Fred Sharifi announced Tuesday that the new location of Hungry's will open next month. Over two years in the making, the two-story location triples the size of the 40-year old original to 12,000 square feet.
"Rice Village has been our home for over four decades and we wanted to enhance the neighborhood with a spacious, attractive and comfortable 'third' place to serve the community," Sharifi said in a statement. "We hope the expanded Hungry’s will improve the lifestyle of our neighbors by providing a place where they can relax, unwind, dine, celebrate special events and enjoy quality time with family and friends over healthy meals."
The expanded footprint offers room for a number of additions. The most important is "Upstairs," a new bar and lounge on the second floor that overlooks the oak trees on the property. In addition, the space features two patios and private rooms both upstairs and downstairs that will be capable of hosting special events. The current restaurant, located next door, will be torn down to provide some much needed parking.
Architect Jim Herd of Collaborative Projects (Underbelly, Morningstar, Bernie's Burger Bus) handled the design, which takes its inspiration from the architecture of neighboring Rice University and Christ the King Lutheran Church. Local firm Schooley Design handled the interiors, exterior dining areas, and all the finishing touches.
"The new Hungry’s environment in Rice Village offers a classic yet modern experience we think will prove rather timeless," said architect Palmer Schooley. "Hungry’s is known for its warm welcome, comforting food and family friendliness, all of which are evoked and reinforced throughout the space. At the same time, a new, modern energy makes it a very special hangout."
To continue that legacy, Sharifi has tapped his nephew Ashkan Nowamooz and his wife Sue. She will serve as the executive chef responsible for continuing's the restaurant's legacy of serving a crowd-pleasing, affordably-priced, comfort food-oriented menu. The partially-open kitchen gives diners a view of the restaurant's pizza oven, and a new express lunch option should help Rice professors get to class on time.
Upstairs will feature a unique menu of bar bites, as well as cask wines, craft beer, and house cocktails. In contrast to the family-friendly environment in the dining room, the look is more sophisticated to appeal to young professionals
Hungry's will take a phased approach to rolling out the new spaces. Soft opening for the downstairs restaurant begins in the next week or two, with the bar to follow. If all goes according to plan, the entire space should celebrate its grand opening at the end of October.