With Seth Siegel-Gardner and Terrence Gallivan at The Pass and Provisions and Randy Evans and Philippe Gaston at Haven/Cove, chefs partnerships are the newest thing in restaurants. But when Ronnie Killen of Killen's Steakhouse and Hubcap Grill's Ricky Craig announced that they were joining forces to open CK's Steakhouse on 19th Street, it still came as a bit of a surprise.
Craig and Killen tell CultureMap that they have been acquaintances for years, but became closer over the past few months, meeting up on joint appearances on The Cleverley Show and talking when Craig came down to Pearland to preview Killen's barbecue.
The two had briefly discussed partnering on a burger concept in Pearland, but after Killen's plans for a Heights location of his eponymous steakhouse fell through, Killen and Craig decided to collaborate on a steakhouse concept next door to Hubcap Grill on 19th Street in the Heights.
"A lot of people were upset about me not going there, but I think this is a good alternative," Killen says.
The menu will feature locally sourced steaks from vendors that Killen has been working with, including grass-fed Texas akaushi beef from Strube Ranch, as well as Gulf seafood, cheese from the Houston Dairymaids and a local coffee program.
"We want to do something different than the average steakhouse fare," says Killen, explaining that the focus will be on "really good steak for a really good value," with cuts starting at around $25.
The structure, currently an automotive shop, is relatively small and will seat less than 100 (making it smaller than the Killen's Steakhouse in Pearland) but the chefs say that there will be an extensive covered patio and that there's potential for expansion.
"I'm not even going to handle the Twitter account … we're keeping it professional," Craig says with a laugh.
With the lease freshly signed, Craig says the design is still a work in progress but that CK's will feature "nice stonework" and "a Texas look," and will definitely have some sort of physical separation from Hubcap.
"You won't be hearing the Hubcap jukebox over there. We want guests to be able to sit on the patio, have a glass of wine and relax," Craig says.
"I'm not even going to handle the Twitter account . . . we're keeping it professional," says Craig with a laugh, referencing his habit of getting into skirmishes online. "We really want to give customers what they want."
But make no mistake, despite the lower price point and a focus on value, Killen and Craig still say CK's will be the steakhouse to beat when it opens next spring.
"We'll compete with anybody in town," Killen says. "Look what [Ricky] does, what I do — it's going to be a great win for everybody."