What's the dish?

Farm-to-table Houston restaurant hatches 2 new locations in The Heights and downtown

Farm-to-table Houston restaurant hatches 2 new Inner Loop locations

Dish Society shrimp and grits
Dish Society's shrimp and grits are coming to downtown and the Heights. Photo by Debora Smail
Dish Society Aaron Lyons
Aaron Lyons needs to hire 70 people for his new locations. Photo by Dragana Harris
Dish Society chicken and biscuits
Chicken and biscuits are a Dish Society staple. Photo by Kimberly Park
Dish Society shrimp and grits
Dish Society Aaron Lyons
Dish Society chicken and biscuits

Dish Society is heating up. The casual, farm-to-table restaurant will open two new locations in the next two months: first, as part of the Finn Hall food hall on December 3 and then its fourth full restaurant in the Heights on January 21, 2019.

Owner Aaron Lyons tells CultureMap he’s excited about both new arrivals. Signing on to Finn Hall gives the restaurant access to the downtown market without the expense or long-term commitment of a dedicated space. Even though Dish Society committed to Finn Hall before some of the other food halls coming to downtown were announced, he’s confident he made the right choice to join restaurants like Goode Co. Taqueria, Craft Burger, Mala Sichuan, and others.

“The group we’re working with, they’re really smart,” Lyons says. “They have a really awesome action plan. Their success is based on our success. Our incentives are aligned. They’re going to do everything to market the space.”

The Finn Hall version of Dish Society will serve a menu that Lyons says is about 75 percent of what the other locations offer. They chose to focus on dishes that could be executed quickly with the equipment that fits in the food hall. Thankfully, that includes signature items like shrimp and grits, brisket-stuffed sweet potato, and turkey avocado club sandwich. At breakfast, the menu includes staples like the traditional breakfast plate (eggs, bacon, toast, and fruit); a breakfast sandwich; and the chicken and biscuits.

By the time Finn Hall is up and running, Lyons will be ready to turn his attention to the Heights. Dish Society will open on January 21 at the Heights Central Station development on 11th Street between Heights Boulevard and Yale Street. With its family-friendly, affordable fare, Lyons has long seen the Heights as a good fit for Dish.

“What I saw was other than Revival Market, Bellagreen, and maybe Down House, there wasn’t a lot of places that met that middle ground where you can take your family for breakfast or hang out on the patio or have a quick dinner,” Lyons says. Later, he adds, “The Heights seems saturated with restaurants, but very few that we’ll compete with.”

While the food menu will be an exact match with the restaurant’s location in Tanglewood, Memorial, and Katy, the Heights location will feature an expanded bar area with more craft beer taps and an expanded cocktail selection. A lounge area with couches, games, and a TV will be available for those who just want to grab a drink and linger. The space will also feature a large patio with picnic tables for outdoor dining.

To accommodate all that growth, the restaurant intends to hire approximately 70 people for work in the kitchen and the dining room. It’s holding a job fair at the Heights location this Saturday, December 1, with free burgers, beer, and music. The company offers employees a range of benefits, including medical, dental, and vision insurance; reimbursement for the costs of massages; gym and yoga memberships; free English and Spanish language classes; and more.

As for what’s next, Lyons thinks the Houston area can support one or two more Dish Societies. He’d also like to bring the concept to his hometown of Austin. The restaurant’s success means that Lyons gets offered placements in prime real estate on a regular basis, but he’s searching for the right opportunity.

Even when he finds it, the process takes time to come to fruition. It’s taken almost two years from signing a lease to opening the doors at the Heights, but it’ll all be worthwhile when happy diners are sipping a craft beer and chowing down on a brisket-stuffed sweet potato.