texas, "south of home plate," as he describes it, properties for later development.

Build out is progressing on the two Italian themed restaurants — Brocca (Italian for pitcher) an upscale, high end eatery and Il Panchina (the bench) a trattoria serving breakfast, lunch and dinner and an exceptionally large bar to handle post-game crowds. City permitting is in the works at the moment. While no announcements have been made, Crane expects Brocca to boast "a big time chef."

Turning the restaurant operation over to Caswell (who always wears an Astros cap) was a natural, Crane says, because of Caswell's food operation in the ballpark. 

Gensler is handling design of the two restaurants which are expected to open mid- to late-summer, just as the Astros hopefully make their run for a spot in the World Series.

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