Celebrity chef throws in the towel on two Heights-area restaurants that lost their buzz
In what has to be an early candidate for the least surprising Houston restaurant news of 2016, Ogden Hospitality has closed Bradley's Fine Diner and Funky Chicken. The California-based company that's led by James Beard Award-winning celebrity chef Bradley Ogden has confirmed a report by the Chronicle that the restaurants have shuttered.
"We want to thank the many people who worked so hard to make Bradley’s Fine Diner and Funky Chicken inviting venues for the surrounding community to enjoy," Christopher Vestal, CEO of Ogden Hospitality Group, said in a statement after CultureMap asked for comment. "At this time we will continue to focus our efforts on Pour Society, one of our most successful openings to date, which has taken shape under a talented and locally-based culinary and operations team. We are currently working to redevelop both Heights locations into concepts suitable for such a vibrant neighborhood and will release more information when plans have been finalized."
The closures bring to an end a saga that began in 2012 when Ogden announced his plans to open multiple restaurants in Houston. Funky Chicken opened two years ago, and Fine Diner followed in April 2014. Both restaurants showed promise initially but failed to connect with diners. In May 2015, Ogden hired former Triniti chef de cuisine Greg Lowry to get them on the right track, but it appears to have been too little too late.
Pour Society, the upscale Gateway Memorial City pub that features a menu created by Lowry and chef de cuisine Matthew Lovelace with the Houston palate in mind, has opened to mixed reviews. Still, the talent in the kitchen and today's commitment by Ogden Hospitality to the project suggest that it should find its footing from a culinary standpoint soon.
When Funky Chicken debuted, Ogden planned to open 200 locations across the country, but the restaurant never grew beyond Houston. He seems to have shifted his focus to hot dogs, opening a restaurant called Bradley's Funky Franks in Menlo Park, California, last October. Bringing that concept to The Heights seems like a risky move, though, as it would be in direct competition with well-regarded restaurants Happy Fatz and Good Dog Houston.