A new neighborhood restaurant is coming to Boulevard Oaks this summer. Two childhood friends have teamed up to open Agnes Cafe & Provisions, an all-day, Mediterranean-inspired concept with a small retail component, in the former Tropicales space (2132 Bissonnet St.)
The project unites Molly Voorhees, president of Becks Prime and The Chocolate Bar, with Carolyn Dorros, the executive vice president of real estate development firm Wolff Companies. Voorhees tells CultureMap that her socially distanced walks through her neighborhood with friends and family sparked her interest in the space.
“I started dreaming about it. I just couldn’t let it go,” Voorhees says. “I thought it was really neat inside; it’s got great bones.”
She recruited Dorros, a fellow St. John’s graduate who describes herself as passionate about food, wine, and cooking, to help develop the menu and overall concept. Then Voorhees convinced the neighbors who encouraged her to open in the space to invest in the enterprise.
“I don’t think this would have happened without Covid,” Dorros says. “I think we were all missing good times over food and wine more than normal."
As the duo discussed ideas, they quickly settled on a Mediterranean-style menu. Inspiration comes from a number of places, including a restaurant Voorhees patronized in Palo Alto and dishes Dorros remembers from a trip to San Sebastian.
The plan calls for coffee and pastries in the morning, including scones, quiche, and a Turkish-style stuffed flatbread. Lunch will be centered around sandwiches, salads, and a kabob plate. For dinner, Agnes will switch from counter to full service, with a more upscale menu and a full selection of wine, beer, and cocktails. Think bistro fare like roasted chicken with a green olive and turmeric vinaigrette and steak with duck fat roasted potatoes.
Agnes will also utilize part of its space for retail shopping. Customers will be able to buy the components for cheese and charcuterie boards, grab-and-go items for lunch or dinner (sandwiches, pastas and sauces), snacks, hostess gifts, and more.
The owners are working with Sean Garrison and Levi Lemaster of the Garrison Design Office to get all the details right, from shelving in the retail area to creating the proper atmosphere at dinner.
“Sean is a real expert a lighting. If you’ve ever been to Nancy’s Hustle, the lighting is outstanding,” Dorros says. “He’s an expert on how to create that warm feeling at night. “
Voorhees is utilizing the Becks Prime team to help refine the concept and develop its operational procedures. The company’s expertise in delivering a consistently high quality experience will help Agnes open as smoothly as possible. Construction is already underway, and the goal is to open in late May or early June.
Becks also brings multi-unit experience. Voorhees acknowledges she’s already thinking about growing Agnes to other parts of Houston.
“I don’t see any business as a one-off. You gain traction with scale,” she says.
“I think what’s neat is this space in the neighborhood. If we could find something like that in Memorial or Tanglewood, once we got our feet on the ground, I can’t imagine we wouldn’t. Once again, I’ve got a team that can manage multiple spaces. It’s just a huge advantage.”