One of Houston’s fine dining staples will have a new home in 2020. Masraff’s will relocate from its current home on Post Oak Blvd to a new, six-story mixed use development at I-10 and Bunker Hill, owner Russell Masraff tells CultureMap.
Currently under construction at the site of a former Toys R Us, the property by Moody National Companies is expected to be complete by March. If all goes according to plan, Masraff’s will close its current location when its lease expires at the end of April and reopen in its new home in mid-May.
Confirming the long-circulating rumors, Russell Masraff, who owns the restaurant with his father Tony, says multiple reasons prompted him to seek a new location, but the biggest factor is the Uptown BRT project that METRO is building on Post Oak. Having both seen his business decline during the construction and filed an unsuccessful lawsuit that sought to stop it, Masraff doesn’t think the project will be beneficial to his restaurant once the busses starts rolling.
“The big thing is I wasn’t going to risk my entire livelihood,” Masraff says. “Does this natural barrier effect people coming into the Galleria area? Looking at other projects around the country, I would answer yes. A lot of people you talk to say it won’t be that way, but am I going to risk my entire livelihood on something that’s unknown? No chance.”
He also notes the increased competition in the area. When Masraff’s moved to Post Oak in 2010, projects like BLVD Place and River Oaks District didn’t exist yet, but they're dramatically increased the number of restaurants near the Galleria. With even more development coming, Masraff says he sees opportunity in the Memorial area with its proximity to neighborhoods like Spring Branch and the Energy Corridor.
“Right now, it is the most under-serviced area in Houston in terms of higher end restaurants,” Masraff says. “I think there’s five or six in CityCentre and most of them are steakhouses. I believe there’s a gap in the market. I live in that area. I know the area well.”
Much of what people like about Masraff’s will remain unchanged in its new home. The restaurant will continue to serve classic American fare built around steaks, wild-caught seafood, and wild game. Most of the restaurant’s staff is expected to relocate, too.
However, the ambiance will be different, Masraff says he wants the new place to look and feel different than the current restaurant.
“I want a restaurant with energy. I don’t want noise; I want energy. I want fun, I want excitement,” he says. “The design aspect of it is different color schemes, different textures, different light fixtures.”
Some of that new energy will come from the bar area that will include lounge seating and an east-facing patio that will be protected from the afternoon sun. Other design details will include a seafood display by the entrance that will be paired with a sushi station and an approximately 12-foot tall wine tower will display bottles in the middle of the dining room.
“We know we’ll do well out there. We know the area, we know the businesses,” Masraff says. “The level of excitement is off the charts. It’s so nice to have a light at the end of the tunnel to get away from this area.”
The Houston Business Journal was the first to report on Masraff's plans.