What do you do when you have a successful brand that's steadily expanding? If you're Lasco, the parent company of wine bar The Tasting Room and the growing upscale comfort food mini-chain Max's Wine Dive, you try your hand at opening another concept. The Houston-based restaurant group is reportedly opening a Tex-Mex restaurant within Uptown Park in the Galleria area. Following a blind item My Table magazine posted to Facebook, CultureMap discovered a job posting backing up the rumor:
We will deliver premiere Tex-Mex food, classic, high-end drinks and an elevated service experience in a sleek and sophisticated environment. Located in the Galleria area, we will serve chef-driven, upscale Tex-Mex cuisine alongside the finest tequilas and mescals.
As to where The Tasting Room group will open this concept, Lasco has its sights set on Auturo's Uptown Italian. The restaurant chef Arturo Boada opened before exiting four years ago is rumored to close according to My Table and CultureMap; however that may not be exactly true.
Prior to the rumors, Eater contacted Lasco chief brand officer Jonathan Horowitz a few weeks ago regarding his intent to move into the still operational Italian restaurant. He provided this email response:
We are talking to Arturo's Uptown Italiano about taking over their current space in Uptown Park. It may happen, it may not. Simultaneously, Arturo's has been offered another space in the Galleria area that they are thinking about relocating to if a deal does go through. That may happen, or it may not. Nothing is known for sure at this time and probably won't be until mid-summer or so. We put in a TABC application to start the process, in case we end up moving forward at some point. There are many details to work out on both ends to make this happen in a manner that is advantageous to both sides and much is uncertain.
Arturo's Uptown Italian has managed to survive in Houston's tough restaurant market despite its namesake chef, so it's possible it could thrive in the same area elsewhere, that is if it's not closing as some rumors suggest. Lasco's tentively named Tex-Mex and tequila bar, Anejo, on the other hand is a different matter. The group does well with bistro fare and upscale Southern classics, but with a city that's cut-throat on all things Tex-Mex, Lasco will have to bring it in the food department if it hopes to be prosperous. Then again, the Houston-based Pappas family didn't let their Greek heritage stop them from being successful with Tex-Mex concept Pappasitos Cantina, which celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2013.