Sometime around April, burger enthusiasts in Kemah will have a new place to frequent. Hubcap Grill, one of Houston's most popular burger joints (and a fixture on the Eater Essential 38 map) will see a third location closer to the coast. Eater chatted with owner Ricky Craig, the self-proclaimed godfather of H-Town burgers, and asked about how this distant outpost will affect the operations at both current Houston Hubcap Grills.
Craig said he's always wanted a third location, and that he's been looking in that area for a while. The flip-flops and tee vibe in Kemah perfectly suits Hubcap and what they're about, he told Eater. "I wanted something by the water; it's so laid-back and different than being in Houston," Craig said. "It's going to be simple, a no-frills place." While the kitchen at the Kemah location is small, similar to the 19th Street Hubcap, he wants to get orders out faster at his new location. In order to expedite service at the Kemah Hubcap, he's going to set up a second window that only sells craft beer. Craig explained that he plans on having an outdoor space there so that guests will want to stop in for a beer. "We have a big deck, and we want to do daily beer specials; we want to make it more of a place to relax."As for the food, the menu will remain the same, simply offering the occasional off-menu specials, like it does at the Houston Hubcaps. Just because they're closer to the coast doesn't meant they'll be doing any fish burgers or seafood. "We're all about the beef, so we won't do the fried shrimp and fish; we'll leave that to the experts. I can do it, but it's not what we're about," Craig explained.
Despite this new undertaking, Craig is still forging ahead with plans to open CK Steakhouse with fellow restaurateur Ronnie Killen, so he will be busy even immediately after the Kemah outpost is up and running. When asked where he's going to stationed primarily, Craig explains that he wants to make sure everything is running smoothly before leaving to concentrate on another project. "When kemah opens I'll be there every day for about a month 90 hours a week, 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. to make sure everyone's trained. Once I feel like I can trust other people, I'll probably hop around." He will also follow the formula that has made his current locations a success. "My mom and dad are on board and they help me out. It's good to have family involved; you can always trust them," he said. So for the new spot he'll have another family member join the team to ensure a reliable staff. "I'm bringing on brother-in-law. I believe in family, so my brother-in-law is going to be trained to be a Ricky Jr.," Craig jokes.
If there's ever a fourth Hubcap, Craig said he's eyeing Katy as his next target area. He thinks it would do well there because Hubcap is family-friendly, and Katy would be a good place to have regular customers. But after that, he plans on taking a break. Craig said, "I've been busting my butt for seven years, so I don't see anything beyond that."
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