Crafty Montrose ice cream shop makes sweet move to the Heights

heights ice cream switcheroo

Photo by Stephanie Lam

One of Houston’s most creative ice cream shops is on the move. Craft Creamery is closing its Montrose location and heading to the Heights.

Effective immediately, Craft Creamery is now operating at Sweet Bribery, the retro-styled ice cream and sweet shop that opened in 2018. Now known as Sweet Bribery by Craft Creamery, the shop serves Craft Creamery’s signature flavors paired with Sweet Bribery’s baked goods, classic ice cream flavors, and its full selection of wine and beer.

"We have dreamed of being on a busy corner in the Heights since we started the business and knew that this was the perfect opportunity to make it come true," Craft Creamery chef and founder Steve Marques said in a statement. "We have always been a fan of Sweet Bribery and look forward to a great partnership."

The move means that Craft Creamery's original location in Montrose (1338 Westheimer Rd.) will close on Sunday, September 10.

Marques opened Craft Creamery in late 2020 after working at a number of Houston restaurants including The Burger Guys and Eunice. Using his classic French training, he’s developed a range of both traditional and more unusual flavors such as Smokey BBQ Brisket, Cacio e Pepe, Jalapeno Cornbread, and Tomato Tarragon. That creativity has also fueled a thriving wholesale business that supplies restaurants such as Potente, Local Foods, and Roost.

Craft Creamery Kim Kaase Steve MarquesChef Steve Marques with his wife and co-founder Kim Kaase.Photo by Addison Hall

At his new location, Marques will serve both Craft Creamery’s flavors as well as Sweet Bribery’s favorites such as Tahitian Vanilla, Salted Chocolate, Cookies N’ Cream, and Cinnamon Toast Crunch along with its cookies, brownies, and other sweet treats. In addition, he’ll add a selection of sorbets that can be paired with Sweet Bribery's champagne selections.

In an interview on CultureMap’s “What’s Eric Eating” podcast, Marques explained the texture he’s trying to achieve with Craft Creamery's flavors.

"Like a great piece of chocolate, you never have to chew it. The Swiss say all you should have to do is put it on your tongue, because the chocolate does the rest of the work," Marques said. "It allows it to fill your palate the appropriate way. For me, the texture has to be silky. Even in small amounts, it fills your palate, because it's not icy . . . our stuff because of the fat content just coats."

While her time making ice cream has come to an end, Sweet Bribery’s founding chef Sharon Leonard has started a cookie business. Follow her on Instagram at sharebearbakes for ordering information.

This summer has been a busy time for new ice cream shops in the Heights. Montrose favorite Milk & Sugar opened its second location there in July, and Austin favorite Amy's Ice Creams recently opened in the former Fat Cat Creamery space on 19th St. They join a number of existing options such as Cloud 10 Creamery, Honeychild's Sweet Creams, and Dolce Neve.

Photo courtesy of Handel's

Acclaimed national ice cream shop scooping out more than 140 flavors opens in Katy

handle with care

An Ohio-based ice cream brand known for its freshly made flavors has expanded its presence in the Houston area. Handel’s Homemade Ice Cream has opened its third Houston-area scoop shop in Katy.

Located in Cinco Ranch (23660 Westheimer Parkway), the almost 2,000-square-foot location serves more than 48 flavors daily, including Peach, Black Cherry, Coffee Chocolate Chip, Graham Central Station, Oree-Dough, Salty Caramel Truffle. Overall, the shop offers a roster of more than 140 flavors that vary throughout the year.

In addition to scoops, the shop offers banana splits, sundaes, milkshakes, and “hurricanes” — Handel’s term for vanilla ice cream mixed with candies such as Heath Bar, M&Ms, and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.

Handel’s comes to Texas via Ohio. Founded in 1945 by Alice Handel, it maintains her methods and recipes. That means making ice cream fresh daily — using a base supplied by the home office — and including fresh ingredients. Overall, the company has more than 100 locations across 11 states, including a significant presence in the Dallas area and two stores in Spring.

That network helped power the new store. Franchisee Matt Wiseman’s brother operates a Handel’s location in Utah. Wiseman and his wife Alexis moved to Cinco Ranch with their five children to open their location.

