After announcing plans to open in Dallas last month, Cincinnati-based grilled cheese restaurant Tom+Chee is aiming for Houston. The fast casual restaurant, which got its start as a humble food tent prior to its 2013 Shark Tank-funded ambitions to franchise, specializes in the ultimate comfort food: grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup. Build-your-own grilled cheese creation paired the classic, chunky or creamy tomato basil soup, or choose from one of 15 fancy grilled cheeses like the Armagoetta (goetta sausage, cherry peppers, fried onions, sweet hot mustard and pepper jack). According to Houston Chronicle, "the Houston-area stores will be opened in partnership with Tunica-Biloxi Holdings, Inc (TBHI)," with the first location set for Sugar Land by the end on the year.
Also expected to open this year, PDQ (People Dedicated to Quality), a fast casual chicken tender focused restaurant from Outback Steakhouse co-founder Bob Basham and Nick Reader, former CFO of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Set to rival Raising Cane's, the first Houston location will be located at 9440 Katy Freeway. The menu is limited, offering only hand-breaded chicken tenders with homemade sauces for dipping, sandwiches, salads and hand-spun milkshakes.
California import Blaze Pizza is taking a slice of the Houston market this year too. Similar to Seattle-based MOD Pizza who's quickly expanded their presence in Houston these past couple of months, the build-your-own pizza concept is also known for its chef-driven menu, housemade dough and prices (everything is under $8). The first location of this casually hip chain is expected to open in late March at Woodlake Square Shopping Center (9600 Westheimer) and another shortly after at Sugar Land Town Center (16100 Kensington Drive).
On the horizon, Piada Italian Street Food. Based out of Columbus, Ohio, this fast casual eatery has its eyes on Houston, according to Columbus Business First, which first spotted paperwork filed for out of state expansion. On the menu, hand rolled piadas (a wrap using thin crust dough), pasta bowls and chopped salads.