What's Eric Eating Episode 287
Meet the good citizen behind Montrose's Aussie-styled cafe and coffee shop, plus hottest restaurant news
On this week's episode of "What's Eric Eating," Andrew Geisel joins CultureMap food editor Eric Sandler to discuss Citizens, the Australian-style cafe that recently opened its first Houston location in Montrose. The new restaurant joins Citizens' three existing locations in New York City.
The conversation begins with Geisel explaining his decision to move from Australia to New York. Ultimately, he partnered with fellow Aussie Justin Giuffrida to open the first Citizens in New York's Chelsea neighborhood. Geisel explains the differences between an Australian cafe and a traditional American coffee shop, shares how Citizens survived the pandemic, and explains why the company chose Houston for its expansion.
Sandler notes that Citizens has opened near a number of breakfast and all-day concepts, including Blacksmith, Snooze, and Picnik. He asks Geisel how he sees Citizens standing out.
It's a really important question to answer. In essence, we're comfortable for a few reasons. Going back to Australia, there's really great cafes on every corner. The idea of saturation is something we're used to. We've operated in New York. There's tremendous offerings near our New York stores.
Good competition makes you be a better business. Strong competition raises the bar. Rather than call it competition, it's inspiring. I think when you have a high concentration of really wonderful bars and restaurants in an area, it really shines a spotlight on the area. It's something you want to be part of. The important thing becomes, how can we very clearly define who we are and what our voice is? How is it different from the other players in the area?
The idea is, why would you want to come to Citizens right now? What can we do for that's unique to us that you're not going to get at those other businesses? The breakfast with really high quality table service, genuine Aussie hospitality, and a menu offering that is diverse in both coffee and food. A menu that gives you everything from fresher, lighter, healthier bites to more hearty pieces. I find that to be something I'm very proud to represent.
Prior to the interview, Sandler and co-host Mary Clarkson discuss the news of the week. Their topics include: Street to Kitchen chef Benchawan Jabthong Painter winning the James Beard Award for Best Chef: Texas; Bun B and his business partners opening a brick and mortar location of Trill Burgers; and Cocody, a new restaurant from Le Mistral veterans David Denis and Sylvain Denis that's coming to River Oaks this summer.
In the restaurants of the week segment, Sandler and Clarkson discuss their recent meals at two newly opened restaurants. First, they rave about Albi, a fine dining Mediterranean restaurant in River Oaks. Then, they consider The Chelsea, the stylish bistro in the Montrose Collective mixed-use development.