10 things to know

10 things to know in Houston food right now: Openings, closings, and a legendary loss

10 things to know in Houston food: The latest news + a legendary loss

BB Italia mixed food shot
B.B. Italia will be closed until it moves to its new home. Photo by Kirsten Gilliam
BlendIn Coffee Club Montrose interior
BlendIn Coffee Club has opened on Allen Parkway. Courtesy of BlendIn Coffee Club
White Rhino interior
White Rhino is committed to sustainability. Courtesy of White Rhino
Federal Grill Katy exterior
Federal Grill has debuted in Katy. Federal Grill - Katy/Facebook
Marian Mamma Mama Jue
Beloved Marian "Mamma" Jue has passed away due to complications due to COVID-19 at 80. Photo courtesy of ABC13
West Sandy Creek Winery wine glasses
West Sandy Creek Winery has released its 2020 wines. Photo courtesy of West Sandy Creek Winery
BB Italia mixed food shot
BlendIn Coffee Club Montrose interior
White Rhino interior
Federal Grill Katy exterior
Marian Mamma Mama Jue
West Sandy Creek Winery wine glasses

Editor’s note: Houston’s restaurant scene moves pretty fast. In order to prevent CultureMap readers from missing anything, let’s stop to look around at all the latest news to know.

Openings, closings, and coming attractions

KP’s Kitchen opened quietly last week. Led by Benjy’s veteran Kerry Pauly, the restaurant in Town & Country Village (700 Town and Country Blvd #2440) offers classic American fare in a family-friendly, fast casual environment. Menu items include market vegetables with Champagne vinaigrette, a bacon cheeseburger, and baby back ribs. KP’s Kitchen is also BYOB with a $5 corkage fee; it is open daily from 4-8:30 pm with lunch hours to follow.

BlendIn Coffee Club has opened its second location in Montrose. Known for serving single-origin coffees and its science-minded approach to brewing, the coffee shop occupies a first floor space in the former Stages Theater at 3201 Allen Parkway. Weihong Zhang, who founded BlendIn with his wife, Xuan Zhou, holds a Ph.D. in biochemistry from Kansas State University, and he brings a scientist’s approach to roasting all of BlendIn’s beans.

Memorial-area French restaurant Bistro 555 has reopened under new ownership. Brothers Sylvain and David Denis (both formerly of Le Mistral in the Energy Corridor) have teamed up with Cafe Rabelais owners Christophe and Laurence Paul to revive the restaurant, which closed at the end of January. The restaurant serves an array of French classics such as French onion soup, escargot, beef Bourguignon, and snapper Niçoise. It is open for lunch and dinner Tuesday-Saturday. 

A new bar with a focus on sustainability recently opened in the East End. Built with sustainable products including Airlite, a paint that purifies the air around it, and a reverse osmosis water system, White Rhino describes itself as a Tulum-inspired patio bar with an extensive selection of tequila, mezcal, and other spirits. General manager John Stewart (Eloise Nichols, Bludorn) has created a cocktail menu that offers twists on classics such as the French 75, Brandy Crusta, Jungle Bird, and more. It is open daily from 4 pm-2 am at 319 Milby St. 

Federal Grill’s Katy location opened last week. Like its siblings on Shepherd Dr. and in Hedwig Village, the restaurant offers an expansive menu of globally-inspired comfort food and an extensive selection of whiskey, including several single barrel selections. All told, the 9,000-square-foot restaurant will seat approximately 250 people with service daily.

Berg Hospitality announced it has plans to relocate its Italian-American restaurant B.B. Italia, and that the concept has temporarily closed before it moves to its new home. In a release, proprietor Ben Berg explains that the restaurant’s current location, formerly Carmelo’s, is simply too large for the dining requirements of a post-COVID world.

“Due to the pandemic, most offices in the Energy Corridor are still not at full capacity and companies are not planning private events,” Berg said. “Because B.B. Italia is the second largest restaurant in our company, and has more private event rooms than any of our other locations, it just wasn’t a viable business plan anymore. I am confident that we will be much more successful in the smaller space in which we plan to reopen.”

B.B. Italia’s new location will be revealed in the weeks to come. Until it reopens, diners will find many of their favorite dishes from the restaurant at the company’s Fair Food Co. ghost kitchen.

Midway BBQ in Katy will be closed after a fire ravaged its building. In a Facebook post, the restaurant thanked firefighters for their work. Until repairs are made, Midway will serve a limited menu from its market and deli at 5901 Hwy Blvd. in Katy.

Deaths

Houston’s food community mourns the passing of Marian 'Mama' Jue, who died Thursday, February 18 due to complications from COVID-19, ABC13 reports. Jue, 80, founded legendary Chinese-American restaurant China Garden with her husband in 1969. 

"My mother was a mother to everybody in Houston," Marian's daughter Carol Jue-Churchill told the TV station. "Everybody that came here. She loved to feed them."

David Oglesby, 60, a manager at The Union Kitchen in Katy, died Friday, February 19 due to complications from COVID-19. A GoFundMe has been created to help his family cover the cost of his funeral and to help his wife, Denise, and their children. 

"David Oglesby was a valued employee and more than that, a great friend to the staff and managers," Gr8 Plate Hospitality owner Paul Miller said in a statement. "I never once saw him without a smile on his face. He will be missed."

Other news and notes

West Sandy Creek Winery has released the wines created from its 2020 harvest. Located approximately 15 miles from Huntsville in the town of Richards, Texas, West Sandy Creek’s five new vintages include: Blanc du Bois, Lenoir, Old World Reserve, 2014 Bounty Land Crossings, and Portejas Blanc. Wine lovers are invited to visit the facility and retreat Thursday-Sunday. Reservations are required.