Fans of late-night eats have a promising new option courtesy of Grand Prize, the popular, Montrose-area bar. Beginning this week, the restaurant industry’s favorite hangout spot has new food offerings overseen by Chito Perez and of Umbrella Fellas.
Under the banner of the Trophy Case Kitchen, Perez will lead a collaborative kitchen that features four vendors who have been building their reputations through regular appearances at other Inner Loop bars: Southern food specialist Knives in Water on Monday; pupusa maker Allwayz Hungry on Tuesday; GhostHand Pasta on Wednesday; and Umbrella Fellas every Thursdays through Saturday. Sundays will be available for one-off pop-ups.
Grand Prize general manager Lindsey Beale tells CultureMap that she approached Perez based on the suggestion of former tenants Pan de Taco as well as her experience eating Umbrella Fellas signature hot dogs and burgers. She says she wanted to bring back the bar’s reputation as an incubator for up-and-coming culinary talent. Over the course of its 10-year history, the bar’s kitchen has been home to lots of exciting pop-ups by everyone from Richard Knight (Hunky Dory, Feast) to Chris Shepherd.
“When I took over managing, part of my goal was basically to take the kitchen — having a kitchen with standard bar food is great — but for me it was important to change the kitchen where I was able to bring things out of that kitchen that hadn’t been seen in a long time,” she says.
Dividing responsibilities between multiple vendors comes with benefits other than variety; it makes it easier for the cooks to maintain quality despite the 6 pm-2 am operating hours and an expectation that they prepare at least three items that includes at least one vegan/vegetarian option.
“It was important for me to have work-life balance, a lot of people were burning themselves out and not doing the food they wanted to do,” she says.
For Perez and Umbrella Fellas manager/operating partner Whit Andrew, the opportunity to get off the street proved too good to resist. Over time, Umbrella Fellas plans to expand its menu and incorporate more local ingredients into its offerings. In the future, vendors could collaborate on specials that combine influences.
“It’s great to see Grand Prize give us, the small guys, an opportunity to come into that space and make a name for ourselves.” Perez says.