new faces at BLT

Hot Heights bar reloads with award-winning bartender and acclaimed chef

Hot Heights bar reloads with award-winning bartender + acclaimed chef

Sarah Crowl Rosie Cannonball
Bartender Sarah Crowl. Photo by Julie Soefer
Better Luck Tomorrow interior
Better Luck Tomorrow has been open for four years. Photo by Jenn Duncan Photography
Michael O'Connor
Chef Michael O'Connor. Vic & Anthony's Steakhouse/Facebook
Sarah Crowl Rosie Cannonball
Better Luck Tomorrow interior
Michael O'Connor

One of Houston's best bars has loaded up with some major culinary talent. Better Luck Tomorrow announced that it has hired Sarah Crowl as head bartender and Michael O'Connor as executive chef.

Opened by Anvil owner Bobby Heugel and James Beard Award-winning chef Justin Yu (Theodore Rex) in 2017, Better Luck Tomorrow has been a hit since day one. The establishment combines a casual, welcoming atmosphere with approachable cocktails and an eclectic food that's been honed by Yu and a team of other chefs.

Better Luck Tomorrow has won a number of awards, including Bar of the Year in the 2018 CultureMap Tastemaker Awards and best new restaurant recognition from both Bon Appetit and Food & Wine.

“Justin and I have such distinct and broad experiences in this industry, and BLT is really our only place where we can lightheartedly explore these interests while still offering a comforting experience to guests,” Heugel said in a statement. “We think we’ve struck a chord with Houstonians that’s unique to our backgrounds both high- and low-brow.”

Hiring Crowl and O'Connor will allow Heugel and Yu to grow the concept from both a culinary and physical perspective. The owners have said that they intend to open a second location in the near future, although they haven't said where yet.

Crowl, who previously worked for Heugel at both Anvil and the short-lived all-day cafe Penny Quarter, comes to Better Luck Tomorrow via Rosie Cannonball, where she earned a CultureMap Tastemaker Awards Bartender of the Year nomination for her flavorful cocktails — both spirited and zero proof — that feature seasonal ingredients and Insta-worthy garnishes. She'll work alongside manager Anna Wilkins to further elevate the bar's cocktail offerings.

"Along with Houston, I love this bar," Crowl said. "I couldn’t be more excited to join this talented team and work with this company again. I am looking forward to playing a role in BLT’s evolution, and I hope to bring my mentorship and love for creativity to one of Houston’s favorite hangouts.” 

O'Connor comes with a similarly impressive resume, having worked as the executive chef at acclaimed steakhouse Vic & Anthony's since 2014. He also worked for Bryan Caswell at both Reef and Stella Sola. The chef will work with Yu to develop a new lunch menu for Better Luck Tomorrow and also further refine the Tuesday night pasta specials and Wednesday steak night promotion.

"My 11 years at Vic & Anthony’s have been amazing because of team I’ve worked with and all we’ve accomplished," O'Connor said. "I will miss them all intensely, but going to work with Justin and Bobby brings me an opportunity to grow and learn in a place I already love. I’m really looking forward to cooking for my neighbors and being able to put more ‘me’ onto plates under expert guidance."

Crowl has already started working at Better Luck Tomorrow, while O'Connor begins next month. The chef tweeted that his last day at the downtown steakhouse will be November 15.