2 restaurant closings

2 classic and longtime Houston restaurants announce imminent shutters

2 classic and longtime Houston restaurants announce imminent shutters

Tony Mandola's Gulf Coast
Cioppino at Tony Mandola's. Tony Mandola's/Facebook
Spanish Village restaurant sign
Spanish Village will close July 17. Spanish Village/Facebook
1 Urban Green happy hour August 2013 Phyllis Mandola, Tony Mandola
Phyllis and Tony Mandola. Photo by © Roswitha Vogler/Photosbyrovo.com
Tony Mandola's Gulf Coast
Spanish Village restaurant sign
1 Urban Green happy hour August 2013 Phyllis Mandola, Tony Mandola

Two classic Houston restaurants are preparing to say farewell this month. Tex-Mex restaurant Spanish Village and Gulf Coast seafood favorite Tony Mandola’s both recently announced their final days of service at their current locations.  

Spanish Village will close July 17, owner Abhi Sreerama announced on Facebook. Open since 1953, the restaurant, which resides on the border of Third Ward and the Museum District, is known for its classic Tex-Mex fare such as cheese enchiladas and queso as well as its signature fried chicken.

Sreerama purchased the restaurant in 2018 and made a number of changes to improve operations, such as slimming down the menu. He worked with chef Ishita Chakravarty to introduce a number of vegan dishes.

The restaurateur cited a number of accomplishments during his tenure, including tripling revenue. Still, the historic building’s deteriorating condition prompted him to sell, he writes. However, the restaurant may not be gone for good.

“We are currently in discussions with a few potential buyers for the Spanish Village brand and recipes to hopefully keep the tradition alive,” Sreerama writes. “We are looking to keep the Little Village vegan menu going as well, but are roughing out the details there as well.’

Diners looking to sip one last margarita inside the restaurant’s Christmas light-decorated dining room will need a reservation to do so. Make one by email, phone, or OpenTable. In addition, people may also contribute to a GoFundMe that’s designed to assist employees while they find new jobs.

Turning to Tony Mandola’s, co-owner Phyllis Mandola announced on Instagram that she and her husband Tony Mandola will cease operations at their location on Waugh on July 26. Known for its combination of Gulf Coast fare like gumbo and fried seafood that’s paired with Italian-American specialities such as spaghetti and meatballs and lasagna, Tony Mandola’s has occupied its building at 1212 Waugh Dr. since 2011. It traces its roots to the Blue Oyster Bar that the couple opened in 1982.

As the Houston Chronicle notes, both members of the couple are Houston restaurant royalty. Phyllis Mandola is the daughter of legendary Houston restaurateur Ninfa Lorenzo, who popularized tacos al carbon at the Original Ninfa’s on Navigation. Tony Mandola is a member of the Houston restaurant family behind a wide array of concepts, including Carrabba’s, Damian’s, and Ragin’ Cajun. 

“We are honored to be the setting for countless celebrations and milestones over the years for family and friends,” Mandola writes in her post. “We have made magnificent friends, filled many thousands of tummies, said goodbye to beloved family and guests and welcomed new family and new customers.”

Thankfully, the closure doesn’t appear to be the end of the road for the restaurant. Mandola promises that a new location will be announced soon.

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The Houston Press was first to report the closure of Spanish Village. The Houston Chronicle was first to report the closure of Tony Mandola's.