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Houston Chef Bryan Caswell Closes His Revived Seafood Restaurant for Good

Reef suddenly shuttered on Monday, November 25 in Midtown

Chef Bryan Caswell Appears At Macy’s Galleria For Big Game Cooking Demo
Houston chef Bryan Caswell just closed a second restaurant in one month.
Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

Chef Bryan Caswell’s longtime seafood mainstay in Midtown shucked its last Gulf oyster this week, according to reports from Culture Map Houston and Houstonia Mag.

Reef’s sudden closure on Monday, November 25, comes just six months after its triumphant return to the local dining scene, serving 90 seafood species freshly caught from the Gulf of Mexico. A deluge of water caused by Hurricane Harvey in 2017 had forced Reef to close for a major revamp (2600 Travis Street).

According to a statement obtained by multiple media outlets, Caswell decided to close Reef for good “after a recent cardiac event ... combined with other economic factors.”

The Reef opened with large crowds and much acclaim in 2007, earning Caswell a Food & Wine Best New Chef Award in 2009 and James Beard Award Best Chef: Southwest finalist nominations in 2010 and 2011.

Reef’s closure caps off a tumultuous 2019 for Caswell, which started with divorce proceedings with his restaurateur wife, Jennifer. Last month, he suddenly shuttered his El Real Tex-Mex Cafe after an eight-year run in Montrose in order “to focus on Reef, my family, and my health,” per a statement from Caswell. El Real servers who claimed they were missing paychecks staged a week of protests and were then paid in full.

All Reef employees have reportedly been paid through last Monday, November 18, per the statement, and additional hours will be paid accordingly; Houston restaurant group Clark-Cooper Concepts has offered to help find employees new jobs.