It's been almost five years since Brooks Bassler opened BB's Cafe on Montrose. From that small space next to a gas station, Bassler has grown BB's into three locations based on a combination of staying open late, reasonable prices and tasty food. Recently, Bassler revealed that he'd be opening his fourth location: taking over the space on Richmond previously occupied by Cafe Laurier. Restaurateurs all over the city covet stand-alone spaces inside the loop, and Bassler intends to utilize the space to its fullest potential. He guided Eater through the space, revealing his plans both for this location and the future.
Bassler's excited about the opportunity this space represents. He points out that, in addition to a busy lunch trade from Greenway Plaza office dwellers, he hopes to capitalize on his proximity to River Oaks and West University. "When you run the demographics, it's up there in potential." Another benefit is that it's still close enough to the other locations for Bassler to check on it regularly. "This location was really appealing because of its proximity to the others. I can get to any of the restaurants in 10 to 12 minutes."
Previously, BB's has taken over functioning restaurants and made only cosmetic changes, but that's not the case this time. "It's our first from scratch project," Bassler says. Serving as his own general contractor, Bassler appreciated the "freedom and flexibility" afforded by doing a ground up remodel. As he walks into the room, Bassler notes that "we gutted the whole thing." Indeed, the walls have been stripped and the duct work looks new. Even the kitchen needed renovating, "the only thing we kept was the hood."
Inside, the 1800sq ft room will seat between 40 and 50 people, or, as Bassler says, "as many butts as we can get in here." There will also be a full bar near the entrance with a take out counter and oyster shucking station. In addition, BB's will have a newly constructed 1400sq ft patio that runs almost the entire eastern side of the building and continues to the Richmond side. The patio will allow Bassler to double the restaurant's capacity and will make BB's an especially appealing place during the height of crawfish season. The patio will feature custom made wrought iron accents that are in keeping with BB's New Orleans-themed decor.
As for the interior, Bassler leaves the decoration to his wife Maricela, because "my wife's real artsy-fartsy." The couple spent last weekend in New Orleans looking at folk art for the restaurant. Since this location is the fourth Maricela's decorated, she has developed a network of dealers who are familiar with what she wants for BB's and who save items for her. The interior will also feature five televisions, which should make BB's an appealing destination during football season.
As for the future, this location won't be the last BB's, but Bassler intends to be patient. "Let's do one profitable location at a time," he says. After the new location proves itself, Bassler is intrigued by the idea of opening in both west and north Houston. He hopes to use this location as a template for all future locations, because this location is "the first one we've been able to do it how we want to do it."
When the restaurant opens next month, diners will get the chance to decide if what Bassler wants is what they want, too.
· BB's Cafe [Official Site]