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A Houston Restaurant Wishlist for the New Year

The city’s top chefs and food writers share their hopes and dreams for what will hopefully be a much better year

Here’s hoping for a 2020 full of killer lunches in actual restaurants, like the brand new Ginger Kale
Ginger Kale [Official Photo]
Amy McCarthy is a reporter at, focusing on pop culture, policy and labor, and only the weirdest online trends.

After a rough 2020, being hopeful actually feels possible now that a new year is around the corner. Houston’s restaurants have suffered mightily throughout the year, facing plummeting revenue, empty dining rooms, and a sea of confusing regulations.

Despite all that, the industry’s top chefs and food writers still have high hopes for the future. Check out their wishlist for the new year, and make sure to patronize your favorite establishments for takeout and delivery as much as possible to make sure that they’re still around in 2021.

June Rodil, Master Sommelier/partner, Goodnight Hospitality: Surviving and thriving despite it all. Strength, evolution, hospitality, and community become (remain) a necessity.

Megha Bhandari, contributor, Eater Houston: The restaurant industry as a whole will survive this, but what I hope is that the many layers which make up local dining scenes across the country - from family-owned food trucks and taco stands to longstanding neighborhood institutions - can withstand this period. Whether it is with government assistance or community support, I hope that small businesses (which add so much charm and color to the restaurant industry) bounce back stronger than before and with new and innovative ideas for the future.

Brittanie Shey, associate editor, Eater Houston: I hope that we can see some real equity in the way the system operates. We’ve seen so many stories this year around racism, sexism and other abuse like wage theft, in addition to issues like a lack of health care and a safety net for food and bev employees when disaster strikes. It’s clear we need a better support system for everyone in this country.

Troy Guard, chef/owner, Guard and Grace: My hope is that we get our hospitality people jobs again, and that we continue to support our local / independent retail businesses. We all love each other more.

Mai Pham, contributor, Eater Houston: It sounds trite, but my biggest hope would be for the restaurant industry to come back stronger than before.

Sherman Yeung, chef/owner, Tobiuo Sushi and Bar: Much more recognition and praise for all the hard work that is put in for restaurants to survive, in COVID and non-COVID times.

Chris Shepherd, chef/owner, Underbelly Hospitality: That people can survive the winter and we can make it through this as a community, with everyone better on the other side.

Erin Smith, chef/owner, Feges BBQ: That we survive this. Intact.

Alex Au-Young, chef/owner, Phat Kitchen and Phat Eatery: No more high commissions for third-party delivery.

Manabu “Hori” Horiuchi, chef/owner, Kata Robata: No more COVID-19 and good business for everybody!!