The company behind downtown Houston’s first food hall has an ambitious slate of projects lined up for 2020. The Company of Nomads, the organization behind food halls Conservatory and Bravery Chef Hall, will open three new venues and relocate a fourth.
In a letter to the company’s investors, co-owner Anh Mai outlined the plans he’s developed with his partners, Lian Pham and Shepard Ross, that will give the Company of Nomads a presence in four of Houston’s most popular neighborhoods: downtown, EaDo, near The Heights, and near the Galleria. In chronological order, they are:
- Close the current location of Prohibition and Conservatory and relocate both concepts to the space in EaDo currently occupied by Chapman and Kirby
- Open Railway Heights Market, a previously-announced project at the northern end of Washington Avenue in Lazybrook/Timbergrove
- Open Conservatory 2 in the space once occupied by Galleria-area nightclub The Roxy
- Open Hawker Asian Night Market in the former Greensheet building in Midtown
Both Conservatory and Prohibition will close after service on December 31, Mai tells CultureMap, as will Chapman & Kirby. Performances by the Midnight Dolls burlesque troupe will begin in Prohibition’s new home in EaDo within approximately two weeks. Mai estimates that Conservatory will reopen in late March or early April — depending on how long it takes to build the vendor booths — with the “full” version of Prohibition, including an all-new rooftop bar, to follow shortly thereafter.
The decision to relocate Conservatory and Prohibition stems from challenges with the current location — specifically the physical condition of the building and increased competition from other food halls in downtown — as well as the lure of the opportunity to be part of EaDo’s bustling nightlife district, Mai says. He sees an opportunity for Conservatory to become a popular dining destination both before and after people visit other establishments in the area such as Truck Yard, Pitch 25, and 8th Wonder Brewery.
From there, the Company of Nomads will turn its attention to Railway Heights Market. Construction is moving quickly on the 40,000-square-foot venue, which will eventually include a grocery store, a farmers market, a wine bar, a beer garden, a dog park, and 50 vendors selling both retail items and food. While specific vendors for the restaurant and retail spaces haven’t been announced, the grocery store will have sustainable offerings including hydroponic and “ugly” produce.
Conservatory 2 is scheduled to open in September at 5353 West Alabama, which is the same Galleria-area office building that will also be home to a second location of burger-chan and South Korean coffee shop Tom N Toms. The 12,000-square foot space will feature 11 food vendors and three bars.
Finally, the Hawker Asian Night Market is intended to expand the number of Asian-style establishments in Midtown, which is already home to a number of full service restaurants that serve cuisines from different Asian countries, including Jinya Ramen, Pho Saigon, One Dim Sum, Japanese barbecue restaurant Gyu Kaku, and Chinese barbecue restaurant Siu Lap City. The 11 vendors at the Hawker Market will include both “rooftop dim sum” and “a shanty bar alley.”
1-800-Lucky, an Asian food hall from Miami, will also open in the neighborhood at the former site of Celtic Gardens/Irish Cowboy. Mai says he’s aware of that project, but is confident that the Company of Nomad’s experience in the marketplace will allow them to distinguish Hawker Market from its competition.
All of these additions will mean that the Company of Nomads has worked with some of the city's most successful real estate developers, including Hines (Bravery), Ancorian (Conservatory), and Braun Enterprises (Conservatory 2). Inevitably, Houstonians will have to decide for themselves which of the city's food halls become dining staples and which fade away, but the Nomads seem particularly well-positioned to capitalize on the growing trend.