On this week's episode of "What's Eric Eating," Justin Ware and Patrick Abalos join CultureMap food editor Eric Sandler to discuss their East End cocktail bar Night Shift. The recently opened spot has quickly become a destination for cocktail fans thanks to its diverse menu, retro design, and craveable food.
The conversation begins with both bartenders discussing the career paths that led them to working together as well as the two year process of bringing Night Shift to fruition. They talk about partnering with local design and construction firm Rootlab to create the space, working with their team to test hundreds of recipes for the cocktail menu, and hiring chef Daniel Leal, whose appealing menu of Mexican-inspired fare has made Night Shift popular with their peers in the hospitality industry as an after work destination.
Abalos and Ware also provide Sandler with a preview of their future plans. Night Shift will soon add brunch to its offerings; in December, it will participate in the nationwide Sippin' Santa pop-up that will transform the bar into a tiki-inspired, Christmas-themed wonderland.
Sandler asks Ware what it's been like transitioning from manager to owner. "I'll be the first person to say managing running a bar and working on that side of it to get everything up and running has been a lot bigger undertaking than I could have imagined," he says.
"I think I said to you the other night that I had positive and negative feelings about what to expect. It's been 10 times that. My highs have been super high. My lows have been super low. It's been up and down, but the bar is going great and we're moving forward."
Prior to the interview, Sandler and co-host Michael Fulmer discuss the news of the week. Their topics include: Chris Shepherd's plans to relocate Georgia James and shutter Hay Merchant; Baso, a Basque restaurant opening next spring in the Heights; and Chivos, the new Mexican-American restaurant in the Heights led by chef Thomas Bille (Belly of the Beast) and Night Moves Hospitality (Space Cowboy, Trash Panda Drinking Club).
In the restaurants of the week segment, Fulmer shares what's new in the world of Houston barbecue, including housemade sausages at Roegels and a whole hog pop-up he recently attended. Sandler discusses some of his favorite dishes from a recent visit to The Union Kitchen.