What's Eric Eating Episode 282
Meet the CEO of Montrose's hottest gluten-free restaurant, plus Houston's hottest food news
On this week's episode of "What's Eric Eating," Dan Mesches joins CultureMap food editor Eric Sandler to discuss Picnik, the Austin-based restaurant known for its allergy-friendly menu. The restaurant recently opened its first Houston location in the Montrose Collective mixed-use development.
The conversation begins with Mesches discussing the career path that led him to become the CEO of cupcake bakery Sprinkles and then to add president and CEO of Picnik to his responsibilities. He talks about the current state of Sprinkles, including its ability to remain popular after the cupcake trend faded away.
From there, they turn to Picnik. Originally opened as a food truck, it now operates two full service restaurants in Austin and the new Houston outpost. All of the restaurant's dishes are gluten-free, but Mesches sees its mission more broadly.
"Sometimes people talk about Picnik as 'well, I have a special diet.' Really, what we are is great food that happens to be good for you. You'll want to come there no matter how you eat," Mesches says. "Yes, it's healthy comfort food. We will tell you we're refined sugar free . . . We'll tell you we're seed oil free . . . We happen to be gluten-free . . . All those to me are below the line. It's really about being thoughtful, sourced really well, and just enjoying the food."
Prior to the interview, Sandler and co-host Felice Sloan discuss the news of the week. Their topics include: Atlas Restaurant Group's decision to close its seafood restaurant Ouzo Bay and replace it with a new, still unnamed concept; Concurra Italian Bites becoming Dante's River Oaks; and the closure of New York Eatery in Bellaire.
In the restaurant of the week segment, Sandler and Sloan share their thoughts on Graffiti Raw, the California-inspired concept from restaurateur Grant Cooper. Listen to the full episode to hear how it fits in with sister concepts such as Flora, Gratify, and Coppa.
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