"I have really enjoyed the positive culture of the brand, and it's very fulfilling to see our customers leave happy after enjoying our delicious ice cream,” Alexis Wiseman said in a statement. "We take pride in the fact that every ice cream we serve is handmade, and we never compromise on the quality of our products or the experience we provide in our stores.”

Handel’s celebrates its grand opening on Thursday, August 10. The first 50 customers in line will receive free ice cream for a year. Going forward, its hours of operation will be 11 am to 10 pm daily.

The Houston area has seen a number of new ice cream shops open this summer. They include a third location of Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams in Montrose, a second location of locally owned Milk & Sugar in the Heights, and the Houston-area debut of Austin's Lick Honest Ice Creams.

Courtesy of Milk + Sugar

Cool and creative Montrose ice cream opens in the Heights this weekend with sweet deals

we all scream

A Montrose destination for creative ice cream is coming to the Heights. Milk + Sugar Creamery will open its second location this Friday, July 14.

Located near Chi’Lantro BBQ in the Heights Forum development at 1324 N. Shepherd Dr., the new Milk + Sugar provides the four-year-old ice cream shop with a new outlet for its signature ice cream flavors that come with chunky mix-ins such as brownies, cookies, or swirls. Popular options include the Sundae Funday (sweet cream ice cream with brownie chunks and fudge ripple) and the City That Never Sleeps (coffee and pretzel ice cream with chocolate flakes).

“We create flavors that you can’t find in the grocery store aisle,” owner Chou Wong tells CultureMap. “We create a full dessert in a scoop . . . We love creating flavors you didn’t think could be in a scoop of ice cream. ‘Life is too short for plain vanilla’ is what we’ve adopted as our motto.”

In addition to the core menu, 25 percent of Milk + Sugar’s offerings are seasonal specials. For July, the shop is serving one it’s calling Red, White + Blue: (red) velvet tres leches, (white) sweet cream, and (blue)berry purée.

Wong, who founded the shop in partnership with her husband Perry, adds that the couple selected the Heights based on customer demand. Simply put, they noticed that enough of their customers made the trip to Montrose to justify coming to the neighborhood. Despite consistent interest, she says they only recently felt that time for expansion had arrived.

“We’ve learned to roll with the punches and that mishaps will happen, but with a strong staff — we’ll get through it,” Wong says. “That’s when we felt ready — when the first location was filled with a great team we could trust.”

Milk + Sugar will celebrate the new location’s opening with 20-percent-off scoops and cones from 6 pm until midnight. The shop will open daily at noon after that.

Milk + Sugar ice cream cone

Courtesy of Milk + Sugar

Milk + Sugar is coming to the Heights.

Photo by Annie Ray

Favorite Austin ice cream shop makes cool Houston debut in Bellaire just in time for National Ice Cream Day

let's be honest

One of Austin’s favorite ice cream shops will make its Houston-area debut this weekend. Lick Honest Ice Creams will open in Bellaire this Sunday, July 16.

Located at 3821 Bellaire Blvd., Lick will celebrate its grand opening with free scoops from 3-5 pm. A second location is expected to open in the Autry Park mixed-use development in August (3737 Cogdell St.).

Founded in 2011 by partners Anthony Sobotik and Chad Palmatier, Licks uses locally sourced, sustainable ingredients to make its flavors. Its milk comes from grass-fed cows. None of its ice creams contain artificial colors or flavors, high fructose corn syrup, palm oil, or preservatives.

Each shop will serve Lick’s permanent menu that includes Caramel Salt Lick, Coffee with Cream, Fresh Mint & Chocolate Chunk, and Texas Sheet Cake, among others. The shop also shines with seasonal specials such as Peach Margarita, Cilantro Lime, Peach Leaf Graham Crunch, Lemonade Pound Cake, Spicy Coconut Peanut & Strawberry Swirl (vegan), and Banana Pudding (vegan).

“Our customers have been asking us for years to open a Lick scoop shop in the Houston area, and we’re so thrilled to expand our brand into two bustling areas of the city,” Sobotik said in a statement. “We're proud to offer a fresh and delicious, farm-to-scoop product to our Texas fans. We are excited to be joining the Houston community, filled with rich culture in culinary arts and an innovative food economy.”

