Bellaire Food Street expands

Game-changing Chinatown dining development unveils plans for major expansion

Game-changing Chinatown dining development unveils expansion plans

Bellaire Food Street phase 2 rendering
A rendering illustrates plans for phase two. Courtesy of Bellaire Food Street
Bellaire Food Street phase 2
This office building and adjacent apartments will be demolished. Photo by Eric Sandler
Bellaire Food Street phase 2 rendering
Another look at phase two. Courtesy of Bellaire Food Street
Bellaire Food Street phase 2 rendering
Bellaire Food Street phase 2
Bellaire Food Street phase 2 rendering

A game-changing development in Chinatown will soon expand. The developer behind Bellaire Food Street will soon begin work on a second phase of the dining-focused shopping center.

Bellaire Food Street phase two will be located just east of phase one on a piece of property that’s currently home to apartments and a small office building. Slightly smaller than the original, it will house 11 new restaurants and a three-story parking garage.

Work to tear down the existing buildings could begin as early as this summer with construction to follow. If all goes according to plan, new concepts could begin opening in late 2023.

As CultureMap first reported in 2019, Bellaire Food Street was developed by Kevin Kan and his family to house first to market franchises from different Asian countries and other parts of the United States. Unlike other developments in Chinatown that may house many similar concepts near each other — just count the number of boba tea shops in any given plaza — Bellaire Food Street only has one version of any given style. That exclusivity is one factor that’s allowed all 14 of its tenants to achieve success, marketing manager Lin Teng tells CultureMap.

“What we want to do here is bring new things for the people of Houston,” she says. Imaging a conversation someone might have when choosing Bellaire Food Street over another shopping center, Feng adds, ‘’Hey, I want to go there, because they have this and that. They have a franchise that I’d have to go back to this country to try.’”

Since the project is so far away from completion, it’s too early for the developer to have signed leases with any specific tenants. Still, Kan and Feng acknowledge that they’ve heard from a number of interested parties that range from existing operators at phase one  to concepts from different Asian countries that are deciding when and where to open their first locations in America. As with phase one, finding not just the right concepts but also the right people to run them is a critical part of the evaluation process.

“We want to make sure we have all the options before we secure a spot for a certain type of food,” Feng says. “We want to bring unique food here, where it’s not everywhere. Hot pot, there’s 10 of them near here; tapioca, at least 15. [We want] something that’s a little bit different.”

For phase one, Kan and Feng focused on new-to-market franchises like cream puff bakery Beard Papa’s, Korean fried chicken restaurant Soho Chicken, and Japanese teppanyaki restaurant Pepper Lunch. With phase two, they’re more open to locally owned originals. They cite the success Popfancy, which draws so much enthusiasm for its themed events that owner Christopher Doan had to institute reservations to manage the crowds.

“We were very impressed by Chris’s ideas,” Kan says. “We choose him for his creativity over other ice cream concepts.”

Regardless of the specific tenants coming to phase two, Bellaire Food Street has achieved many of its initial goals, including diversifying Chinatown beyond its mom and pop roots. As Kan notes, nearby shopping centers have spruced up with fresh coats of paint and other improvements. Restaurants from across the country and around the world see the area as a viable option for locations. With that track record of success, Bellaire Food Street phase two is a project to watch in the years to come.