Ronnie Killen continues to expand his restaurant empire. His highly anticipated Killen’s Steakhouse concept is now open in The Woodlands at 1700 Research Forest Dr., formerly a Bob’s Steak & Chop House.
Led by Killen and co-owner and beverage director Deanna Killen, the team will execute its signature brand of relaxed hospitality and a menu anchored by world-class steaks and an award-winning wine program. The steakhouse opened on Friday, April 26.
“My real estate guy contacted me and said, ‘I think I have the perfect opportunity for you to open up a steakhouse’ and asked if I’d like to take a look at it,” Killen tells CultureMap. “Basically, as soon as it got put on the market another big restaurant group put a contract on it. Then they backed out of it, so it came available.”
In other words, the opportunity was too good to turn down. And moving into what had been a restaurant space originally made the transition decidedly easier.
Renovations have included minimal cosmetic updates, such as removing some of the dark wood paneling to lighten up the space, replacing the carpet, and hanging Western-themed artwork by G. Harvey like those at the steakhouse in Pearland.
The art of Killen
Killen selected pieces from his personal collection of art featuring oil rigs — as a nod to both The Woodlands proximity to oil and gas centers, and his own father’s 40-year career in the industry. The kitchen was already outfitted with top-of-the-line equipment, but the team installed the now-standard Killen’s additions of a barbecue pit and wood-burning grill. Wine storage was expanded to include a wine cellar and wine room. A private event space was also added.
In addition to the robust aged steak program, which features premium cuts, from USDA Prime Beef to Japanese Wagyu, the menu also includes Killen’s classics, such as chicken fried steak, crab cakes, and cherry-habanero glazed pork belly. Expect seasonal menu updates and nightly chef specials, as well as more wood-fired items and an exciting smoke program.
Killen says he’s excited to be in an area that’s growing so quickly. But he maintains he’s committed to ensuring the high standards he set at the Pearland original remain the driving force at the new restaurant.
“What I’m looking forward to the most is being consistent,” he says. “That’s the most important thing to me. [Recently] I brought back the original team from the Pearland steakhouse and said let’s go back to the basics of what we do at Killen’s Steakhouse. They’re all people who’ve worked for me for 13, 14 years. It’s like, this is what it’s all about. This is signature Killen’s stuff in The Woodlands, and everything went smooth, smooth, smooth. The Woodland beat all the other restaurants by like, $6,000 in sales. We didn’t even have our banquet room open. We were just sitting in the main dining room. It’s crazy.”
While Killen is delighted at the new spot’s early success, he wants diners to know that the things they’ve always enjoyed about the original are making the move 50 miles north. The signature sides are still there, including that famed creamed corn, mac and cheese, and broccoli-rice casserole. Killen’s sophisticated wine program will boast the same impressive selection of over 700 labels at both steakhouse locations.
“The majority of the list is made up of small producers at a modest markup,” says Deanna Killen. “There are bottles from $35 to $3,000, and all were thoughtfully selected. A lot of times, they mirror our story, the little guy jumping into a business with a lot of established players and having to stand out.”
Handcrafted cocktails, an extensive whiskey list, and local craft beers will also be available.
Killen says the experience he’s had in The Woodlands so far has been such a good one, he’s already got his eye on spots up there to open his other concepts.
“Opening Killen’s Steakhouse in The Woodlands is like setting up my roots,” he says. “The first restaurant I opened after going to culinary school was the steakhouse in Pearland. So it’s like, we’re going to put Killen’s Steakhouse up here, then we’re going to come back and start planning a burger place, a barbecue place. I’ve already got people looking for property to open up other concepts there.”
The Woodlands is currently open for dinner only, Monday through Thursday from 5 to 9 pm and Friday and Saturday from 5 to 10 pm. Expect expanded evening hours and a happy hour, featuring drink specials, and a bar menu, with favorites like sliders and brisket nachos to come soon. And Killen says he’s also planning to offer lunch service in the coming months as well.
Reservations for The Woodlands location can be made now on Open Table.