After months of speculation, food truck owner Joshua Martinez has confirmed "the worst kept secret in Houston's food scene;" he has partnered with Grand Prize owners Brad Moore and Ryan Rouse and begun construction on a ramen shop that he expects to open by March 1. Although Martinez requested the shop's address be kept confidential, he allowed Eater Houston to take photographs and learn details about the
still unnamed (Update: It's called Goro & Gun) restaurant that's poised to bring Houston into the national ramen boom.
Former Katsuya chef David Coffman will serve as executive chef; Matt Wommack has left Revival Market to work as his sous. Coffman will cook at an open kitchen with a small chef's counter, while Wommack will handle behind-the-scenes prep. Martinez will draw upon his experience in the Azuma group at both Soma and Kata Robata to stock an extensive selection of sake and soju, along with a full liquor license. He also promises that one of the beer taps will always feature 8th Wonder Brewery, a nice nod to the Eatsie Boys also making the leap from truck to brick and mortar.
The restaurant should seat approximately 65 people in a mix of banquettes, high tables and along the long bar seen in the photographs. Martinez has tried to bring back the historic building's feel by removing all of the old flooring to get down to the original tile. Also, he plans to leave the exposed brick and install lighting that feels appropriate to the space.
In terms of food, the restaurant will serve three different ramen broths to start: vegetable, miso and pork. There's also a pasta maker with locally made custom dies for making the restaurant's noodles. Martinez says he plans to keep to ethos he followed when he operated food truck The Modular. That means serving dishes he wants to, such as the truck's famous bone marrow, even if they don't strictly fit the theme.
Asked about the decision to partner with Moore and Rouse, he says there were "friends first," then partners in the effort Martinez organized to bring food truck chefs into the Grand Prize kitchen. He says that both Moore and Rouse wanted to open a space with a real restaurant and a bar, which lead them to this concept.
Finally, asked about his decision to open downtown, Martinez proclaims "I believe in downtown." He explains that as a 17 year old he started working at one of the clubs on Main Street and "fell in love." Additionally, he cites the recently opened Original OKRA Charity Saloon and upcoming cocktail bar from former Anvil/Haven/Fitzgerald's bartender Justin Burrow as proof that downtown is undergoing a renaissance.
"When it's done, I'll be very happy. I'm getting tired of not serving anything."
· The Modular [Facebook]
· Are We There Yet? Restaurants We're Excited About for 2013
· Justin Burrow Heads Downtown: New Cocktail Bar Planned for Main Street
· All Joshua Martinez Coverage on Eater Houston [-EHOU-]