Bar Beat

Owner of shuttered wine bar hatches big plans for new neighborhood gathering spot

Owner of shuttered wine bar hatches plans for new neighborhood spot

Lillo and Ella patio
Lillo & Ella's patio will have a new look when it reopens as The Barking Pig Courtesy photo

For a relatively small space, the building at 2307 Ella has seen a lot of change over the past few years. Southern/French restaurant Heights West quickly gave way to tequila and tacos bar El Gran Malo. Right when EGM seemed established as a popular destination, Roost chef/owner Kevin Naderi acquired the property for his Asian street food restaurant Lillo & Ella.

Now that's gone, too, but, Kristen Powell, the property's new owner, seems poised to provide the residents of Lazybrook, Timbergrove and Shady Acres with something a little more permanent.

Patrons may recognize Powell's name from her time as the owner of Simone on Sunset in Rice Village. When she suddenly found herself locked out by her landlord in a rent dispute, Powell and her mother began looking for a new property (it has since reopened under new management). Powell tells CultureMap she recognized the opportunity as soon as she found the building for sale. 

"I’ve always wanted to own my own property, so I don’t have any issues. It’s also a great investment," she says. "There’s great parking. Two patios. It’s kind of a blank slate where you can change things up but still have that Heights feel." 

The Barking Pig

Taking a name from a story about a boy who dreamed big and did his own thing, Powell is calling her new business The Barking Pig

"It’s got a great definition on Urban Dictionary about how someone wants to build their own life and go against the grain. I kind of feel like that’s who I am. It really hit home with me," she says.

Powell hopes to open as soon as she receives her liquor license from TABC, which could be as soon as the end of October. Her plans for the space include new paint for the interior and landscaping on the patio that will include a water feature and more lighting. Unlike adults-only Simone, Powell wants The Barking Pig to be family friendly. "If you want to bring your kids and sit on the patio and watch football, you can do that."

The food menu is still under development, but Powell says she's working on a short list of small and medium plates. Of course, the bar will bring back her popular weekly specials like burger night, steak night and taco night. Whatever The Barking Pig becomes, she's sure she's found the right spot.

"I didn’t want to pull the trigger on just anything," Powell explains. "When this came up, when we were told about this property, we fell in love."