Richard Knight Departs

Popular Heights restaurant undergoes major change as prominent chef departs

Popular Heights restaurant undergoes major change as chef departs

Graham Laborde Richard Knight
Graham Laborde, left, will replace Richard Knight, right, at Hunky Dory. Image courtesy of Bernadine's

One of The Heights’ most high-profile restaurants is about to undergo a major change. Chef Richard Knight and Hunky Dory are parting ways, the Treadsack restaurant group announced Friday.

Knight will remain in the kitchen through February 5. Recently married, Knight and his wife Carrie Jean Knight are planning a future project together, according to a statement from Treadsack.

“I’ve had a wonderful experience putting together this restaurant—from the Kipper Club dinners, charity dinners, and loads of other fun stuff along the way,” said Knight. “It’s been great, but it's time for me to move on.”

In his place, Graham Laborde, executive chef of Hunky Dory’s sister restaurant Bernadine’s, will assume a role as culinary director for both restaurants. Laborde expects to roll out a new menu in mid to late-February.

“I’m excited to take on the challenge of running two strong kitchens here in the Heights,” said Laborde. Later adding, “Richard has left some big shoes to fill, but he has a great team and a fantastic menu. We’ll do our best to make him proud. I can’t wait to see what he does next."

Knight joined Hunky Dory shortly after closing his acclaimed restaurant Feast. Although construction delays pushed the original opening date from fall 2014 to fall 2015, Knight remained with the restaurant. His menu that mixed British pub classics like fish and chips and a hamburger with English dishes like savory pies filled with fish or rabbit earned raves from critics and diners alike.

Over the past few weeks, Treadsack has suffered some difficulties. The company closed Foreign Correspondents, its farm-to-table Thai restaurant, and Canard, a cocktail bar, in December. The Houston Press reported the company had suffered financial problems, including federal and state liens due to non-payment of taxes. 

Treadsack co-owner Chris Cusack tells CultureMap that Knight's departure is unrelated to these issues. "Even before FC closed, we’ve been talking about this for weeks. It has more to do with his marriage and the potential project he and Carrie want to do together," Cusack says.

While Hunky Dory has a couple of Super Bowl-related buy outs next weekend, the restaurant's fans have a few days to get one last taste of Knight's cooking. After that, Laborde will begin putting his stamp on the menu.

"All I’ve been doing is imagining what that will be like under the steaks, wine, and whisky ideal," Cusack says. "I think he’ll have a lot of fun making great use of the hearth and building on Richard’s foundation to continue the attitude of the restaurant."

Laborde, a CultureMap Tastemaker Awards Rising Star Chef of the Year winner, is certainly talented enough to make the new arrangement work. As long as staple dishes like Hunky Dory's acclaimed burger and fish and chips remain on the menu, diners should be intrigued enough to give the restaurant a new look.