Large scale gatherings like concerts and professional sports may be on hold for the foreseeable future, but people still want to go out when they can do so safely. With 25,000 square feet of mostly outdoor space, Houston’s second location of The Rustic might be just what the city’s diners are looking for.
Located in Uptown Park, The Rustic Post Oak opens Wednesday, July 8 for lunch, dinner, and weekend brunch. Kyle Noonan, who owns the concept with his business partner Josh Sepkowitz and Texas country music singer Pat Green, tells CultureMap that the new Rustic is ideally suited for social distancing.
“All our Rustic locations are some of the busiest in the state. It’s because the consumer knows that they can come, sit outside, be in a big, open-air environment, safely social distance, and still have fun,” Noonan says. “It’s just not that much fun to sit in a half-empty restaurant. At The Rustic, there’s energy, there’s activity, but it’s wildly safe because of the layout and the fact that it’s open air.”
The new location’s design features a spacious, covered patio with a skylight that lets in natural light but protects people from rain. Fans and misters help keep things cool even during a Houston summer.
Beyond the design differences, Noonan notes The Rustic Post Oak has a different focus than its downtown sibling, which is primarily designed to serve as a companion to the convention center and nearby sports stadiums.
“The one on Post Oak is more for your neighborhood Houstonian to be your weekly stop,” Noonan says. “Because of that, we have programmed it differently . . . It’s a little more elevated. We typically build about a $1 million to $1.5 million kitchen. This is a $2 million kitchen.”
In other words, The Rustic Post Oak spent more on its kitchen than small restaurants do on all of their construction, which means a greater emphasis on food than other locations. Noonan touts a new steak program featuring meat from a ranch in Oregon that “is graded higher than USDA Prime.” Those steaks are cooked on wood-fired grills that are custom made for The Rustic.
The new location’s beverage offerings have been enhanced, too, with 90 taps that feature all of the expected Texas beers plus 15 wines on tap and draft cocktails. It also claims to stock the largest selection of tequila in Houston.
Similarly, live music remains part of the experience, with performances Thursday through Sunday, but the focus will be on creating a pleasant atmosphere for dining rather than standing-room-only concerts. Noonan says he expects national acts will remain a focus at the downtown location.
The addition of The Rustic is the latest of a series of changes at Uptown Park. Over the past couple of years, the property has added newcomers such as Flower Child, Mendocino Farms, and Merus Grill, as well as the updating of established concepts Uptown Sushi and M&S Seafood (formerly McCormick and Schmick's). The Tasting Room closed its Uptown Park location in May.