Photo courtesy of the Houston Texans

Tributes from across the state — and nation — are pouring in as the sports world reacts to the death of former Houston Texans team president Jamey Rootes. The man credited with the Texans’ off-field success from 2002 to 2020 passed away on Sunday, August 21 in Houston after a battle with mental health issues at age 56, according to his wife Melissa Wildgen Rootes, who first shared the news via Facebook.

In the post, Melissa Rootes cited her husband’s tenure as Texans president and added that he was “best known for his devotion to his family and friends.” She also called him “a dedicated Houstonian who loved his city and touched so many lives through his professional, academic, and philanthropic work.” And in a poignant plea, she urged those “thinking about suicide or experiencing a health crisis” to call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255).

Well known in Houston as a charismatic, passionate innovator with a relentless commitment to the fan experience and an uncanny ability to build the business side of the team from ground up, Rootes’ reputation far transcended Bayou City borders.

From Dallas, with love
“The entire Jones Family — the Dallas Cowboys Family — all grieve the loss of Jamey,” Dallas Cowboys executive vice president and chief sales and marketing officer Jerry Jones, Jr., tells CultureMap exclusively. “We send all of our love and support to his wife Melissa, their two children, and the entire Houston Texans organization. Jamey was an incredible professional and a dear friend, but most importantly, a dedicated husband and father.”

That a Jones family member stopped in the middle of a busy training camp to send a heartfelt message about Rootes speaks to his deep connections in pro football circles. Rootes worked especially closely with the Cowboys during Hurricane Harvey; the Cowboys offered aid and facilities as the Texans literally and figuratively navigated the storm. Rootes and Texans owner Robert “Bob” McNair also worked with the Cowboys in The Governor’s Cup, the highly anticipated showdown between Texas’ two biggest football teams.

“Jamey had a tremendous impact not only on the NFL as a whole,” Jones Jr. continues, “but specifically to the Dallas Cowboys through numerous meetings, events, and talks with our organization over the years. As a confidant and a colleague, he impacted many of the marketing and business ideas we, the Jones Family, implemented. He will be dearly missed.”

Texans CEO and chairman Cal McNair said he, his wife Hannah, and the Texans are “heartbroken” at the loss of their friend of two decades when they addressed the media on Tuesday, August 23:

It’s a sad day for us here at the Texans. We’re really heartbroken. The loss of our friend, Jamey Rootes, our 20-year-old friendship. Jamey led the Houston Texans’ business department at a very high level for two decades. He was also really involved with Houston and giving back and one of his favorites was United Way. So, he’ll be missed by his Texans family. He’ll be missed by the Houston community, and our sincere condolences go to his family — his wife, Melissa, his kids — as we all work through a difficult time.

A true “visionary”
When Bob McNair won the rights to an NFL franchise and founded the Texans in 1999, he tapped Rootes, a marketing hot shot, to be the team’s first president. While the Texans evaluated first-overall draft picks and hired coaching staff on the field, Rootes oversaw the fan experience, from ultra-swank suites to the endzone and parking lots on game day.

From the time the team played its inaugural game in 2002 through the end of Rootes’ tenure in 2020 (he officially retired in 2021), the Texans boasted 185 consecutive sellouts.

“One of the easiest ways that I would always categorize Jamey is as a visionary,” Kevin Cooper, the former head of communications for the Texans, tells CultureMap. “He had a vision of what he wanted. He had a vision of life and how to get there.”

That vision, Cooper notes, was pivotal in creating one of the most enduring fan experiences in team history. “Tailgating was so important to Jamey because he listened to the fans,” Cooper recalls. “He asked, ‘What do you guys want?’ Tailgating was one thing that they didn’t have, especially not with the prior organization. So Jamey said, ‘Okay, that’s going to be a priority—that’s what we're going to do.” Since then, the stadium parking lots have been jam-packed with tailgaters, some who arrive as early as 5 am.

“It’s all a credit to him,” Cooper continues. “When it came to doing big time deals, you know, stadium deals, parking lot deals, a full stadium, a commitment to traffic flows, or creating that perfect fan experience — that was all Jamey.”

Texas-sized value
Despite not ever venturing close to a Super Bowl, the Texans have been a high-value team. Cooper again cites Rootes for that success.

