welcome to nopo

Houston's hottest restaurateur delivers all-day cafe to emerging new 'hood

Houston's hottest restaurateur delivers all-day cafe to new 'hood

Ben Berg Hospitality
Berg Hospitality owner Ben Berg. Photo by Leah Wilson
Jose Hernandez Berg Hospitality
Chef Jose Hernandez is Berg's new culinary director. Photo by Daniel Ortiz
Sean Mohammed Berg Hospitality
Sean Mohammed, Berg's vice president of concept development. Photo by Daniel Ortiz
NoPo Cafe Market Bar signage rendering
NoPo Cafe, Market & Bar will open in May. Courtesy of Berg Hospitality
Ben Berg Hospitality
Jose Hernandez Berg Hospitality
Sean Mohammed Berg Hospitality
NoPo Cafe Market Bar signage rendering

“No, we’re not done. We’re not done at all.”

Opening three restaurants in one year would seem like enough for any hospitality company, but Ben Berg has even bigger plans for 2021. The owner of Berg Hospitality — known for B&B Butchers, The Annie Café, and others — announced he will open NoPo Café, Market & Bar near his corporate office at 1244 North Post Oak Rd.

NoPo — a name designed to describe the emerging neighborhood that sits east of Spring Branch, north of the Galleria, and west of Timbergrove — will be an all-day concept that serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner with a market designed to provide staples to nearby apartment residents. Berg has hired chef Jose Hernandez, a French-trained chef whose resume includes Triniti, Etoile, and Lucienne at downtown’s currently closed Hotel Alessandra, to serve as the company’s culinary director and develop the menu for NoPo Café.

“We have these openings. I wanted to start strengthening our culinary team as we expand,” Berg tells CultureMap. “He was recommended to me by three or four people. We sat down. I thought he’d be a good fit with us and really help us do this.”

Berg also announced he hired Sean Mohammed to be the company’s vice president of concept development. A veteran of restaurants in New York, Miami, London, and more, Berg says Mohammed brings extensive experience in developing and opening new restaurants.

Berg  will certainly keep his new hires busy. The company has already announced that it’s relocating B.B. Italia to a new location in the Memorial area, opening a live fire steakhouse in a Timbergrove mixed-use development, and opening Trattoria Sofia, a romantic Italian restaurant in The Heights. Even more projects are on the way.

“There were good deals out there to be had,” Berg says. “You already probably had a lot put on hold in ‘20. Now we’re coming out of it, those holds are being taken off.”

Those good deals include NoPo Café. Berg partnered with the site’s developer, Robert Clay of Clay Development & Construction, Inc., to create the 3,000-square foot restaurant and market. It’s slated to open in early May.

Turning to the menu, Berg says it will serve both grab-and-go items like coffee and breakfast tacos as well as a full sit down experience. Lunch will offer staples like a hamburger as well as a range of salads. Dinner options will range from pizza to wagyu flank steak frites.

Developing a casual concept represents a big change for the owner of Turner’s, arguably Houston’s most luxurious restaurant, but Berg says he’s still found a way to work in some elevated details into the design.

“It’s casual, but there’s a beautiful bar,” he says. “It has a real calming mix between French country and vintage rodeo. Kind of a quirky but really relaxing neighborhood place.”