Chris Shepherd announces new restaurants, closures for Underbelly Hospitality – Houston Business Journal – Philadelphia Business Journal






Chris Shepherd is adding two new restaurants to Houston while continuing to close and alter some of his current concepts.
The Underbelly Hospitality chef and owner will close UB Preserv — in addition to the previously announced Hay Merchant closure — but plans to open two new concepts, Everlong Bar & Hideaway and Pastore. These are in addition to the upcoming opening of Underbelly Burger and the Georgia James move.
To start, the fast-casual concept Underbelly Burger will open in the Houston Farmers Market in December.
Around the same time, UB Preserv in Montrose will close Dec. 23 after less than four years in operation. UB Preserv chef Nick Wong will lead Georgia James Tavern as executive chef, and UB Preserv sous chef/operations manager Leila Frink will move to the downtown tavern as well. Previously, Matthew “Tally” Coburn was running the Georgia James Tavern kitchen as chef de cuisine when the casual steakhouse spinoff opened in Market Square Tower in July. UB Preserv general manager Tara MacMullen will aid in the transition before starting her role with a new concept. More refined food is expected at the tavern to match the atmosphere.
“UB Preserv was the Underbelly Hospitality restaurant hardest hit by Covid-19, and there were plans to redesign and potentially rebrand to better showcase the vision of Nick and his team,” an Underbelly Hospitality announcement states. “However, an opportunity presented itself with an opening at the helm of Georgia James Tavern.”
Everlong Bar & Hideaway, named after a Foo Fighters song (a Chris Shepherd favorite), will open in the UB Preserv location at 1609 Westheimer in January. The name is also a play on the Underbelly Hospitality team figuring out which concepts will remain “everlong,” according to the announcement. The bar will focus on cocktails and offer “a small but mighty wine list” along with canned and bottled beers. Westin Galleymore will create a cocktail program with favorites from the ‘80s and ‘90s, such as mojitos, Old Fashioned highballs, Cosmopolitans and even Long Island Iced Tea. Some Hay Merchant dishes will cross over, including the Korean braised goat and dumplings and the muffuletta, but there will also be a new burger and shareable plates. Lucas McKinney, formerly sous chef at Hay Merchant, will be chef de cuisine at Everlong. Some Hay Merchant events, such as trivia night, will also join Everlong. Kyle Rahe and Lisa McCoy will serve as managers.
“The outpouring of love and sadness about Hay Merchant’s closing reinforced the desire for a good bar with great food in Montrose,” the announcement states.
Hat Merchant will close in January. Also that month, Wild Oats will open in the Houston Farmers Market, and One Fifth Red Sauce Italian will end.
The Georgia James team will move over to One Fifth to revive the rotating-concept restaurant’s original steakhouse iteration, this time named Georgia James at One Fifth. That move is temporary until the new Georgia James location opens in Regent Square, a mixed-use development under construction at West Dallas and Dunlavy streets. Georgia James was originally meant to open in Regent Square in January 2022, but due to delays with city of Houston permitting, the opening has been moved back to March.
Finally, by late spring 2022, Pastore will also open at Regent Square. Italian for “shepherd,” Pastore will serve Italian-American food with an emphasis on “red sauce.” Amanda Medsger is designing the interior as a “whimsical ode to traditional family-style Italian-American dining” inspired by architect Carlo Scarpa and others. MacMullen will serve as general manager.
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