“One of the things that Mr. McNair used to always talk about was valuation. When these valuations of sports organizations started coming out, the Texans were always in the top five and top 10 — in the world. And it’s just like, how’s that getting done? We’re not the Cowboys — I mean, we’re not America’s team. We’re not the Patriots. We don’t have the history of the New York Giants or the Washington organization. But there we were. Mr. McNair put a lot of faith in Jamey, and Jamey delivered.”

(Most recently, Forbes ranked the Texans No. 11 in its ranking of most valuable NFL teams.)

Beyond football
While certainly a pro football ops guru, Rootes also had a keen eye for the first football—soccer. Though Rootes had a short stint with the Houston Dynamo FC as CEO, Cooper notes that Rootes deserves credit for bringing the biggest sporting event in the world to our city.

“One of the biggest things that we have in the city of Houston, because of Jamey, is this love of soccer. Jamey learned what the Houston market was, he sold it, and he did a very good job of it. Now, we have the World Cup coming here, and he started that vision back in 2003. By the time that it gets here, it will be 23 years in the making. That’s 23 years of something that this guy just had a real vision around.”

Possessing a vision for charity as well, Rootes joined his favorite outside nonprofit, the United Way, in raising more than $50 million for Hurricane Harvey relief in 2017. He also directed the Houston Texans Foundation, which has raised some $36 million for various causes. He co-chaired the Greater Houston COVID-19 Recovery Fund, which raised more than $17 million for those in need during and after the pandemic. “Jamey was all about the city,” says Cooper. “He worked with business leaders, city leaders, he taught classes — everything was a benefit to the city.”

Forever a Texan
“I don’t think there are any words to describe what Jamey meant to the Houston Texans,” says ESPN 97.5 FM morning host John Granato. “He was instrumental in all their successes over his 20-plus years there, but he was also a great, great person. I am deeply sorry for his family and loved ones. He will be sorely missed.”

That sentiment is echoed by David Gow, CEO of Gow Media (which also owns ESPN 97.5 FM, CultureMap, InnovationMap, and SportsMap). “Jamey was a good friend to me and to many,” says Gow. “Beyond his remarkable leadership of the Texans, Jamey cared deeply for the community. He worked tirelessly on great causes and made a mark on the lives of many. We will miss him.”

Former Houston Astros team president Reid Ryan, who was traveling when contacted by CultureMap for this story and was unable to comment, promptly pointed us to his thoughtful Twitter post honoring Rootes.

“When I came to the Astros in 2013,” Ryan wrote, “Jamey Rootes was one of the first people to welcome me. His ‘can do’ attitude was infectious. He loved Houston and worked hard to promote the city. I valued his opinion and he pushed me to be better. Prayers for Melissa and his family.”

Raise one to Jamey
Beyond vision, Cooper points to another key trait Rootes possessed: dedication. “Jamey had such an admiration for Bob McNair,” he says. “You know, he really saw him as one of the biggest male influences in his life, and he always wanted to make sure Bob’s organization was taken care of — both inside and out.”

Cooper also chuckles when imagining Rootes’ reaction to the lavish praise being heaped on him. “Jamey didn’t want attention for himself, he wanted results. It was all about getting the job done. I mean, his daughter was born during the Super Bowl. But, he made sure he dedicated himself to the Super Bowl here — and to his family.”

The often stoic and straight-talking Cooper pauses when asked how fans can best pay tribute to the man who most assuredly deserves a spot on the Texans’ Mount Rushmore — and for building Houston’s pro football infrastructure.

“You know what, Jamey was all about the fans,” says Cooper. “When you go out to the Texans tailgate, just make sure and think of him when you’re there. Have a good time as a fan— that’s what Jamey was all about.”

Photo courtesy of the Houston Texans

Houston Texans host free Draft Day bash for fans at Miller Outdoor Theatre

with the third pick in the 2022 nfl draft...

The recent hiring of NFL all-around good guy Lovie Smith as head coach and a slew of early draft picks this year — including No. 3 overall — has created a much-needed buzz among often beleaguered Houston Texans fans.

To that end, the team is looking to the future, and few events generate the kind of excitement as the NFL Draft, which takes place at 7 pm Thursday, April 28 in Las Vegas. Texans fans who don’t make it to Sin City can celebrate at the massive, free, 2022 Draft Party the same day, which moves from NRG Stadium to Miller Outdoor Theatre (6000 Hermann Park Dr.) in Hermann Park.

