On this week's episode of "What's Eric Eating," Sambrooks Management Company founder Michael Sambrooks and director of operations Steve Breaker join CultureMap food editor Eric Sandler to discuss their busy 2019. Since acquiring three restaurants from Cherry Pie Hospitality in September 2018, Sambrooks has made changes at Sam's Fried Chicken & Donuts, converted Star Fish into 1751 Sea & Bar, and opened Tex-Mex restaurant Candente in Montrose.
The conversation primarily focuses on 1751 and Candente, the new two restaurants Sambrooks and his team opened this year that made CultureMap's list of 2019's best new restaurants. Sambrooks and Breaker share their thoughts behind the development of both menus and discuss some of the challenges they've faced along the way — from the departure of culinary director Lyle Bento to a problematic air conditioning system at Candente.
Still, both restaurants have been successful enough that Sambrooks acknowledges he plans to turn his attention soon to Pi Pizza, which he plans to rebrand as DoBro’s Pizza and Sandwich. Sandler asks about opening additional locations of Candente, and Sambrooks acknowledges it's something he's thinking about.
"The Pit Room I don't think could be recreated. It's got that location with the bar next to it and the big patio. 1751 is our high-end flagship; you want that to be a destination," Sambrooks says.
"When we looked at Candente, we think that could translate to several different neighborhoods within the loop and maybe, potentially beyond that one day. I think it would be the concept we would choose to expand if possible, if the right opportunity came along."
Prior to the interview, Sandler and co-hosts Becky Masson and Matt Harris discuss the news of the week. Their topics include: Asian smokehouse Loro opening in The Heights; International Smoke closing in CityCentre; the owners of Doris Metropolitan's plans to open a modern Israeli restaurant in Rice Village; and chef Richard Knight's departure from Atlas Diner at Bravery Chef Hall.
In the restaurants of the week segment, they discuss visits to three establishments that opened recently in and near The Heights: Preslee's Southern Good Eatery, Handies Douzo, and Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams.