One of Houston's most acclaimed restaurants has served its last meal. Kitchen 713 closed on Sunday, October 28, chef and co-owner James Haywood tells CultureMap.
"It wasn't an easy decision, but we've come to the conclusion this is the best time to shutter," Haywood says.
The restaurant, which tagged itself as serving "global soul food," moved to a new location on Washington Avenue in December 2016 that allowed it to expand its menu and serve alcohol. Since then, the restaurant has become known for Coleman and Haywood's eclectic cuisine, which blends traditional Southern fare with a wide range of influences — everything from Vietnamese to Ethiopian. It also became known for its lively brunch and world-class fried chicken. Still, those accolades weren't enough to sustain the concept.
"We just saw an opportunity to start fresh," Haywood explains. "We’re a little burned out. We want to explore new avenues. There’s only so much we can do under the Kitchen 713 banner. We want to explore new cuisines."
Those cuisines include exploring the West African influences they demonstrated in a four-course tasting menu that they had planned to serve at the restaurant. Instead, Haywood says diners should expect to see it at pop-ups around town (Haywood promises an update on those plans once they're finalized).
This news will undoubtedly disappoint the chefs' fans, including professional critics. Eater's Bill Addison writes that the chefs "prove exceptionally adept at distilling a worldwide array of tastes and textures into dishes that leave you invigorated." His support helped Coleman and Haywood earn a James Beard Award semifinalist nomination for Best Chef: Southwest and a spot on Eater's list of Texas' 38 essential restaurants.
Haywood says and his business partner are looking forward to taking a little time off and traveling a bit. The chefs are even considering a trip to West Africa to learn more about the region’s cuisines. Those trips, and a mental break, will help inspire whatever's next for the duo.
"We’re still trying to come to that now," Haywood says. "Nothing’s solidified as far as the concept’s concerned. Definitely want to go the Heights area. We’ll see what comes up."