A national food magazine has recognized a Houston restaurant group for its good works during the pandemic. Bon Appetit named Midtown restaurant Lucille's and Lucille's 1913, its affiliated non-profit, as one of 12 national recipients of its Heads of the Table awards.
Given instead of its annual list of America's best new restaurants, Bon Appetit restaurants editor Elyse Inamine describes the Heads of the Table winners as follows:
They are the ones that sprang up (or quickly recalibrated) in the pandemic to help their communities and others in the industry who needed it most. We’re choosing these people and places not because they’re making the best food (though we’d argue that they are and we have recipes that prove it) but because they are giving opportunity to formerly incarcerated people, fighting for fair wages, and feeding their neighbors in personal and respectful ways.
Speaking to CBS This Morning, Bon Appetit editor-in-chief Dawn Davis added her own praise for Lucille's chef Chris Williams. "What I love is that [Williams] makes fantastic food. He's traveled the world, and his global influences show up in his restaurant in Houston," she says.
"But he also takes care of the elderly, he took care of essential workers. When Texas had a shutdown, he opened his really beautiful patio to other restaurants . . . and he continues to work with other institutions and organizations that are helping the food insecure. He is the epitome to me of Head of the Table."
The magazine also published Davis' interview with Williams where he discusses some of his other initiatives, such as letting unemployed bartenders hold pop-ups on Lucille's patio to earn money while bars remained shutdown.
"We put close to $53,000 directly in their pockets," Williams says. "We ate all the costs, but we were thinking about sustainability and how we can help others — not making a profit."
Williams founded Lucille's 1913 last year to feed seniors in neighborhoods such as Sunnyside, Acres Homes, Fifth Ward, and Third Ward. Since then, it has served hundreds of thousands of meals and participated in events such as distributing meals after this year's winter storm, giving away 2,000 meals on Juneteenth, and serving 5,000 meals during the holiday season in partnership with the Kinder Foundation.
The coming months will be a busy time for Williams and the Lucille's Hospitality Group. Later this year, Williams and Top Chef finalist Dawn Burrell will open Late August, their new restaurant in The Ion, Rice University's innovation-focused mixed-use development. Next year, LHG will open Rado Cafe, which will serve coffee, cocktails, and "cuisine with a purpose."