Activities at a special Fan Zone kick off at 3 pm, giving attendees plenty of time before the draft starts at 7 pm. (Barring trades, the Texans should pick before 8 pm.)
Standout Draft Party fun includes, per the Texans:

  • Live Zoom calls from head coach Smith and Texans draft picks.
  • Special appearances by current Texans players.
  • Numerous food and beverage options.
  • A live DJ, giveaways, photo opportunities and Draft merchandise.
  • A Fan Zone complete with activities for the whole family.
  • NFL Network’s coverage of the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft will be shown on the main stage. (Look for Gow Media/ESPN 95. FM star Lance Zierlein, a longtime NFL Network draft guru.)

Fans are encouraged to arrive early and spread out on the Miller Outdoor Theatre lawn. Limited seating is available for Season Ticket, Club and Texans LUXE Members, and Corporate Partners on a first come, first-served basis, the team notes.

Guests can also upgrade with a Red Zone seat, proceeds of the purchase benefit the Houston Texans Foundation.

Parking is free and available in parking lots at and around Hermann Park, though ridesharing and METRORail, which stops at Miller Outdoor Theatre, are encouraged.

Many current mock drafts have the Texans selecting an elite pass rusher or star LSU cornerback Derek Stingley, Jr. with the No. 3 pick — either would be a good fit for coach Smith’s defensive approach. In a season of reloading, the team boasts 11 draft picks, with five picks in the top 80 overall.

By the numbers, and with some sound selections and luck, it should make for quite the haul for the embattled team that went 4-13 in 2021.

“We’re so excited to bring the Draft Party back in a new way this year,” said Houston Texans president Greg Grissom in a statement. “Miller Outdoor Theatre is an iconic venue that will serve as the destination for Texans fans of all ages on the first night of the draft as we welcome new Texans to Houston together.”

Photo by Kathryn Krueger

Legendary Houston Chronicle sportswriter John McClain retires after storied, 47-year career

farewell, general

Earl Campbell bulldozing and crushing hapless opponents in the mid-’80s. Warren Moon leading the Houston Oilers in a playoff rout against the Buffalo Bills — only to lose in a historic and heart-wrenching comeback (or choke, as it’s otherwise known). The Oilers’ move to Tennessee. The continuous drama surrounding the Houston Texans.

Houston Chronicle columnist, NFL writer, and radio and TV personality John McClain — known here as “The General” — has covered it all over 47 years in the Bayou City. If it was pro pigskin, McClain had a hot take. (He once even ate a Chronicle newspaper to fulfill a pledge he made in a column that he would do so if the Texans picked Jadeveon Clowney with the No. 1 pick in the NFL Draft.)

But now, the esteemed scribe who boasts a plaque in the Pro Football Hall of Fame is closing his laptop after nearly half a century of covering football for the city’s daily newspaper — and 51 years as a sportswriter.

In his last piece for the Chronicle on March 31, a long, thoughtful column, McClain reflects on his decades covering the original Houston Aeros hockey team, the Oilers, and Texans (he plans to author a top-10 list on Sunday, April 3). He recounts his early days as a freshman at McLennan Community College in 1971 working Friday night football.

He would then move to Waco and the Waco Tribune Herald from 1973 to 1976, before taking his initial post with the Chronicle to cover the original Houston Aeros (then of the World Hockey Association).

McClain lists a host of players, owners, coaches, front office and media and public relations professionals, and friends who helped him along his storied career, including SportsMap Radio radio host and SportsMap founding editor Fred Faour, who served as McClain’s editor at the Chronicle.

“‘Legend’ doesn’t even begin to describe John McClain,” Faour tells CultureMap. “I first met him when he started at the Chronicle 47 years ago and I was a brat kid my dad had to bring to work. John helped me learn the trade as a teenager, and was always kind and supportive of everything I did as I grew in the business. It was my greatest honor to be his’“boss’ my final few years at the Chronicle — I always joked John never had or needed a boss, but I got to pretend. He is a great reporter, a better person, and an amazing friend. I am glad I will still hear him on the radio and hope this gives him time for the occasional lunch — Mexican food, of course.”

Even Faour’s father gets some love in McClain’s column. “Fred Faour Sr., ‘Big Fred,’ was an unbelievable character with a great sense of news judgment who helped a snot-nosed, 24-year-old sportswriter from Waco make the transition to the Chronicle,” McClain recalls. “I’ve never been around a better copy editor or headline writer. He knew how to get the best out of our writers.”

