common bond's new chapter
Houston's hottest bakery rises higher in new partnership with major local restaurant group
Houston’s Common Bond has entered a new phase in its growth. The growing group of restaurants and bakeries has partnered with Garza Management Group, the local firm behind El Bolillo Bakery and other restaurants.
Effective January 1, 2023, current Common Bond owner and CEO George Joseph will maintain that title and his majority interest in the company. Garza Management’s Andrew Miller has taken the title of chief operations officer and will oversee the company’s day-to-day operations.
Common Bond has grown substantially since Joseph became sole owner in 2019. The company now has bistro locations in Montrose, the Heights, Spring, and near the Medical Center as well as a more upscale brasserie in downtown’s Bank of America tower. In addition, it introduced Common Bond On-The-Go, a to-go oriented concept suited for drive-thru locations, that has outposts in the Heights, Garden Oaks, Spring Branch, West Houston, River Oaks, and Midtown. Two more On-The-Go locations will open this year in the Memorial City complex.
Overall, Joseph tells CultureMap that Common Bond serves more than 10,000 customers per week. While the concept remains popular, he sought out a partner who could both improve and grow the brand.
“Andrew is a restaurant guy. He’s taking over operations,” Joseph says. “That’s the crux of everything . . . Obviously, you know, we have so much competition, Bluestone, La La Land Kind Cafe. Everybody’s coming to Houston, because Houston’s such a great city.”
Joseph credits Katz Coffee founder Avi Katz with connecting him to Garza Management. Victor Garza explains the company, which he owns with his brother Joel, already has growth plans for El Bolillo — including new locations in Alief and at the former Firehouse Saloon at Highway 59 and Fountain View — and sees similar opportunities for Common Bond. That could start with parts of the Houston area it hasn’t reached such as Katy, Sugar Land, and Clear Lake before moving to Austin or Dallas.
“Common Bond is well known all over Texas,” Garza says. “We can grow this brand. The quality is amazing. We want to keep the quality of the food and even get it to a different level while still mass producing.”
Meeting that challenge of growing while maintaining, or even improving, Common Bond’s signature pastries, sandwiches, flatbreads, and other dishes, will fall to Miller. The native Houstonian brings 22 years of experience to his role as COO. One of his responsibilities will be to develop training manuals and other procedures to improve consistency.
“The chefs themselves are the final say so on when a product is good. They’re driving that,” Miller says. “I’m looking at what equipment, what process, what training material can we put in place with their teams to where [the chefs] are still driving the quality and culinary design. We’re just recreating that over again.”
Jason Gould remains in place as Common Bond’s executive savory chef. Known for his time at legendary Houston restaurant Gravitas, he’ll serve as the link between Common Bond’s present and future.
“All the chefs, all the general managers are still here,” Gould says. “We’re supporting them more and making sure they have everything they need to run the restaurants efficiently. Most of all, [help them] offer the hospitality that guests in Houston expect.”
The new partnership will allow Joseph to focus on Positive Recovery Centers, his growing group of addiction treatment facilities. He’ll also maintain a hand in Common Bond’s various charity initiatives, including its annual king cake fundraiser with food influencer Danielle Dubois (better known as the Hangry Houstonian) on behalf of local non-profit Sky High for Kids.
While Joseph may be stepping back from day to day responsibilities, he’s confident he’s left the company in good hands with Miller, Gould, and the rest of the management team.
“My wife is so happy. [Managing two companies] was a lot for me to take on,” Joseph acknowledges.