The Houston area’s third Katz’s (2200 N. Shepherd Dr.) will open to the public at 9 am on Tuesday, September 15, with 24-hour service to start on September 22. Owner Barry Katz has a straightforward goal for the Heights location of his family’s namesake restaurant.
“You can travel the country. I don’t think you’ll find a nicer 24-hour restaurant, with better food quality, design, cleaner, more inviting, more welcoming. That’s become the mission statement for us,” Katz tells CultureMap.
To help achieve that goal, Katz recruited the Austin and Houston-based design firm The Michael Hsu Office of Architecture (Uchi, La Lucha, Oporto Fooding House, etc) to create a ground up build with a look that honors the family’s New York roots while crafting a retro aesthetic designed for The Heights. Of course, the doors don’t have locks — they’re chained shut at night for now — a nod to the slogan “Katz’s never kloses.”
Compared to its sister location in Montrose, the new Katz’s is lighter and brighter thanks to windows on all sides and a massive skylight. It also puts a greater focus on the bar, with a large U-shaped seating area with plenty of TVs for watching games. Although Hsu completed the design before the spread of COVID-19, one-third of the seating is outdoors, which is well suited to the present moment.
“We built something that feels like its been in the neighborhood a long time,” Katz says. “It’s a low-profile building. We did a lot of work not to make it tall, to make it 1950s retro.”
The new restaurant completes an 18-month long process of rejuvenation for Katz’s that started with shortening its name by dropped the “deli and bar.” Both its locations in Montrose and The Woodlands have been remodeled, and the menu has received a comprehensive overhaul.
Despite no longer officially branding itself as a “deli,” diners can count on seeing their favorites like the Reuben sandwich, blitzes, and matzo ball soup. Now, they’re joined by new additions. In particular, Katz cites the pan-seared Australian sea bass served over quinoa with an almond vinaigrette and a grilled salmon salad with strawberries and blueberries as two examples of the broader approach.
“The reality with delis is, the traditional delis around the country are a dying breed,” Katz says. “I’ve talked to other people around the country; updating menus, offering classics as well as new stuff, is the way to survive and thrive.”
Those changes extend to the beverage program. Customers will find new cocktails, frozen drinks, juices, beer flights (four, 5-ounce pours for $9.99), and Texas wines among the extensive selections, which seems fitting for a restaurant that serves alcohol every hour it is legally allowed to.