On this week's episode of "What's Eric Eating," chef Ronnie Killen joins CultureMap food editor Eric Sandler to discuss his numerous projects. Since his last appearance on the show three years ago, Killen has opened Killen's TMX, his Tex-Mex restaurant in Pearland, and a second location of Killen's Steakhouse in The Woodlands. This summer, he'll add two more establishments to his portfolio: Killen's, a comfort food restaurant near The Heights, and a second location of Killen's Barbecue in The Woodlands.
The conversation begins with a deep dive into the status of Killen's, which will open this summer in the former Hickory Hollow space on Heights Boulevard near Washington Avenue. Chef Killen shares a number of details, including that the design takes its inspiration from his grandmother's house and will feature family photos. Killen describes the menu as taking its inspiration from his family recipes; dishes will include both Killen's signatures like fried chicken and brisket enchiladas alongside comfort classics like smothered pork chops and chicken and dumplings. Weekend breakfast will feature scratch-made biscuits, egg dishes, and more.
"There's going to be pictures of my grandmother, my godparents, that were into gardening," Killen says about the decor. "There's pictures of them at festivals, winning. When they would go to a place, people were like, I guess we're fighting for second. A little of my competitiveness came from them. Trying to do your best when you were at an event."
As for his other projects, the chef says Killen's Barbecue should open its Woodlands location next month. Work has already begun on the former Culver's space, and it will have the same smoker capacity as the Pearland original. Killen's TMX recently underwent some changes to focus its menu more explicitly on Tex-Mex items, and Killen says he's been spending more time at the Pearland restaurant to ensure the dishes meet his standards.
Prior to the interview, Sandler and co-host Mary Clarkson, the owner of Avondale Food & Wine in Montrose, discuss the news of the week. Their topics include: restaurants that have temporarily closed after an employee tests positive for COVID-19; recent bar and restaurant closures such as Lucky's Pub and Américas; and the return of Houston Restaurants Weeks under the leadership of Katie Stone, founder Cleverley Stone's daughter.
In the restaurants of the week segment, the hosts discuss their recent meals at Daddy's Burgers, Clark Cooper Concept's summertime pop-up at The Dunlavy, as well as UB Preserv, Chris Shepherd's restaurant that reopened last week.