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Houston wine guru abruptly leaves major local restaurant group

Houston wine guru abruptly leaves major local restaurant group

David Keck Goodnight Hospitality
David Keck has resigned from Goodnight Hospitality. Photo by Julie Soefer

In the world of Houston restaurants, few developments qualify as truly shocking. After all, even the most storied restaurants can close, and prominent chefs can depart for new opportunities. Still, unexpected developments have the power to surprise even the most jaded observer. 

The March 4 announcement from Goodnight Hospitality ranks among those surprises. Master sommelier David Keck has resigned his partnership with the Montrose-based restaurant group and will be moving back to his home state of Vermont. Keck issued the following statement through a representative:

“I’m excited to get my hands in the dirt and work on a different side of the beverage business while continuing my own studies. I couldn’t be more proud of the Goodnight Hospitality endeavor, and am very excited for the next steps for both of us. I’m also so impressed with how the sommelier community has grown—and continues to grow—in Houston, and hope to continue that spirit of education and hospitality in a new city.”

Keck has been a prominent presence in Houston's culinary scene for almost a decade. After working at Stella Sola and Uchi, the former professional opera singer turned sommelier opened Camerata with business partner Paul Petronella in 2013. While there, he became Houston's second master sommelier in 2016. He founded Goodnight Hospitality with local businessman Peter McCarthy in 2017, eventually recruiting chef Felipe Riccio and fellow master sommelier June Rodil to join the company.

"We wish David the best with his ventures in Vermont,” McCarthy said in a statement. “He’s been part of the Goodnight Hospitality team since day one, and we’re grateful for all the contributions he made as we built this company."

Riccio and Rodil remain partners in Goodnight with owners Peter and Bailey McCarthy. They'll continue to operate Rosie Cannonball and Montrose Cheese & Wine. In April, the company will open March, an intimate tasting menu restaurant that will be a showcase for Riccio. 

The future is less certain for Goodnight Charlie's. The group states that the Montrose honky tonk was a "passion project" for Keck and that they're "evaluating the best way to move forward" with the bar and dance hall. A representative declined to elaborate on whether that evaluation might result in Goodnight Charlie's closing or changing its concept.   

Part of what make today's announcement so surprising is that Keck has long-standing personal relationships with his partners. Keck and Riccio worked together at Camerata; Rodil and Keck had been friends for almost a decade before she joined Goodnight last year

Keck's departure is only the latest turnover at Goodnight Hospitality. Rosie Cannonball's opening chef de cuisine, Adam Garcia, and opening bar manager, Stuart Humphries, are no longer with the company. Sommelier Ryan Cooper quietly left Montrose Cheese & Wine in January. The company's recent personnel additions include advance sommelier Mark Sayre, who will be March's general manager and beverage director, and veteran bartender Alex Negranza (Anvil, Better Luck Tomorrow), who will be March's bar manager.