In addition to July 16 being National Ice Cream Day, Lick is also celebrating July’s status as the Month of Giving. The company will raise money for Out Youth, a non-profit that provides a safe place for youths of all sexual orientations and gender identities. Customers who donate $20 will receive a free scoop card, and all of Lick’s shops will donate 10-percent of Sunday’s sales to the organization.

Photo courtesy of Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams

Splendid ice cream shop sweetens big Montrose grand opening with free scoops and plenty of swag

what a splendid deal

A new ice cream shop wants to give Houstonians a free treat. The city’s newest location of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams will celebrate its grand opening next Thursday, July 13 with free scoops from 7 pm - 12 am.

Located in Montrose at 1719 Westheimer Rd., the new Jeni’s joins outposts in the Heights and CityCentre. The shop features approximately two dozen flavors such as Brown Butter Almond Brittle, dairy-free Dark Chocolate Truffle, and specials such as the Pop-Tart-inspired Frosted Brown Sugar Cinnamon or the summery Strawberry Buttermilk.

Patrons may purchase their ice cream as one full scoop, two half scoops, a trio with three half scoops, or a flight of 10 half scoops. Notably, the shop does not offer sundaes, milkshakes, or other ice cream-based treats; it's all scoops all the time.

The store also sells pints to go in a wider variety than what one would encounter in a grocery store, along with swag such as T-shirts and founder Jeni Britton Bauer's James Beard Award-winning cookbook, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home.

Jeni's Splendid ice CreamsThe free scoops go from 7 pm-11 pm and the first 50 people score swag bags. Jeni's Instagram

In addition to free scoops, the first 50 people in line at Thursday’s grand opening will receive Jeni’s swag bags. Find more details at the event’s Facebook page.

The new Jeni’s joins a thriving group of local ice cream shops in Montrose, including Milk & Sugar, Craft Creamery, and SweetCup Gelato. Van Leeuwen, an ice cream shop from New York, operates a location in the nearby Montrose Collective mixed-use development.

Courtesy of Blue Bell

Texas treat titans Blue Bell and Dr Pepper float super-cool new ice cream flavor

two great tastes

Do two Texas greats taste great together? Blue Bell and Dr Pepper certainly think so.

The two iconic Texas brands have teamed up to create a new Blue Bell ice cream flavor called Dr Pepper Float. Available now in both half gallons and pints, it combines vanilla ice cream with a Dr Pepper-flavored sherbet.

“The best ice cream floats are made with Dr Pepper poured over a few scoops of Blue Bell,” Blue Bell vice president Jimmy Lawhorn asserts in a press release. “Why not put a spin on this popular treat and create our own version? The flavor of Dr Pepper and texture of the sherbet combine perfectly with the smooth vanilla ice cream. You may find yourself reaching for a soda glass instead of a bowl.”

Certainly, it’s easy to imagine taking Lawhorn’s suggestion. Not only could someone eat a scoop of Dr Pepper Float ice cream, they could also make a Dr Pepper float by pouring a can of Dr Pepper soda over some scoops of Dr Pepper Float ice cream in a tall glass.

If it isn’t immediately available in the freezer section, be patient. Blue Bell will distribute the flavor through 2024. Currently, the Brenham-based company sells more than 40 ice cream flavors in 23 states, including places as far away from Texas as Nevada, Illinois, and Virginia.

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Beyoncé brings dazzling Renaissance Tour to big screens with new concert film

big-screen bey

“The goal for this tour was to create a place where everyone is free ...and no one is judged.”

So declares Queen Bey in a just-released trailer for RENAISSANCE: A FILM BY BEYONCÉ, a new documentary and concert film coming to major movie theaters on Friday, December 1 across the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. The new film chronicles Houston-born Beyoncé's journey from concept to performance as she treks across the globe in her worldwide, 56-performance, 39-city Renaissance tour.

Houstonians are still buzzing from the two-day H-Town homecoming (read our review here) that near-capacity crowds pack NRG Stadium for the often breathtaking, three-hour shows that featured a cameo by fellow Houston-born superstar Megan Thee Stallion.

