On this week's episode of "What's Eric Eating," Common Bond CEO George Joseph and executive savory chef Jason Gould join CultureMap food editor Eric Sandler to discuss the rapidly expanding bistro and bakery. Since Joseph acquired sole ownership of the restaurant in early 2019, the restaurant has added locations near the Medical Center, in The Heights, and in Spring, plus an all-new drive-thru concept called Common Bond On the Go.
The conversation begins with Joseph explaining how an introduction to Common Bond founder Roy Shvartzapel ultimately led to him investing in the business in partnership with veteran Houston restaurateur Johnny Carrabba. After a mutual decision to part ways, Joseph set out to grow the business by recruiting a number of talented people, including president Chris Fannin and Gould. For the chef, joining Common Bond allowed him to blend the knowledge of French-style cooking he displayed during his tenure at Gravitas with the multi-unit experience he gained during his time with Cyclone Anaya's.
Gould explains that he found the restaurant's recipes to be "very good," but he's made some minor changes to improve efficiency and consistency across the different locations. In addition, he's developed a bar menu for the Spring location — the first Common Bond with a full liquor license — and a brasserie menu for the upcoming downtown location that will open once that market picks back up.
Sandler asks Joseph about the possibility of expanding Common Bond to other cities across Texas. He acknowledges it's a possibility but still sees plenty of opportunity in Houston, particularly with the On The Go concept.
"We think Houston is such a big area to cover, it's going to be awhile . . . I think our current commissary has a lot of capacity to add hopefully 10 more On The Gos and hopefully another bistro or two on the west side of town: Katy, Clear Lake, Sugar Land," Joseph says. "That's the thing about Houston, it's got so many pockets of great residential areas that people love Common Bond. They drive in from Katy, but they'd love to have it more convenient for them."
Prior to the interview, Fluff Bake Bar chef-owner Rebecca Masson joins Sandler to discuss the news of the week. Their topics include: the GoFundMe campaign that raised over $25,000 to help Masson recovered from the unexpected expenses of construction necessary to receive certain City of Houston permits, the James Beard Awards deciding not to name winners in 2020 or 2021, and the Taco Stand, a new concept from Burger Joint partners Shawn Bermudez and chef Matt Pak.
In the restaurants of the week segment, Masson and Sandler share some first impressions of Killen's, chef Ronnie Killen's Inner Loop restaurant that's inspired by his grandmother's cooking. Masson rates Killen's German chocolate cake as "legit."