what' up with Clark Cooper
Brasserie 19 owners relocate pop-up burger joint to Rice Village, plot new wine bar
Clark Cooper Concepts, the Houston restaurant group behind establishments such as Brasserie 19 and Coppa Osteria, has reshuffled its remaining restaurant lineup. Beginning last week, it reopened The Dunlavy for breakfast and lunch and relocated its Daddy’s Burgers pop-up to the former home of Punk’s Simple Southern Food in Rice Village.
Co-owner Grant Cooper tells CultureMap that Punk’s has come to the end of its run as its original location next to Coppa, but the company plans to open a more stripped-down version focused on the restaurant’s signature fried chicken in a new location. Daddy’s Burgers will operate in Rice Village for now — possibly until the end of 2020 — at which point it will give way to a new, unnamed wine bar and restaurant that the company is still developing.
That’s a lot to take in. Let’s break it down a little further.
Clark Cooper launched Daddy’s Burgers in June at The Dunlavy, its restaurant and event space along Buffalo Bayou. The concept, built around the burgers Cooper serves at home, features burgers made with grass-fed beef patties, paired with tater tots, onion rings, milkshakes, cold beer, cocktails, and more. When Dunlavy regulars requested the restaurant resume serving its familiar menu of breakfast and lunch dishes, the company decided to relocate Daddy’s Burgers to Rice Village. Moving puts the burger restaurant in a more family-friendly area and creates synergy with Coppa, Cooper notes.
With the move, the Daddy’s Burgers menu has added some lighter options. The “...but Mama says” section includes a raw bar with oysters and shrimp, a crab Louie salad, shrimp cocktail, crab cakes, and salads. Asked about operating a burger restaurant so close to two national heavyweights in Shake Shack and Hopdoddy, Cooper replies that he isn’t concerned.
“A burger’s a burger, but each has their own styles, vibe, and mojo. Shake Shack is different than Hopdoddy, and Daddy’s Burgers is different from both of them,” he says.
As for Punk’s, Cooper says they plan to relaunch the Southern-inspired restaurant with a new version that’s more focused on its popular fried chicken, which he describes as Punk’s Chicken Shack. “When things calm down, we’ll find a home for Punk’s,” Cooper says.
Daddy’s Burgers will wind down around the end of 2020 to allow the space to transition into a new wine bar and restaurant that will also feature a market for high-end food items and grab-and-go meals. While it doesn’t have a name yet, Cooper says the menu is about 65-percent ready.
‘We’ll do a lot of shareable plates, things on Lazy Susans, Mediterranean-driven,” he says. “It will be California-inspired like a lot of our things. At the end of the day, it will be a neighborhood wine bar-restaurant with a market in it as well.”
Spare Cooper all the questions about whether this new concept is “Ibiza 2.0.” He and chef Charles Clark may be opening a “Mediterranean-driven,” wine-fueled new restaurant, but it will be distinct from their celebrated concept that ended its 20-year run in February.
“I don’t want people to think it’s Ibiza, because it’s not,” he says. “It’s going to have a totally different look, a different menu. It’s not Ibiza 2.0.”
Meanwhile, all of the company’s other plans for new concepts, including the healthy-eating restaurant Satisfy, are on-hold until restaurant operations return to a more normal footing.
“There’s really no reason I want to put the effort into launching a new restaurant [right now]. It’s hard enough at 100-percent,” Cooper says. “When you’ve got these unknowns, I feel like I don’t know what’s going to happen in the fall.”