Bobby Heugel and Justin Yu have revealed details about their plans for the former Southern Goods space on 19th Street in the Heights. The new restaurant is called Squable and is slated to open later this spring, the duo announced.
In addition to its high-profile owners — Yu is the James Beard-award winning chef-owner of Theodore Rex and Heugel is the owner and co-founder of Anvil Bar & Refuge — Squable will pack a lot of food and beverage talent into its kitchen and bar.
The restaurant will feature the culinary talents of two chef partners: Mark Clayton, a veteran line cook who worked for Yu at Oxheart, and Drew Gimma, the talented baker who helped open Common Bond and currently works for Yu and Heugel at Better Luck Tomorrow. Terry Williams, the one-time Tastemaker Bartender of the Year winner who oversees operations for Anvil and Better Luck Tomorrow, will serve as the restaurant's general manager and be a partner in the business. BLT' bartender Anna Wilkins (Julep, Eight Row Flint) will move to Squable and serve as head bartender.
“Justin and I are very excited about everyone involved taking a big next step with our careers through this restaurant as we get to fill the role of restauranteur by supporting three of the most talented professionals we’ve ever worked with," Heugel said in a statement.
“Mark and Drew have all the talent in the world, but the way they approach food is very pure and without an agenda," added Yu. "To enjoy their food, you don’t need to be a world traveler or in touch with the chef world, you just have to enjoy good food, good drink and good company.”
Like Better Luck Tomorrow, the bar they opened in 2017 that earned best new restaurant honors from both Food & Wine and Bon Appetit, Squable's name is a bit of a joke: a reference to a playful argument (properly spelled "squabble") as well as, in Heugel's words, "a blatantly dorky food reference." The setting will feature signature touches that combine their experiences, including Theodore Rex's integrated silverware drawers and Anvil's brass bar top. Expect dinner six days a week followed by brunch.
Turning to the food, the partners describe Squable as a neighborhood restaurant that serves a menu of European-style dishes with American touches and Texas ingredients. Expect dishes like handmade pasta with butter-braised onions, pork neck schnitzel, smoked grouper with pumpkins seeds, and tagliata steak with Texas olive oil and arugula. A patio menu will focus on oysters and other shellfish that customers can snack on before they have a table.
“My background has taught me to be resourceful and, most importantly, humble," Clayton said. "I don’t think anything can prepare you for opening your first restaurant, but I know it is time for me to do so.”
In addition to working with Clayton on the savory menu, Gimma will utilize his experience to lead the restaurant's pastry and bread program with offerings that include a Dutch baby pancake with fresh cheese, black pepper, and honey, as well as a caramelized pain di mie with maple and cream that will serve as a dessert option. He will also create a range of rotating seasonal breads.
As for the bar, Williams and Wilkins plan to focus on classic cocktails, especially martinis and drinks that diners can sip on the patio while they wait for a table. Once seating, they expect patrons to opt for one of the 60 or so wines selected by sommelier Justin Vann, the same mind behind the wine lists at Public Services, Theodore Rex, and BLT. While the natural wines trend will be represented among the offerings, Squable's list will also provide plenty of "classics that are classics for a reason."
Taken together, it looks like the celebrated duo are evolving. Having spent the past few years building a team of talented individuals to help run their various projects, the time has come to turn them loose on a more ambitious endeavor. Whatever the results, the competition for the best new restaurant of 2019 will certainly include 19th Street.