It seems like only yesterday when Scott Tycer's refusal to sell Gravitas to his partner Jason Gould caused the foodie fight heard 'round the world (or at least 'round the Beltway). But nearly two years later, the chef has sold his concept to a new restaurant group with very little drama.
The restaurant will now be helmed by Stephen Ross, who started at Gravitas running the lounge and who is still finalizing negotiations for the purchase on behalf of his new partnership, Liquid Gold Hospitality Group. Tycer confirmed the agreement to CultureMap, but didn't give any details on his decision to sell.
Ross has been working in restaurants and live music venues in Austin for the better part of a decade, with stints as wine manager at Stephen Pyles' Star Canyon, as beverage director at the Stephen F. Austin Hotel and managing celeb-friendly bar Speakeasy.
Ross says the deal has been in the works since October, when he mentioned plans to open a concept and Tycer offered to sell. The restaurant will keep the same name and same executive chef, Fidel Flores, but will be adding a few tweaks to the menu as well as giving the space and front façade a "facelift."
"A restaurant is like a living organism, you have to feed it, nurture it," Ross says. "[After the falling out with Gould,] people just fell out of love with it. We want to focus on consistency and hospitality. Bring a positive energy, minus the ego."
Ross is planning to expand the patio at Gravitas and add a bar menu that's playful and affordable. Overall, 30 percent of the menu could be in flux.
"We want to twist some things, play with different flavors, but we're not reinventing the wheel," Ross says. "We want to keep the core things that people love and just inject some new things."
Ross and his partners say that Gravitas is the first of three concepts they plan to open in Houston. The second is a combination "gourmet sandwich grill, American craft beer garden and bourbon cocktail bar" that's planned at the corner of Houston Avenue and Crockett Street. Ross isn't ready to release the name, but says it's a "clever" take on "what bread, spirits and beer have in common." (Umm, yeast? A permanent space in my fridge?)
The lease on the location is still under negotiation, but Ross says the future design features indoor/outdoor space with garage doors, decks in the front and back, a bocce court and possibly lawn bowling.
"We wanted a place for young attorneys and businessmen, something that wasn't stuffy but offered nice quality," Ross says. As for the third concept in the planning stages, Ross is remaining mum — for now.
Are you surprised by the Gravitas sale? (And did you fall out of love with it after Gould's departure?) Would you hang out at a bar called Yeast*?
*Probably not the actual name.