On Wednesday, it became clear that James Harden’s days as a member of the Houston Rockets are numbered, and he’s headed to the Brooklyn Nets. Still, Harden will move forward with opening Thirteen, his ritzy Midtown restaurant, on January 22.
“Thirteen Restaurant will still be opening at the end of this month. Our entire staff and team are looking forward to providing top notch service and bringing a one-of-a-kind dining experience to Houston,” said Harden’s publicist in a statement. “We are looking forward to sharing our extensive menu and beautiful restaurant with the city.”
It seems like pretty odd timing considering Harden’s imminent departure from the team. The star point guard has had a tumultuous last year in Houston, ranging from Harden boycotting practices to being slapped with fines by the National Basketball Association for violating the league’s COVID-19 protocols. He’s also been advocating for this impending trade to the Nets for the better part of a year.
Which begs the question: How will Houston, a city that is staunchly devoted to its sports teams, respond when Thirteen opens its doors next week? Will the city’s diners show up in (socially distanced) droves to eat chef Tobias Dorzon’s deep-fried red snapper and Old Bay french fries?
To be certain, there is definitely precedent in the city of Houston for this kind of sports-related restaurant snub. That’s a lesson that Ayesha Curry, a restaurateur and wife of Golden State Warriors player Steph Curry, learned when she opened International Smoke at CityCentre in 2018. Before the restaurant even opened its doors, Rockets fans who were bitter that the Warriors had eliminated their team from the 2018 NBA Playoffs flooded the restaurant’s Yelp page with negative, occasionally hateful, reviews. International Smoke closed two years later.
The same thing is now happening to the Google Reviews page for Thirteen, which has since accumulated more than 100 reviews despite not being open yet. “The worst owned restaurants in Houston. Quality of the food was just not good enough,” reads one obviously fake review. “Chemistry-wise I think the cooks just didn’t have any experience. This restaurant had much upside but fell flat on its face when it came to showtime.”
As such, Eater wants to hear your thoughts: As a Houstonian and Rockets fan, will you be going to James Harden’s new restaurant?
Share your response in the poll below.
Will you go to James Harden’s restaurant, Thirteen?
This poll is closed
highly scientific poll will close on Friday, January 15, and we’ll share the results as soon as they’re available.