Tickets for the concert film — a joint production between Parkwood Entertainment and AMC Entertainment — are on sale now at amctheatres.com and Fandango.com. Fans can also find tickets at Cinemark, Regal, Cinepolis and Cineplex, all of which will screen the movie. Tickets will also be available at numerous movie theatre circuits in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico later this week, according to an announcement. Admission for all standard showtimes will start at $22, plus tax.

RENAISSANCE: A FILM BY BEYONCÉ is a must for any Beyhive member — as well as those who want to reminisce attending the epic shows, or those who missed her tour stops. The big-screen treatment is fitting: short of seeing the shows live, there is no better way to take in the Renaissance tour's dazzling effects, lasers, and pyrotechnics, mind-bending visuals on huge screens, unforgettable costumes (A.I.!), Megan's surprise, and of course, Queen Bey riding through the air atop a glittering Reneigh, her trusty, mirrorball, shimmering steed.

Fans can look forward to multiple showtimes daily on Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, for a minimum of four weeks, according to press materials.RENAISSANCE will also be available in IMAX (the ideal viewing) at AMC and Dolby Cinema at AMC, and other branded premium large format screens.

Kicking off atthe opening show in Stockholm, Sweden and documenting each stop to the grand finale in Kansas City, Missouri, the film captures rarely seen, behind-the-scenes moments of a Beyoncé tirelessly working and preparing and sharing tender moments with her children and family.

Meant to further articulate her “everyone is free/no one is judged” mantra, scenes will depict the more than 2.7 million fans from around the world who dressed in silver and shiny outfits, took part in her Joy Parade, and nailed the Mute Challenge at each show.

Call us biased, but we can't wait for the up-close Megan scenes and backstage action before and after she shocked NRG Stadium — and all of Beyoncé's Houston moments as the queen returned to the kingdom where it all started.


Find RENAISSANCE: A FILM BY BEYONCÉ tickets at at amctheatres.com and Fandango.com.

J.J. Watt, wife Kealia, and his family and friends ring it in at Ben Berg's swanky supper club

turned up for watt

Houston celebrated J.J. Watt’s triumphant homecoming this past weekend, as No. 99 was fittingly inducted into the Houston Texans Ring of Honor during the team’s 30-6 win Sunday, October 1 over the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Watt donned the Texans red jacket during halftime, officially joining the late Houston Texans founder/owner/CEO Robert “Bob” McNair and NFL Hall of Fame nominee (and Watt’s former teammate) Andre Johnson.

“It feels like you’re at a family reunion and it feels like I’m back with all my family in a place that feels like home and I’m just loving it,” Watt told the packed NRG Stadium. “The fans have been great, the McNairs have been great, the whole organization has been really, really great and I'm just thankful to have my whole family here. My wife and my son are here, my parents are here, my brothers are here. It’s my mom’s birthday so it all kind of culminates into a great day today.”

Texans Chairman and CEO Cal McNair placed the jacket on Watt’s mountainous shoulders as Johnson, Watt’s family, and nearly 90 former Texans players cheered him on for his induction. Adding to the memorable day, Watt’s brother T.J., currently on track to be 2023’s NFL Defensive Player of the Year at very least, served as the Steelers opposite our Justin James as coin toss team captain.

The Watts and crew ring it in

While Houston showed up and out for Watt, where did No. 99 celebrate? He and his family and friends opted for Ben Berg’s famed, swanky speakeasy supper club, Turner’s.

The Berg connection comes from Watt’s retirement announcement dinner last year, where he and some close friends and teammates celebrated at B&B Butchers. “So the Texans reached out to us and asked if we could do a dinner at Turner’s for J.J. and his family,” Berg explains to CultureMap.

Watt posted photos on Instagram with his lovely wife Kealia sitting in his lap, he and his brothers Derek and T.J., mom Connie and dad John, and their close friends at Turner’s, which Berg closed for the private celebration.

“It’s a big honor,” Berg notes. “You know, when you create these spaces, the goal is to be a memorable part of people’s lives. And so the fact that we were chosen for him to celebrate with his family, loved ones, and his closest friends — for such a huge accomplishment and huge honor — was a big responsibility.”

What’s J.J. eating?

