Houston may be sweltering this summer, but plenty of people are already thinking about February. With Super Bowl LI only about 200 days away, preparations are underway to ensure the city puts its best foot forward. One major component of those efforts is the Marriott Marquis, the luxurious 30-story hotel that's set to open in October.
The hotel has already announced it will be home to a sports bar affiliated with Houston Astros Hall of Famer Craig Biggio, but rumors have swirled for the past year that another restaurant in the hotel would be helmed by "a James Beard-nominated chef," as CultureMap's Marcy de Luna reported last year.
Well, the deal appears to be done, and the hotel got its chef. Hugo Ortega and Tracy Vaught, the five time James Beard Award finalist and his wife/business partner known for acclaimed restaurants Hugo's, Caracol, and Backstreet Cafe, are making plans to open a restaurant in the hotel.
Rosalina, LLC, a company owned by Vaught, has signed an agreement with the Marquis to open a restaurant called Xochi, according to a UCC Financing Statement filed with Harris County Clerk Stan Stanart that was sent to CultureMap by a reader (New blog In the Know Houston first made the connection between Vaught and Rosalina). So far, representatives for both Vaught and Ortega and the Marquis have declined CultureMap's request to comment on their plans.
"This project/announcement is going to be a group effort, and all parties involved have come to an agreement on how/when to break the news as a group," publicist Paula Murphy writes in an email.
Sadly, that means the details about the concept, such as what style of cuisine it will serve, when it will open, and how exactly to pronounce "Xochi," will have to wait for another day. Still, it's legitimately exciting to know that such a high-profile hotel has tapped an acclaimed Houston chef to give it culinary credibility.
A number of Houston chefs have attempted to find success in hotels — from Bryan Caswell pre-Reef at the Hotel Icon to Ryan Pera pre-Coltivare at 17 in the Alden (now the Sam Houston) and Jonathan Jones at the Hotel ZaZa — but Houstonians seem generally unwilling to embrace them. On the other hand, the hotel will be a destination in its own right (hello, Texas-shaped pool), and, if anyone can break the cycle, it's Vaught and Ortega.
Update: A representative for the Marquis has informed CultureMap that the hotel's opening has been pushed back to November.