Rumor No More
Celebrity chef Jonathan Waxman brewing up all-day cafe in Houston's new 2-story H-E-B
Four prominent New York chefs are opening a coffee shop in Bellaire’s brand new H-E-B. The Roastery unites Jonathan Waxman, Jimmy Bradley, Joey Campanaro, and Jason Giagrande — bringing over 100 years of collective kitchen experience to a group that refers to themselves as “The Four J’s.”
Job postings for the Roastery describe it as “a new quick-service café with a strong coffee program, local coffee roasting operation and a chef-driven menu.” The cafe will use beans roasted by Four J Foods, a company the chefs created that sells sauces, coffee, and tea at H-E-B. Four J touts that it sources all of its coffees from specific farms, which should help ensure the same level of quality from bean to cup that diners find at coffee shops like Blacksmith, Catalina Coffee, and Southside Espresso that are directly affiliated with a local roaster.
The Roastery is located inside the H-E-B but has a separate entrance that's adjacent to the store's. A TABC poster in the window indicates that the cafe has applied for its own beer and wine license. Judging a restaurant's readiness by peeking in the windows is an inexact science, but the build-out looks to be complete.
Neither The Roastery nor H-E-B have responded to CultureMap’s request for comment about the timing of the opening, but an employee mentioned they're targeting the middle of October. A CultureMap reader discovered a since-deleted webpage that offered a draft version of the menu (see screen shot above). The all-day cafe will likely serve a variety of pastries, breakfast items (avocado toast, quiche), sandwiches, salads, and maybe even bone broth.
Turning to the owners, Waxman constitutes the group’s most prominent name. In the ’80s, his restaurant Jams bought California cuisine to New York City. The chef also won a James Beard Award for Best Chef: New York in 2016 and has appeared on two seasons of Top Chef Masters. His roast chicken is legendary.
Waxman's partners in Four J are less prominent but still very accomplished. Bradley is known for The Red Cat, an almost 20-year-old Mediterranean-influenced restaurant in New York’s Chelsea neighborhood. Campanaro own three establishments, including The Little Owl, an Italian-inspired restaurant in the West Village. Giagrande serves as the company’s CEO; he’s held a variety of roles throughout his career, including serving as the vice president of food service operations for the Starbucks outlets at Barnes & Nobles bookstores.
In scientific terms, that’s an epic shit-ton of culinary talent for any restaurant, particularly a cafe in a grocery store. Hopefully, H-E-B will provide some more information soon. Some secrets are too good to keep.