heights burger favorite shutters
Creative Heights burger joint quietly shutters after more than a decade
One of the Inner Loop’s favorite burger joints has served its last meal. Hubcap Grill has closed its Heights-area location on 19th Street, owner Ricky Craig tells CultureMap.
Hubcap’s locations in Pearland, Galveston, and George Bush Intercontinental Airport remain open and are unaffected by the closure of 19th Street. Employees of the Heights location will be transferring to the Pearland location and have been given a raise to compensate them for their longer commute, Craig adds.
Known for its creative burgers — such as the Philly Cheesesteak Burger and the peanut butter-and-banana-topped Sticky Monkey Burger — and fresh cut, twice-fries french fries, Hubcap has been a staple on 19th Street for more than a decade. Building upon the success of Hubcap’s original downtown location that closed in 2019, Hubcap Heights featured a casual beer garden atmosphere and a well-stocked jukebox.
“I didn’t want to close the doors, but it was one of those things,” Craig says. “I couldn’t buy the property.”
According to Craig, the land at 1133 W. 19th St. is part of a larger parcel that’s being sold for a new residential development. Hubcap has been on a month-to-month lease for the last several months while the landlord fielded offered for the property. Craig says he could have stayed open for a few more months, but he elected to close in order to focus on building his new location in Santa Fe (12405 FM 1764) that will open later this year.
Elements of both the Pearland and Galveston locations will be part of Santa Fe, including having a full bar, TVs for sports, and an expanded menu that includes appetizers such as fried pickles and jalapeno hush puppies. In addition, his plans for Santa Fe include weekly specials like steak night and taco Tuesday as well as a stage for live music. Since he’s purchased the property, he feels good about investing in it for the long term.
On the other hand, Craig’s inability to find an affordable option anywhere inside the loop means that Hubcap fans will have to drive to Pearland to satisfy a craving for a Hubcap Decker burger and Buffalo fries.
“I’ve looked in the Heights and Montrose. I’ve looked for months upon months,” he says. “You can find places, but once you put the numbers together I don’t see how any restaurant can make it due to the high rent . . . I don’t see myself paying $8,000 to $14,000 a month in rent.”
A glimmer of hope exists for Hubcap’s return to central Houston. Craig says he wants to begin franchising Hubcap this year. Perhaps the right franchisee will feel more comfortable with the costs of operating inside the loop than Craig does. Still, it will take a special person who’s fully committed to earn Craig’s approval.
“We’ve had people reach out to us,” he says. “I want the right person, an owner operator. Not someone who wants it as investment.”