down and out

Pioneering Heights restaurant and brunch hot spot shutters after 10-year run

Heights restaurant and brunch hot spot shutters after 10-year run

Down House interior
Down House has closed.  Photo by Kirsten Gilliam

A pioneering Heights restaurant has served its last meal. Down House closed after service on Sunday, February 21, the restaurant announced on social media.

In the post, proprietor Chris Cusack thanked the restaurant’s staff for their hard work throughout the restaurant’s 10-year run and encouraged customers to post their favorite memories. Hundreds have responded on both Instagram and Facebook.

Cusack tells CultureMap the restaurant closed due to a decline in business brought about by the coronavirus pandemic. “The reality is it just didn’t work anymore in these circumstances,” he says.

Opened in the spring of 2011, Down House became a hit by combining many trends that had begun to emerge in Houston’s dining scene. It offered specialty coffees in the morning, cocktails and craft beer in the evenings, and utilized locally sourced ingredients in signature dishes like its Lone Star Burger and chicken and waffles. Originally opened as a breakfast and lunch concept, it quickly emerged as a brunch favorite at a time before The Heights had become one of Houston’s hottest dining neighborhoods.

That reputation for serving a great brunch got a boost in 2016 when then Vice President Joe Biden and his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, dined at the restaurant while visiting Houston for the Final Four (both of their alma maters competed in the tournament). The couple dined on waffles and shrimp and grits and posed for pictures with patrons while the Secret Service kept a watchful eye on the property.

The restaurant even had a viral moment when a manager ejected a patron for tweeting a mild insult about a member of the staff while she was dining. Yes, Twitter was a much more benign place in 2011.

Cusack says he had the opportunity to speak with some of the restaurant’s former staff before announcing the closure publicly. They shared memories that allowed him to focus on positive experiences.

“It was a really good run,” Cusack adds. “10 years, so many places close before that. I think we got to have a great time and make an impact on The Heights.”