As it prepares to celebrate its seventh anniversary on Black Friday, local Cajun chain BB's Cafe isn't looking to rest on its laurels. Having successfully opened outside the Loop with a restaurant in Briar Grove, owner Brooks Bassler is looking even farther west in 2015 — to Katy. As for the original location in Montrose, Bassler reveals it will be moving to 24 hour operations.
"At the end of the day, we’re giving that location what we feel it deserves, and that’s a little more love," Bassler says of the Montrose location. "It’s been a pretty good deal for us. It got us started, got the name out there. Just an awesome neighborhood that people are dying to get into."
"It will have a more hand-crafted approach to the menu and really strive to be one of the leaders in the city for 24 hour dining."
BB's 24, as Bassler is tentatively calling it, will feature 14 breakfast items as part of a 50 item menu. Additions include fresh baked buttermilk biscuits and, in a first for the concept, hamburgers and hand-cut fries. If all goes according to plan, it could begin as soon as New Year's Eve.
"Obviously, we’re remaining true to BB’s, but it will have a more hand-crafted approach to the menu and really strive to be one of the leaders in the city for 24 hour dining," Bassler says. "Although there are some good options, I still feel like, for being one of the biggest cities in the country, they could be better."
In addition to his belief in the concept, Bassler made the decision because, in terms of staffing, the Montrose location is only about 50 hours a week from already being a 24 hour operation. "From a sheer business standpoint, if we can increase our revenue by 30-percent, which is what I think we’re going to do, and our fixed costs remain the same and our controllable labor costs only go up a little bit, it’s a no brainer. It’s just economics," he says.
As for the Katy location, it follows the formula the company has developed with its other four locations of finding a closed restaurant space in a good area. In this case, a spot on the Grand Parkway about an eighth of a mile from the newly opened Costco that's been home to two other Cajun restaurants: Swampy's Cajun Shack and Katy Cajun. "The third time's a charm," Bassler says with a laugh.
The company signed a lease on the space in September and hopes to be open in February — in time for the start of crawfish season. In addition to the usual cosmetic changes, the Katy location will feature BB's first ever children's play area.
"I feel like the concept is going to be well-received . . . . Of our 20,000 Facebook followers, about 3,900 are in Katy," Bassler says. "I think it has the potential to be a really high performing store for us."
In addition to the expansion, Bassler has also made changes to the menu in the wake of a dressing down by Chronicle critic Alison Cook. "That was a time where she kinda caught us with our pants down," Bassler concedes. "Most of the things she brought up I completely agreed with . . . . We took it on the chin and used it as constructive criticism and really did improve from a lot of her findings."
Bassler says BB's changed the way it prepares its campechana and seafood enchiladas as a result of the review. "Our fried shrimp, she was right on about that, they were a little small. We increased the size a little bit."
On a more positive note, he's optimistic about an early start to crawfish season. "Temps are a little higher than they were at this time last year. Farmers are bullish on it right now," Bassler says. "We’re keeping our fingers crossed for mid-February."
Whether someone is eating crawfish in Katy, or at 3 a.m. in Montrose, that's certainly good news.