What's in a name? A trio of Houston restaurants change it up as new owners takeover
When it comes to restaurants, what's in a name? Would the same food by any other chef still taste as sweet?
I think the answer is "maybe." Some restaurants quietly change hands and keep the same chefs, same service and same recipes that made them popular to begin with. Others benefit from new blood — like the reinvigorated 51 Fifteen inside Sake Fifth Avenue, now owned by Hearsay's Lucky Chopra — while others can never quite replicate the formula.
Fans of One's-A-Meal, the cult favorite Greek-American greasy spoon in Montrose, will be happy to learn that despite a new owner (Ted Mousoudakis) and a new name (Theo's), not much else is changing at the 24-hour diner.
"[Besides the name] I haven't changed one thing. The employees didn't change, the menu didn't change," Mousoudakis told Eating Our Words, though the blog notes that he has added a beer and wine license.
Over at Just Dinner, a charming bungalow restaurant in Montrose (foodies might remember it as the site of the pop-up Just August Project), owner Andrew Rebori has retired and sold the restaurant to veteran employee Lila Rivas.
Rivas says she is keeping the BYOB concept and the dinner-only hours, but has brought in chef Daniel Toro (formerly of *17) who will be bringing in some of his French-inspired specialties to blend with the rustic Italian menu. Rivas tells CultureMap that September will mark the beginning of fall planting in Just Dinner's backyard garden, so guests can expect specials and seasonal menus based on what's fresh.
Rebori isn't the only restaurateur ready to take a little time off. After three years on Washington Ave., Kathy and Luke Raia of Raia's Italian Cafe & Market say they are ready to spend more time with their family, and have passed the casual Italian eatery to Terry Polovina, a regular customer and a culinary graduate from the Art Institute of Houston. The Raias will still be working for a few weeks helping with the transition, but have posted a farewell note on their website for fans:
While we enjoy serving each and every one of you daily, the demands of a restaurateur’s life are many. As we get older, the importance of family time is even greater. We’ve decided that it’s time to make the decision to let Raia’s Italian Market move on to its next chapter...
....Terry Polovina approached us in hopes of taking over the restaurant and continuing its success. Terry has a culinary degree from the Art Institute of Houston, a strong business background, and has been a regular customer of ours. We feel confident that we are leaving “our baby” in good hands. Of course, there will be changes, but we have heard his vision for the restaurant and believe he has the drive, skill and determination to ensure its continued success. With help from our existing staff, including our chef, Tony, Terry will continue making the same food you have grown to love over the past three years, adding in some surprises along the way."
Do you give restaurants a new chance with new owners? Which changeovers have been the biggest successes?