Ellis, along with partners Lance Fegen, Carl Eaves and Will Davis, recently revealed that he has an additional Houston venture in the works: Surfing Cowboys in Garden Oaks.
We say additional because, in the next few months, Ellis also plans to finish up a project in downtown Austin (at the corner of 5th Street and Pressler, to be exact) in addition breaking ground on Lee’s Fried Chicken & Donuts and a second outpost of Liberty Kitchen.
“We’re trying to cater a bit to the neighborhood. With Garden Oaks, Oak Grove and Timbergrove right there, there’s lots of young couples with kids."
Last week, Ellis and crew closed on the property at Ella Blvd. and West 34th street that previously housed That Pizza Place on Ella. But according to Ellis, the concept was developed long before a friend tipped them off to the location.
“I’m coming up with names all the time,” Ellis tells CultureMap. “Then, I tell Lance what I want to do, what I want the food to be. He’s already got menus done for places we haven’t even opened yet.”
The first half of the Surfing Cowboy name comes from Ellis’s involvement in the surfing industry in the 1970s and '80s, as well as Will and Lance’s constant travels in search of good waves — whenever they don’t have restaurants to open, of course. “Cowboys” is derived from the restaurant’s location in the Lone Star State as well as Ellis’ thought that name simply sounds cool.
“We’re going to serve the four major food groups: Burgers, fried chicken, Mexico City style street tacos and pizza,” Ellis says. “And then one of our friends reminded us that we we’re forgetting the fifth major food group: Vodka. So we’re going to have a full bar, which of course will have a ton of craft beers.”
Surfing Cowboys' chef-driven menu will be built on the popular fried chicken and burger offerings at Liberty Kitchen and BRC, reimagined in new ways to suit the Tex-Mex Surf theme. While pizza is somewhat uncharted territory for the team — BRC only added flatbreads to the menu recently — Ellis and Fegen decided that the restaurant's pre-existing pizza oven created an opportunity that was too good to pass up.
Highlights include "the G-town" taco, which has fried oysters, vinegar slaw and avocado crema, as well as "the Surfing Cowboy" burger which features — you guessed it — fried chicken instead of a beef patty. A rough cut of the menu also indicates brunch options.
“We’re going to serve the four major food groups: Burgers, fried chicken, Mexico City style street tacos and pizza.”
The 4,500 square foot space includes what Ellis is referring to as “a huge backyard beer garden,” which features a performance stage and covered seating. Denver Courtney from local funk band The Fondue Monks will come onboard to help with booking live music and entertainment.
“We’re trying to cater a bit to the neighborhood,” Ellis says. “With Garden Oaks, Oak Grove and Timbergrove right there, there’s lots of young couples with kids, and then you also have St. Pius High School right there. So we’re trying to do something where everyone can have a good time — it’s going to be family friendly, affordable and fun.”
Ellis and this rest of his team have yet to come up with an official name for their restaurant group, although it may be necessary as the number of doors bearing their names continue to increase. “When we tried to combine our initials together awhile ago, we came up with FEED, so it may just be time to officially implement that,” Ellis jokes.
It would make sense — considering how many literal mouths they’re feeding. BRC and Liberty are always packed, and in addition to the forthcoming named concepts, Ellis hinted at an additional place on the horizon where everything on the menu will be wood-fired.
Look for Surfing Cowboys to make waves in Garden Oaks this April or May — prime time for outdoor patios, beer and tacos.