“John told the story of Houston football,” Kevin Cooper, founder and CEO of FanEase and former communications director for the Texans, tells CultureMap. “He narrated the love affair this city had with its sport. The heartbreak and triumph, he reported it all. He grew from a writer to a radio personality to a major social media contributor. He met his audience where they were and did his job: deliver the news. Congrats to him and his family on one of the greatest runs in journalism in NFL history.”

What’s next for The General? He’ll be inducted to the Texas Sports Hall of Fame in May and will continue his work on myriad sports radio channels. His fans can follow him on Twitter as he promises to track the Texans, Houston Astros, and Chronicle writers, and tweet about them.

And with that, The General bids farewell in his piece, with a simple, “I’ll see you when I see you.”

Danny Amendola/Instagram

Houston Texans star establishes sleek Austin abode as his home turf

Big score

Houston Texans player Danny Amendola appears to have slipped under the radar as a new Austin-area resident, just as he has slipped past so many defenders on the football field.

The 35-year-old Amendola recently gave Architectural Digest an exclusive tour of his 4,768-square-foot home on a 1-acre lot along Red Bud Trail in West Lake Hills. Until the Architectural Digest article appeared, many fans likely were unaware that the pro athlete and model was living in Capital City.

Realtor.com lists the value of the four-bedroom, three-and-a-half-bathroom property at more than $3.2 million. Property records show Amendola bought it in June. In 2017, the property hit the market at $2.1 million.

Architectural Digest delves into great detail, of course, about Amendola’s approach to designing the ranch-style home, which was built in 1968. The aesthetic throws off a midcentury-modern vibe blended with modern-day elements.

“What I wanted to do here was to create depth and weight with the various textures we used. There’s a lot of steel on the walls in the back and heavy tile for some of the living room to add more warmth, to make it feel grounded, defined,” Amendola explains.

Austin architect Tray Toungate, Austin interior designer Christina Canales, and real estate agent/friend Lisa Sherwood collaborated with Amendola on the home renovation. The updated home features pieces of furniture and art that Amendola has collected throughout his NFL career.

“Parts of the home include art that I held for years and years,” he says, “and waited to frame before putting them [on] a specific wall of a specific home.”

While the NFL wide receiver may be new to the Austin area, he’s certainly not new to Texas. Born and raised in The Woodlands, he played college football at Texas Tech University.

In 2008, he signed with the Dallas Cowboys as a free agent but never saw time on the field beyond the practice squad. The same thing happened the following year with the Philadelphia Eagles. But later in 2009, he finally played in a regular-season NFL game after joining the St. Louis Rams. His stretch with the Rams ended in 2012.

Amendola spent the longest span of his NFL career (2013 to 2017) with the New England Patriots, when Tom Brady still quarterbacked the team. He won two Super Bowl rings as a Patriot. Amendola then did short stints with the Miami Dolphins and Detroit Lions before inking a one-year, $2.5 million contract with the Texans in September.

Four years before coming to the Texans, Amendola became the first NFL player to sign with Ford Models, one of the world’s top modeling agencies. Reporting on the Ford Models deal in 2017, People.com drooled that the gig cemented Amendola’s “hot athlete status.”

By the way, where does Amendola keep his NFL- and model-caliber body in shape? Not at home, as it turns out. His West Lake Hills abode lacks an exercise room.

“I’ve always tried to separate my exercise from my home life,” Amendola says. “I don’t want to go into the weight room feeling lazy and lethargic in my own house and get a mediocre workout in. When I’m at home, it’s my time to relax and be with friends and family. And whenever I go to the gym, I know it’s business.”

The Texans player now calls Austin home.

Danny Amendola/Instagram
The Texans player now calls Austin home.
Photo via Realtor.com

Former Houston Texans star tosses his Memorial mansion onto market for $8.45 million

mario's mansion

In what seems eons ago, the Houston Texans were a competitive team and playoff contender.

In those bygone days, the only controversy surrounding the team was the drafting of defensive end Mario Williams over our hometown high school hero and UT legend, Vince Young. (Let’s not even get started on then-USC star, Reggie Bush).

As fans know, Williams was selected No. 1 overall by the Texans in 2006. He quickly signed a six-year, $54 million contract and to celebrate, he nabbed a swanky manse in Memorial, which is now on sale for $8.45 million. Williams’ home on 701 W Friar Tuck Ln. is listed by Krista Mcgowen of Nextgen Real Estate Properties.

