After leaving Houston to work in restaurants in Los Angeles and New York, former Underbelly sous chef Gary Ly has an exciting new eatery in the works for Montrose.
Called 93’ Til, Ly tells Eater that the new restaurant is set to take over the space formerly occupied by Night Heron at 1601 West Main Street in Montrose. The project is a partnership between Gary Ly, who worked at David Chang’s Momofuku restaurants in New York City and Washington, D.C., and his business partner Lung Ly, a fellow chef who’s worked at spots like Portland, Oregon’s Laurelhurst Market.
The restaurant takes its name from a 1993 song recorded by West Coast hip-hop group Souls of Mischief, a nod to 93’ Til’s bicoastal roots. After working in New York City, Gary Ly moved out to Los Angeles to launch a pop-up called Rice Paper, among other ventures, while Lung Ly returned to Houston. Gary Ly is planning a trip back to Houston in September to begin work on the menu for the spot.
“The big influence on the menu is our experience, and our upbringing,” Gary Ly says. “It’s going to be very seasonal, very farmers-market-driven. Lots of vegetable dishes, very approachable food. We want people to come, hang out, listen to some cool records, and eat some really good food.”
As far as the vibe is concerned, Lung Ly and Gary Ly describe 93’ Til as a laid-back, cozy record bar where diners can listen to ‘90s hip-hop on vinyl and eat dishes prepared with locally sourced produce. The space, which will get a minor revamp with tons of plants, industrial fixtures, and plenty of vinyl records, is intended to invoke the vibe of cozy, old-school Japanese bars that Gary Ly and Lung Ly hung out in while working in New York City.
And of course, because the COVID-19 pandemic has fundamentally changed the face of dining in America, both chefs have been forced to reevaluate their approach to opening this restaurant. “It’s changed everyone’s business. Pre-pandemic, everyone was just so focused on how they could get the most people in the doors and make the most exciting food,” Gary Ly says. “Now, we want to make food that’s still exciting, but in an environment where everybody will want to come out to eat.”
“We’re constantly thinking about how we make it safer and more comfortable for people,” Lung Ly adds. “There are so many variables that go into making this work now, and we’re going to have to work through it. It’s not ideal to open during this time, but here we are.”
At present, 93’ Til is expected to make its debut in November. Stay tuned for an official opening date.