A disruptive year for restaurants has brought the end to another establishment. Morningstar, a cafe and doughnut shop in The Heights, announced on social media that its last day of service will be December 28.
Opened in 2016 by Blacksmith owner David Buehrer and Ecky Prabanto, Morningstar put an Asian twist on the familiar coffee shop and cafe concept. For example, sambal spiced up a honey butter chicken biscuit, savory rice bowls could be had for breakfast or lunch, and shaking beef salad made for a satisfying meal. Matcha tea provided an alternative for people who wanted a beverage that could be consumed dairy-free.
Morningstar's doughnuts benefitted from Buehrer's roots in the restaurant industry. Sam Phan, described as a "Cambodian doughnut jedi," helped the shop develop its recipes for doughnuts and kolaches.
The shop also features a striking, modern design that included input from legendary University of Houston architecture professor John Zemanek.
"We understand this is sad news but we hope you can find joy in knowing you all helped cultivate an amazing community for so many years," the social media post reads. "We made it so far and are so thankful for the support we’ve received."
In a separate post, Buehrer added some additional, more personal thoughts:
Coffee has always been a community to me, and I've only ever opened locations where I believe a community can thrive and integrate into completely. @morningstarhou was my first endeavor after Blacksmith and the spiritual successor to the work we had done there. I'm really thankful to have worked alongside all our partners and while this story has come to an end I am hopeful for the future of Houston coffee. Thank you to everyone who supported Morningstar and understood the meaning and value of having an inclusive hub in such a lovely neighborhood.
This year has not been kind to casual, neighborhood cafes like Morningstar. Neither Tropicales, another project started by Buehrer and others, nor Boomtown Coffee's Main Street location reopened after March's initial shutdown of restaurants. Penny Quarter, a cafe concept from Squable/Better Luck Tomorrow partners Justin Yu and Bobby Heugel closed in June.