Boasting some 1.42 total acres and 13,000 feet of living space, Williams’s home features five bedrooms, five bathrooms, and five half-bathrooms. Dramatic staircases, vaulted ceilings, and exposed, beamed ceilings, and floor-to-ceiling windows can be found inside.

A Mediterranean theme runs throughout the home with a mix of Old World charm and modern amenities. (The kitchen features state-of-the art appliances and is adorned with travertine and marble.)

A formal living room has a fireplace and built-ins; a separate formal dining room is beset with chandeliers. Also included is an office, a bar, a climate-controlled wine room, and a home theater with tiered seating.

In keeping with a pro athlete’s estate, a billiard-room is decorated with Williams’ career memorabilia. (As Realtor.com points out, the letter “W” is emblazoned on the floor of the bathroom.)

Vain new homeowners will appreciate the 360-degree mirrors in the primary bedroom’s all-white dressing room (it also features custom closets and a chandelier). Upstairs allows for a self-contained apartment for visitors, mothers-in-law, or especially private guests.

Home to many a “star-studded party,” per the listing, the estate also has a resort-style pool (we’re guessing many a soiree ended up there) with a swim-up bar, waterfalls, Jacuzzi, slide, and fire features. A nine-car garage is perfect for the car-collecting type.

This isn’t the only famous Houston athlete named Mario whose home is on the market. Houston Rockets fan favorite Mario Elie also recently listed his Piney Point home.

Mario Williams, the Texasns' former No. 1 pick, has listed his home for $8.45 million.

Photo via Realtor.com
Mario Williams, the Texasns' former No. 1 pick, has listed his home for $8.45 million.
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CultureMap Emails are Awesome

Iconic Austin blues club brings the show to fans with new indie livestreaming platform

Live on Live

If legendary Austin blues club Antone’s is your vibe, but the drive to Capital City isn't, you’re in luck. Antone’s Nightclub launched a new service for livestreaming its shows in November.

Kicking off with New Orleans-based funk and jam band Dumpstaphunk, for their special “Phunksgiving” show last month with Michael Hale Trio, the full lineup is delineated on the Antone’s website. Specifics were still loose before the launch, allowing the famous blues club to call the shots. The partner agency that created the streaming service, 3rd + Lamar, created the system to give Antone’s as much freedom as possible.

"Partnering with Antone's to build their livestreaming platform and produce each of their shows is an incredible opportunity for 3rd + Lamar," said the agency’s co-founder Nick Schenck in a press release. "The amazing talent that performs at Antone's – and their fans worldwide – deserve best-in-class live production quality, and we're thrilled to play a part in this operation."

Not that Antone’s needed to stand out more in the music industry (the nearly 50-year-old venue has always been one of the best places to see both local and national talent), but this achievement places it among relatively few venues across the country, especially those that operate their system independently.

The intimate Antone's shows are filmed by four Blackmagic 4K cinema cameras on tracks overhead, which ensure that the whole space is easily visible without having camera operators amid the audience.

“We did over 430 individually ticketed shows in 2019 and we felt like we were bursting at the seams,” said Antone’s owner Will Bridges. “Then when livestreams became more prominent during the pandemic we realized, this is our opportunity to take Antone’s outside of our four walls. … [W]e see people in the comment threads all the time saying ‘If I could only be teleported to Antone’s!’ Well now they can.”

The release emphasizes that the system means Antone’s “fully retain[s] ownership of their content, which can then be utilized at their discretion.” It also calls the service “an add-on option for all artists performing at Antone’s,” positioning the service as not just an audience luxury but a performer’s low-cost marketing tool. Suddenly, artists playing at Antone’s are afforded a choice without needing to be invited to record or pay an independent video team, while reaching even more viewers with no extra time spent advertising.

“Our ultimate goal is to make these amazing musical experiences accessible to everyone. Life is busy, but we want to give everyone the opportunity to participate no matter where they are or what they have going on,” said Bridges. “We want to make livestreams from Antone’s totally commonplace. When we announce our upcoming shows, fans have two options: watch it at the club our watch it at home.”

Livestreams are at antonesnightclub.com, and links also appear with each applicable event across the site. Prices are listed on the website, and livestreams start 10-20 minutes before each show.

Alt-rock legends Red Hot Chili Peppers heading to Houston for 2023 North American tour

one hot minute

One of alternative rock's most pioneering and enduring acts is headed to Houston to close out a highly anticipated North American tour next year. Red Hot Chili Peppers will play Minute Maid Park on Thursday, May 25, 2023 as part of a North American trek that kicks off in Vancouver, British Columbia on March 29.

