Foodie News

Heights Tex-Mex joint stands on its own as restaurant group ends partnership

Heights Tex-Mex joint stands on its own as restaurant group expands

The El Cantina Superior chicken fried steak
F.E.E.D. TX leaves behind an innovative menu like this chile con carne-topped chicken fried steak. Courtesy photo

One of 2015's biggest restaurant surprises has been the revival of The El Cantina Superior under the direction of local restaurant group F.E.E.D. TX (Liberty Kitchen, BRC, Petite Sweets). Originally opened by Pink's Pizza owner Ken Bridge in 2014 to disastrous reviews, The El found new life, including a spot in CultureMap's Tastemaker Awards Best New Restaurant bracket, thanks to operations assistance from F.E.E.D. partners Lee Ellis and culinary director Lance Fegen. 

With The El on a more solid footing and lots of new restaurants in the works, including a recent opening of Liberty Kitchen in Austin and plans for locations in Memorial, Garden Oaks and Rice Village, F.E.E.D. announced Thursday that it had ended its involvement with the Tex-Mex restaurant.

That also means F.E.E.D.'s on-site personnel who oversaw the transformation have moved on. Chef Chris "Crash" Hethcox now works at Liberty Austin. Similarly, F.E.E.D's front of house management has gone back to the company's other concepts, but Fegen tells CultureMap the company trained a kitchen manager who's tasked with maintaining his standards. "Two managers we hired from Ruggles are still there," Fegen adds.

Fegen expresses optimism that Bridge will continue growing The El without F.E.E.D.'s involvement. "We gave him the tools and the menu . . . We took him from $20,000 to $80,000 per week," Fegen says. "If he continues to do those things, there's no reason he can't be successful."