Ken Bridge isn’t letting COVID-19 stop him from opening a new restaurant. The owner of Delicious Concepts — the Heights-based restaurant group behind Ritual, Lola, Blackbird Izakaya, Shepherd Park Draught House, and Ready Room — will unveil his newest project this week.
Millie’s Kitchen & Cocktails will open for lunch and dinner beginning at 11 am on Friday, April 24. The new restaurant takes its inspiration from East Coast-style seafood shacks that serve dishes such as fried fish, lobster rolls, and clam chowder.
Two years in the making, Bridge partnered with his friend Chris Jones to convert the former Oak Forest Chill ice house at 3542 Oak Forest Dr. into Millie’s. Already paying rent on the space, Bridge tells CultureMap he realized that restrictions preventing restaurants from seating customers meant he could open Millie’s without finishing all the interior details.
“We don’t have to have this great furniture or kick ass lighting. No patrons are going to be dining here [for now],” Bridge says. “I pushed, put the pedal to the metal. We’re clear for takeoff.”
The menu will start small with a limited selection of fried seafood dishes like cod and shrimp, plus lobster rolls and other sandwiches. As the kitchen gets its sea legs, Bridge will add dishes that are common on the East Coast but rare in Texas, including both steamed and fried clams.
‘The whole premise is I grew up eating a lot of seafood, all different types,” Bridge says. “I wanted to offer a really great nod to that sort of chart house: fish fry, lobster roll, fried clams. Eric, why can’t we find fucking fried clams in this town, dude?”
Ordering will be via Bridge’s proprietary Roovy app that powers his other restaurants. Converting Ritual from dine-in only to full time to-go came with some challenges, Bridge acknowledges, but he’s confident that the lessons learned will make opening Millie’s easier.
He’s also not worried about fried items losing their texture during transport. Bridge recalls a lesson he learned when he operated Dragon Bowl several years ago; letting fried dishes cool for a bit before sealing their containers prevents them from steaming into mush.
Yes, it’ll be a work in progress with some kinks to resolve, but that’s true of any restaurant opening. For Oak Forest residents with a taste for seafood, Millie’s could be just the right addition to the neighborhood.
“Fuck it,” Bridge says. “Let’s open up.”