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Houston Restaurateur Tilman Fertitta’s Culinary Empire Is Feeding NBA Players in Quarantine

Plus, more Houston dining intel

Haute Living And Louis XIII celebrate Tilman Fertitta Cover And Book Release
Tilman Fertitta
Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images for Haute Living

Welcome to AM Intel in the time of coronavirus, a round-up of the city’s newest bits of restaurant-related intel. Follow Eater on Facebook and Twitter for up-to-date details on how COVID-19 is impacting the city’s dining scene.

Tillman Fertitta’s Landry’s has restaurant monopoly in NBA bubble

The NBA’s professional basketball teams have recently moved into a “isolation bubble” at Disney World’s ESPN Wide World of Sports in Reunion, Fla., where they will live, practice and play without outside visitors or fans, in an attempt to avoid the coronavirus. As part of that isolation, the NBA has partnered with six restaurants to provide delivery meals to staff and players. All six of those restaurants, which include Morton’s Steakhouse, Oceanaire and Joe’s Crab Shack, are owned by billionaire restauranteur and Rockets owner Tillman Fertitta, according to NBA reporter Jeff Zillgitt.

The NBA is also partnering with Disney’s culinary team and chef Shaun Loving, who is the team chef for the US Basketball Olympic team, to create meals for the players. Images that went viral on social media yesterday showed sad Frye Fest-style snack packs, but the NBA clarified those meals were for players in temporary quarantine only and did not represent the entire meal service.

Lucille’s to host bartending pop-ups for staff of shuttered bars

Lucille’s, the Museum District restaurant known for its refined Southern cuisine, has devised a plan to help staff of Houston-area bars that were re-closed by Texas Governor Greg Abbott due to the coronavirus. Teams from a series of rotating bars will be able to take over Lucille’s patio for an entire night, and will be able to take home 100% of the proceeds from that evening. The restaurant is encouraging bar teams to come up with a curated cocktail menu unique to each bar, the Houston Chronicle reports. Bars will be announced via Lucille’s social media, and reservations are required for diners to attend each pop-up to better maintain social distancing.

Midtown Fiesta grocery store to close

The Fiesta Mart on Wheeler and San Jacinto is slated to closed on Friday, July 10, CultureMap reports. The store is the third centrally-located Fiesta location to close in recent years. The Montrose Fiesta, on West Alabama, famously closed in 2012 to make way for a high-rise apartment complex, while the Heights Fiesta at 14th and Studewood closed in 2016. Commenters on the Houston Architectural Information Forums note that the Midtown Fiesta spot will eventually be incorporated into the Rice Ion innovation district, currently under construction in the building that was once Midtown’s Sears Department Store.