backstreet will be back

Beloved River Oaks restaurant temporarily closes after small fire

Beloved River Oaks restaurant temporarily closes after small fire

Backstreet Cafe patio day
Backstreet Cafe sustained a small fire. Backstreet Cafe/Facebook

UPDATE: Backstreet Cafe will reopen at noon on Saturday, August 17.


Backstreet Cafe, one of Houston's favorite patio destinations, will be closed temporarily after suffering a small fire Friday morning.

The Houston Fire Department responded to an incident at the River Oaks restaurant at approximately 7:30 am. Sean Beck, beverage director for the H-Town Restaurant Group that owns Backstreet Cafe, tells CultureMap that the damage is limited to a small area of the kitchen.

No one was hurt, and Beck is hopeful the restaurant will reopen in a few days after the damage is cleaned up and repaired.

Backstreet holds a special place in the lives of H-Town owners Tracy Vaught and chef Hugo Ortega. The chef started working there as a busboy. When he showed an interest in cooking, Vaught sent him to culinary school. Eventually, the two fell in love and got married.

Now, Ortega is a James Beard Award winner; together, the couple own some of Houston's most notable restaurants, including Hugo's, Caracol, and Xochi. They documented the story in a cookbook that celebrated the restaurant's 30th anniversary in 2013.

Vaught released the following statement:

We are sad to report that we had a small fire early this morning at Backstreet Cafe, but thankfully no one was injured and the building is intact thanks to the quick response of the Houston Fire Department. The fire started in and was contained to a small part of the wall above one of the stoves, and the damaged area is being assessed to figure out exact cause. We are closed for business today, and awaiting testing to see if we can reopen as soon as tomorrow. As soon as they are complete, we will know more, and will update everyone. Thank you for your concern and support.