Whats Eric Eating
What's Eric Eating Episode 220

Inside CityCentre's eclectic new gathering spot, plus high-style Italian in The Heights

CityCentre's hot new gathering spot, plus Heights high-style Italian

Daily Gather Trent Patterson Aaron Lyons Brandi Key
Aaron Lyons, second from left, and Brandi Key are this week's guests.  Photo by Kimberly Park
Trattoria Sofia Pappardelle alla Pesto Siciliano
Trattoria Sofia is the restaurant of the week. Photo by Kirsten Gilliam
Mala Sichuan Bistro Heights MKT rendering
Mala Sichuan is coming to the Heights.  Courtesy of Gin Design Group
Daily Gather Trent Patterson Aaron Lyons Brandi Key
Trattoria Sofia Pappardelle alla Pesto Siciliano
Mala Sichuan Bistro Heights MKT rendering

On this week's episode of "What's Eric Eating," Aaron Lyons and chef Brandi Key join CultureMap food editor Eric Sandler to discuss Daily Gather. Scheduled to open in late December or early January in CityCentre, Daily Gather will be an eclectic restaurant designed to service a diverse array of needs.

The conversation begins with Key discussing her decision to join Five 12 Restaurant Concepts, the company behind Daily Gather and Dish Society. Lyons, Five 12's founder and CEO, explains why Key was the right fit for the job.

From there, Lyons and Key dive into all aspects of Daily Gather, including the overall concept, menu format, and design details. Slotting between a fast casual restaurant like Dish Society and some of CityCentre's more fine dining options like Capital Grille, Daily Gather aims to be flexible enough to serve as a lunch and happy hour for area office workers as well as a family-friendly option that will include a kid's menu. 

Lyons also provides an update on his plans to grow Dish Society beyond its six Houston-area outposts. Revealing that he recently returned from a trip to Austin to scout for locations, he predicts it will debut in a new Texas city sometime in 2022. 

Finally, Sandler asks Key about the current state of the restaurant industry. The chef, who will need to hire Daily Gather's staff, sees opportunity coming out of the pandemic. 

One of the things I keep reminding myself is that people who are applying for jobs who want to come into the industry, all of these people have a true desire to be in this spot. Maybe their perspective isn't what I've looked for in the past. I've had people come in, maybe they don't have the experience to be an amazing line cook, but they have a skillset from another job. We'll teach you how to be a line cook. I think there's a lot of potential in how we treat out staff, how we develop people, and how we gain passion back. The people who are in it right now, I just find it so refreshing. 

Prior to the interview, Sandler and co-host Linda Salinas discuss the news of the week. Their topics include the two exciting restaurants coming to the Blossom Hotel in the Medical Center; Mala Sichuan opening a new location in the M-K-T mixed-use development; and Goode Company's plans to swap barbecue for seafood in The Woodlands.

In the restaurant of the week segment, they discuss a recent meal at Trattoria Sofia. Tune in to hear their thoughts ono Ben Berg's high-style Italian restaurant that just opened in The Heights.

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