On this week's episode of "What's Eric Eating," chef Jason Giagrande joins CultureMap food editor Eric Sandler to discuss The Roastery, the coffee shop and cafe that recently opened its third location inside H-E-B's massive Briargrove store. Giagrande begins by explaining how he formed the "Four J's" along with fellow New York chefs Jonathan Waxman, Jimmy Bradley, and Joey Campanaro and the partnership they formed with H-E-B to sell sauces, coffee, and other items. Ultimately, that partnership evolved into The Roastery.
Customers can expect to find the same style of grab-and-go locations that are in The Heights and Bellaire at H-E-B's upcoming locations on Washington Avenue and in Upper Kirby; smaller, kiosk locations are coming to the Meyerland location and could be retrofitted into existing stores. Giangrade sees opportunity for more than coffee shops in Houston.
"There's a lot of opportunity to do different concepts aside from just the coffee. Once we're a little further down the road on the San Felipe location is when I'll start to look at other opportunities in the Houston market," he says. Asked about New York style pizza or Italian, Giangrade acknowledges that's an obvious step. "Probably my first concept out of the gate would be something along the Italian lines, but luckily I have a pretty good bullpen that I could pull from in other concepts that we've had some experience with, probably seasonal American, things along those lines."
Prior to Giagrande's interview, Houston Food Finder publisher Phaedra Cook joins Sandler to discuss the news of the week. Their topics include whether Balls Out Burger's name contributed to its closure; Voodoo Doughnut's plans to open two locations inside the Loop; and the openings of Verdine and Dolce and Cannoli Pizzeria. In the restaurants of the week segment, they discuss their meals at Alice Blue, which has a new direction under chef Brandi Key, and La Villa, the French restaurant in Montrose that has a new direction courtesy of chef Kevin d’Andréa.