HTX Good Eats 2012
Success stories

A budding Tex-Orleans restaurant empire: Coog-powered BB's Cafe plans to expand outside the Loop

A budding Tex-Orleans restaurant empire: Coog-powered BB's Cafe plans to expand outside the Loop

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Brooks Bassler opened his first BB's Cafe in Montrose at just 26 years old.  Photo by Whitney Radley
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The Tex-Orleans restaurant is known for its po-boys and its late hours.  Courtesy of BB's Cafe
Brooks Bassler_BB's Cafe_Montrose and Westheimer_Tex-Orleans
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Although Brooks Bassler didn't have a solid plan in place for what to do with his business degree from the University of Houston's Wolff Center for Entrepreneurship, growing up in an entrepreneurial family had him pretty convinced that he wanted to be working for himself.

He had grown up spoiled on the food of great cooks — his mother's Louisiana family showed him the best of Cajun cuisine — and after trying his hand in a fine dining establishment, a brew pub and the catering business, Bassler launched BB's Cafe at a tiny storefront off of Montrose and Westheimer in Nov. 2007, fully intending to make his bread and butter on catering.

"[The beginning] was brutal, to be honest," Bassler tells CultureMap. "I didn't know much about the restaurant business. I knew more about sales and development. So I learned the hard way." 

 Bassler distinguished BB's Cafe from other area Cajun restaurants by branding the menu as Tex-Orleans.

The entrepreneurship alum was just 26 years old, but he had the foresight to establish a specialty — BB's po-boys — and a differentiator — hours of operation (all of the locations are open until midnight or later, sometimes until 3 a.m.). 

Plus, Bassler distinguished BB's Cafe from other area Cajun restaurants by branding the menu as Tex-Orleans, counting queso and campechana on the menu and adding a fresh twist to other traditional favorites.

After less than a year and a half in business, Bassler's first big break came when Houston Chronicle critic Alison Cook featured BB's Cafe in a prominent spread.

That good press gave the fledgling po-boy shop the push it needed to launch a second storefront in downtown Houston. Shortly thereafter, it found impressive real estate at the corner of Studewood and White Oak Drive.

 From here, Bassler wants to expose outside-the-Loop diners to his concept, perhaps making a name for BB's Cafe in The Woodlands or Katy. 

 "The Heights location was a success from the first day we opened," Bassler says. That was in June 2011 — and just four months later, BB's Cafe was already looking to expand again.

This summer, BB's opened another storefront near Greenway Plaza, in the spot formerly occupied by Laurier Café & Wine, at the same time that it closed the doors of its downtown location, which was only marginally successful.

From here, Bassler wants to expose outside-the-Loop diners to his concept, perhaps making a name for BB's Cafe in The Woodlands or Katy. 

"I think that, getting started in a city like Houston that's so culinary driven and so competitive, if you can make it here — especially in [the Montrose] area — then you can make it anywhere," he says.