What's Eric Eating 332 and 333
Get all the Deets on this eclectic Houston healthy eating restaurant's new locale, plus hottest food news
On this week’s episode of “What’s Eric Eating,”Leaf & Grain owner Deets Hoffman joins CultureMap food editor Eric Sandler to discuss his restaurant. The restaurant has three locations with a fourth coming soon to Tanglewood/Briargrove.
Hoffman begins by explaining how, as a senior at St. John’s, he was nominated to be the most likely classmate to be CEO of a chain of sandwich shacks. Undeterred by his classmates’ trolling, he started a career in restaurant investing before opening the first Leaf & Grain in 2017.
The initial opening was so hectic that Hoffman’s family had to pitch in to help run the restaurant. Now, the restaurants run more smoothly. Sandler asks the proprietor about the biggest lesson he learned that allowed him to manage the growth.
“Our biggest learning has been people first. You can get into the restaurant business and think it’s all about food,” Hoffman says. “To a certain extent, that’s a big part of it, but if you don’t have people who care about doing it the right way or customer experience, you can’t succeed. That learning has stuck with us.”
Listen to the full episode to hear Hoffman discuss Leaf & Grain’s plans for its new location. He also shares some thoughts on the restaurant’s recent collaborations with chefs such as Nick Wong (formerly of UB Preserv), Victoria Elizondo (Cochinita & Co.), and James Beard Award winner Benchawan Jabthong Painter (Street to Kitchen).
In this week’s other episode, Sandler and co-host Mary Clarkson discuss the news of the week. They begin by discussing chef Seth Siegel-Gardner taking a new job working for restaurateur Benjy Levit. Then they share expectations for Leo’s River Oaks following its announcement that it hired chef former GJ Tavern chef Tim Reading to lead its kitchen.
In the restaurants of the week segment, Clarkson and Sandler catch up on several recent openings. First, they share thoughts on Hotel Lucine, a new boutique property in Galveston, and its “fine-ish dining” restaurant The Fancy. Next, they recount their meal at Katami, the new upscale Japanese restaurant from Kata Robata chef Manabu Horiuchi.
Next, they go back to River Oaks to share thoughts on Hudson House, the Dallas-based restaurant that recently opened next to Brasserie 19. They conclude with a quick take on Catbirds, the legendary Montrose dive bar that reopened last week.