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Wrestling up a new restaurant: Vida steps in for Vivo, promising sexy, adults-only Tex-Mex

The circular central lounge at Vida, pre-chandelier Photo by Sarah Rufca
The sparkly bar is situated immediately inside the front door (so you know what's important) Photo by Sarah Rufca

Austin's Vivo may be a no-go in River Oaks (at least for now) but Tex-Mex is still on the way to the San Felipe strip.

The redubbed Vida Mexican Restaurant, which is on track to debut in July, is by the remaining partners behind the Houston Vivo at San Felipe project: Trey Melcher, his mother Yvonne Melcher (who owns the retail strip, Melcher Crossing, where Vida is) and his father Magic Schwarz, with his brother Cody Melcher chipping in as well.

The Melchers are bringing experience in business (Yvonne's father, LeRoy Melcher, created the UtoteM chain of nearly 1,000 convenience stores before selling to Circle K in 1983, among other projects) and entertainment (Magic Schwarz worked as a wrestler and Hollywood stuntman, and claims to be the basis for his friend Mickey Rourke's character in The Wrestler). They have brought in Hugo's alum Isidro Neri as general manager.

So no matter what, you can expect things to be interesting.

Behind the ornate wooden front door, Vida strives to create a Tex-Mex crossover between dining and nightlife. The large bar area sits right up front, and a raised central lounge with an exuberant chandelier can be either curtained off for private parties or open for mingling.

The dark tones, mood lighting and artsy skin pics on the walls should evoke The Red Room, another concept Trey Melcher was involved in. Melcher says the restaurant will open at lunchtime (to serve the neighboring business folk) and the kitchen will remain open until 2 a.m. some nights, with plans to bring in DJs and other entertainment.

As for the food, Neri says the menu will feature the classics alongside lighter dishes, as well as plenty of margaritas. One thing Vida will not have is a kid's menu — the restaurant is for adults only.

"You aren't going to bring your little league team here," Yvonne Melcher says. "Some people aren't going to like that if they want to come in with their kids, but there are plenty of family restaurants around."

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