For the big bash, Berg and company crafted a special — and beefy — steak-stacked menu, with special treats for Connie, who was celebrating her birthday — and her son’s big day. While Berg and the staff didn’t create specific themed items — like, say, the Onion Rings of Honor that Trill Burgers fried up for the weekend — “we made sure we brought over some of his favorite dishes from B&B,” says Berg.

Those dishes included the A5 Japanese Wagyu Katsu Sando, the always popular Carpet Bagger on the Half Shell, Chef Tommy’s Bacon slabs (served with blue cheese and truffle-infused honey), and more of No. 99’s favorites. Other items included buttermilk fried quail, Maine lobster gnocchi, and a feast of sides like mac and cheese casserole. Sweet finishes included a signature triple chocolate layer cake, a walnut caramel tart, and the Berry Butter Cake from B&B.

Though we’d have imagined tearing up a Porterhouse or massive ribeye, Berg reports that Watt ordered the Wagyu Filet Rossini (decadently dressed up with foie gras and spinach truffle jus) and the IYKYK classic Turner’s Wedge salad.

Speaking of orders, partiers ordered up some song requests from Turner’s resident vocalist and pianist Thomas Cokinos, who’s always on fire at the supper club, but really turned up for Watt. No. 99, an ol’ softie, requested Beatles classic “Here Comes the Sun” for Kealia (also writing “I love you” on the ticket — well played, J.J.), while others opted for tracks by country stars Zack Brown and Morgan Wallen.

Derek Watt requested Lil’ John’s “Get Low” with a shout out to his two brothers, leaving us disappointed that nobody asked for “99 Problems” in honor of J.J. (Next time, gents).

Ryan Reynolds + J.J. = goals

J.J. Watt Turner's Houston songs family friendsHey J.J., something you wanna share with the rest of us? Photo by Thomas Cokinos

Our favorite shout out? One “Ryan Reynolds” requested the bro singalong classic “You’ve Lost that Lovin’ Feeling” by the Righteous Brothers. Watt fans will recall that he buddied up with the handsome Canadian actor and soccer fan and backer when he and Kealia announced their investment in UK football side Burnley FC. (Kealia also seems to be a big fan of Reynolds, as we reported in May).

Berg made sure to let Watt and Co. enjoy themselves until late, but also made sure to stop by and greet his VIP guests. “I wanted to say hello and thank you; it was really an intimate affair for him, his family, his brothers, and really close friends,” says Berg.

“J.J. is just a super nice guy and just super down to earth,” Berg adds. “And, you know, he’s really big.”

J.J. Watt Kealia Watt Turner's Houston

J.J. Watt/Instagram

Hometown hero J.J. Watt and his wife Kealia pose at the Turner's party.

Familiar farmers market face goes wild with new dinner series at mystery Montrose venue

run wild

Houstonians will once again be able to enjoy Jane Wild’s food in air conditioned comfort. Best known for her time at Tomball’s Jane and John Dough bakery and The Dunlavy on Allen Parkway, the chef is launching a new dinner series to showcase her perspective on farm to table fare.

Titled Jane’s Dine Inn, the bi-monthly dinner series will supplement the sweet and savory baked goods Wild sells at farmers markets across the Houston. The intimate, five-course meals will be served to only 22 diners per night. Unlike outdoor markets, serving diners in a more traditional, restaurant-style setting allows Wild to serve a wider variety of dishes that meant to be eaten hot.

“Jane’s Dine Inn is a space for me to share another side of my story with food,” Wild said in a statement. “Where art has a narrative that celebrates the seasons. A place where I can honor localism in all its forms. To nurture the regeneration of connections, with each other and the land around us.”

It begins this Saturday, October 7 with a meal titled “Texas Autumn.” Wild’s menu includes pumpkin and tomato soup, apples and celery salad, roasted pork with peaches, and a persimmon shortcake.

Meals will take place at a local venue in Montrose that will only be revealed to ticket holders. They begin with pre-dinner snacks. From there, diners take their seats at communal tables ($190 per person or a complete group of six for $1,000) or at a kitchen table with a better view of the action ($225 per person). Each meal will mix both individually plated and family-style dishes. Add wine or non-alcoholic pairings for $60 per person.

Wild plans to hold similar dinners on October 21, November 4 and 18, and December 2 and 16. A monthly brunch pop-up will be announced in the future.