Foodie News

Ambitious restaurant to shutter and become a Barnaby's: A win for the Museum District?

Ambitious restaurant to shutter and become a Barnaby's: A Museum win?

Museum Park Cafe interior
Museum Park Cafe will close after dinner service April 10 and become a new locaiton of Barnaby's Cafe. Courtesy photo

An ambitious neighborhood restaurant is closing, but its replacement may be just what the Museum District needs.

In a statement, Balcor Commerical owner Chris Balat revealed that he will close Museum Park Cafe after dinner service April 11. A new location of Barnaby's Cafe will replace MPC on April 13. 

The statement reads as follows: 

We are very excited about the opportunity to bring Barnaby's to the Museum District. We have always felt that Barnaby's would be the perfect fit for this neighborhood. We knew that Museum Park Cafe would reenergize the Museum District restaurant scene and we happily met that goal. Balcor remains committed to the future progress of the Museum District restaurant scene, and Bosta, another Balcor Hospitality concept, as well as Dak & Bop, are proof of that commitment. We are pleased that our location has found a loyal base so quickly, and we look forward to making additional progress with new tenants. We look forward to being involved in the neighborhood's evolution, which is rip for fresh, new concepts. We are also committed to the growth and success of our first concept Could 10 Creamery, which will be our focus in the coming months.

The news may not come as a surprise to veterans of the dining scene, some of whom predicted privately that Museum Park Cafe might not have a long lifespan after original chef Justin Basye's abrupt departure in December. Still, Balat tells CultureMap that his only goal with opening the restaurant in his Parc Binz development was to enhance the neighborhood he lives in.

If that means his original intention of opening a Houston version of celebrated New York restaurant Union Square Cafe has come to an end, so be it.

 "For me, nothing is off the table. Balcor is not taking its card off the table." 

"We launched Museum Park Cafe with great expectations, but the neighborhood deserves a full-service restaurant," Balat says. He adds later that when he first conceived the Parc Binz development three years ago he had Barnaby's in mind for the space that ultimately became MPC.

"We're lucky to have Barnaby's in Houston . . . (The decision) was about what's best for the neighborhood." He expects the conversion of MPC into Barnaby's to take approximately 90 days.

Balat will continue to own Bosta, the popular wine and coffee shop that's also located in Parc Binz. Items like the hamburger that were created in the Museum Park Cafe kitchen will fall off the menu, but the salads and charcuterie plate will remain. "We'll be paying close attention to Bosta to ensure it's the best it can be," Balat promises.

As for Museum Park Cafe chef Jason White, Balat says he's looking forward to what the chef will accomplish in the future. "He's a high caliber guy. He needs to be somewhere that suits his experience."

Balat still owns a piece of property on Caroline Street near the Asia Society that may still become a restaurant in the future.

"For me, nothing is off the table," Balat says. "Balcor is not taking its card off the table."