Houston lands the honor of the closeout city for the North American tour (the band will also play a slew of dates in Europe). Effortlessly hip, celeb-fave modern rock band The Strokes will support the Chili Peppers, along with the talented bassist-vocalist Thundercat.

Tickets go on sale this week at 10 am Friday, December 9 online.

Houston fans who can't get enough can also catch the Chili Peppers when they hit The Alamodome in San Antonio on Wednesday, May 17 — the only other Texas date.

Aside from The Strokes and Thundercat, supporting acts along the way include Iggy Pop, The Roots, The Mars Volta, St. Vincent, City and Colour, and King Princess.

Touring in support of their two No. 1 studio albums released in 2022, Unlimited Love and Return of the Dream Canteen, the Chili Peppers have been played sold-out shows in London, Paris, Los Angeles, and more with major names such as Notable artists such as A$AP Rocky, Anderson.Paak, Beck, and HAIM.

The first rock band in 17 years to score two No. 1 albums in one year, the band has been red hot on the Billboard charts and at the MTV Video Music Awards, where they received the Global Icon Award and brought the house down with a performance of the No. 1 single “Black Summer,'' which also won the award for Best Rock Video.

Fronted by the impossibly chiseled and ageless (he's 60!) Anthony Kiedis, the Chili Peppers formed in 1983. Unabashedly proud of their LA roots, the band burst onto the scene with early singles such as "Higher Ground" and "Give It Away," both showcases of bassist Flea's slappin', funk-fueled basslines.

Throughout the peak of alternative music in the '90s, the band saw tragedy, personnel changes at guitar, and reinventions — Kiedes' rap-singing, Flea's bass grooves, and singalong choruses all constants over the decades.

While many '90s alt-rock acts fizzled, the Chili Peppers stayed relevant; the band boasts two anthemic singles with more than 1 billion streams — "Californication" and "Under the Bridge" — and more than 25 million followers on Spotify.

Expect this show to be packed with Gen Xers and new fans for what promises to be one hot minute.

Red Hot Chili Peppers 2023 tour dates:

  • Wednesday, March 29 – Vancouver – BC Place
  • Saturday, April 1 – Las Vegas – Allegiant Stadium
  • Thursday, April 6 – Fargo, North Dakota – FargoDome
  • Saturday, April 8 – Minneapolis – US Bank Stadium
  • Friday, April 14 – Syracuse, New York – JMA Wireless Dome
  • Friday, May 12 – San Diego – Snap Dragon Stadium
  • Sunday, May 14 – Phoenix – State Farm Stadium
  • Wednesday, May 17 – San Antonio – Alamodome
  • Friday, May 19 – Gulf Shores, Alabama – Hangout Music Festival
  • Thursday, May 25 – Houston – Minute Maid Park

Fan-favorite, wood-fired Houston pizzeria quietly opens in the Heights

enough (pizza) to love

A popular Houston pizzeria has opened its second location in the Heights. The Gypsy Poet has begun a quiet soft opening in the former Fegen’s space at 1050 Studewood St.

Since its 2019 debut in Midtown, the Gypsy Poet has earned a devoted following for its wood-fired pizzas. The restaurant’s personal-sized, 13-inch pizzas exist somewhere on the spectrum between traditional Neapolitan and classic New York — too crispy for the Italians but not quite foldable like an East Coast slice. Options include a classic Margherita and the signature Fancy Backpacker, which is topped with prosciutto, truffle oil, and arugula.

Part of the restaurant’s appeal stems from its friendly service and easy going atmosphere. It regularly hosts informal musical performances and other artistic happenings.

Taken together, Gypsy Poet has earned legions on fans. Yelp users ranked it as Texas’s second best restaurant in 2021. More recently, Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy awarded it a high 7.8 rating during a pizza review.

The restaurant opens at a time of transition for pizzerias in the Heights. Dallas-based Neapolitan restaurant Cane Rosso closed last year, and suburban favorite Crust Pizza Co. opened this summer in the former Mellow Mushroom space at N. Shepherd and 20th.

The Heights location of Gypsy Poet will be open Tuesday-Thursday from 5-9 pm; Friday from 12-2 pm and 5-10 pm; Saturday 2-10 pm; and Sunday 2-9 pm.