Goodnight Hospitality has just added a major dose of food and beverage talent. The emerging restaurant group has named the key staff members for its two August openings: Montrose Cheese & Wine, a retail shop with a wine tasting bar, and Rosie Cannonball, a casual restaurant powered by a wood-burning oven and grill.
These six key individuals are drawn from both the partners' personal history working in Houston and Austin as well as national-level talents who bring value experience to their roles. Just as master sommeliers June Rodil and David Keck have been recognized nationally for their work, these people are poised to help Goodnight's new projects stand out in Houston's competitive dining landscape. They are: executive pastry chef Shawn Gawle; Rosie Cannonball chef de cuisine Adam Garcia; Rosie Cannonball service manager Rachael Pino; Montrose Cheese & Wine wine director Ryan Cooper; Montrose Cheese & Wine cheesemonger and general manager Shannon McCracken; and Rosie Cannonball bar director Stuart Humphries.
"Goodnight Hospitality is about providing a place for people to practice their passion and skills on the daily and is also a place to learn from other talented individuals so we can all be stronger and better together," partner June Rodil said in a statement. "Our team is small and mighty and ready to take on the huge task of opening multiple restaurants. They're doing it with fervor and grace, and I can’t imagine a team representing the vision of Goodnight Hospitality any better."
Anyone with a sweet tooth should be excited about the hiring of Shawn Gawle to be the company's pastry chef. A veteran of three restaurants that each received three Michelin stars — L20 in Chicago, Saison in San Francisco, and Quince, also in San Francisco — Gawle plans to utilize ingredients grown at Goodnight's Farm in Bellville to create pastries, gelato, and other sweets.
At Montrose Cheese & Wine, Gawle will serve five or six dishes, including some that will be available to-go. At Rosie Cannonball, he's working on both sweet and savory options, including a Spanish-style cheesecake and his take on a Focaccia di Recco, a flatbread from the town of Recco made with fresh cheese that he tops with mortadella.
“When I was working at Quince, Michael Tusk came back from Spain and showed me a picture of a Basque cheesecake from La Viña in San Sebastian," Gawle said. "I tested out a recipe, but it never made it on a menu at Cotogna or Quince . . . It’s really fun to revisit a dish and find a home for it.”
Adam Garcia has worked locally at some of Houston's best restaurants, including The Pass & Provisions, Revival Market, and Coltivare. Time spent staging in both Europe and America inspired Rosie Cannonball's menu, which will draw on Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese influences. Look for Basque dishes such as pil pil sauce and grilled oyster mushrooms with egg yolk and preserved lemon.
"I ate [grilled oyster mushrooms] almost every day when I was in Spain," Garcia said. "It’s so simple and the most delicious combination of flavors. I’ve spent months working on it, but I’ve finally figured out my version of the dish, and I can’t wait to introduce it to Houston.”
Joining Garcia at Rosie Cannonball, Rachael Pino will draw upon her experience at Eleven Madison Park — the acclaimed New York City restaurant that holds three Michelin stars, multiple James Beard Award, and once topped the World's 50 Best Restaurants list. More recently, she worked with Rodil at Austin's McGuire Moorman Hospitality as a reservations manager.
Ryan Cooper worked with Keck at both Uchi and Camerata before spending a couple years at Del Frisco's in both Houston and Denver. In his role as wine director, he's created a list of 125 wines that includes a number of solid choices priced at $40 or less per bottle.
Shannon McCracken has worked in the kitchen at both Just Dinner and Boomtown Coffee; she also rose through the ranks at local cheesemonger Houston Dairymaids to become the catering and events manager. As the cheesemonger for Montrose Cheese & Wine, she'll feature 12 to 15 cheeses that rotate seasonally based on availability as well as more familiar cheeses like mozzarella and parmesan.
Finally, many diners will recognize bar director Stuart Humphries from his time at Hay Merchant, The Pass & Provisions, and, most recently, Tongue-cut Sparrow; he's also been a finalist for bartender of the year in the CultureMap Tastemaker Awards. Like Gawle, he plans to utilize Goodnight's Farm to source ingredients for both classic and original cocktails.
"There’s so much mint at the farm, so many herbs," Humphries said. "Plus, if there is something I want the farmer to grow, we discuss it. Most bars don’t have access to their own farm."
Of course, those aren't the only concepts Goodnight will bring to fruition this year. At some point, the company will open March, the ultra-sophisticated fine dining restaurant that draws on chef-partner Felipe Riccio's work at some of Europe's best restaurants as well as Keck and Rodil's extensive knowledge of wine. Expect more staffing announcements about that restaurant some time in the coming months.