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.
Tilman Fertitta to take Landry’s, Golden Nugget public
“Stonks” are all the rage on the internet these days, and soon you’ll be able to buy shares in Houston’s own Landry’s Inc. Restauratuer and Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta is preparing to take his business empire public, starting with a merger that will combine Landry’s and Golden Nugget casinos into one large business entity. According to the Houston Chronicle, the merger and iniitial public offering will allow Fertitta to better position himself to expand his casino empire. Two years ago, Fertitta tried— and failed — to buy Las Vegas’s Caesars Entertainment. The move also comes less than a year after Fertitta took out a high-interest private loan worth more than $300 million to keep his businesses afloat during the pandemic.
It’s official: Van Leeuwen is coming to the Montrose Collective
Back in August, speculation abounded on the Houston Architectural Info Forums as to where Van Leeuwen, the cult-fave ice cream shop from New York City, might choose for its first Houston location. Based on paperwork filed with the State of Texas, many guessed that “Van Leeuwen Houston Montrose” would be going into the currently-under-construction multiuse development Montrose Collective, at the intersection of Westheimer and Grant streets. Now that rumor has been confirmed. A press release from developers Radom Capital announces that “Van Leeuwen Ice Cream, will be bringing some sweetness” to the nearly-completed development. When it opens, Van Leeuwen will join existing businesses Uchi and Southside Espresso, as well as new tenants like Live Nation in the new complex. Van Leeuwan also has several other locations in the works for Houston, including in Rice Village and Uptown Park.
Dak & Bop owner opens Korean coffee shop near the Galleria
Tom and Toms, a South Korean coffee chain known for its sweet potato lattes, has opened a brand new location at 5353 West Alabama Street. The cafe is the second in Houston, and the first to be known as Tom N Toms Black, which offers an expanded menu and slightly more upscale experience, according to CultureMap. (Houston’s first location opened in Asiatown in 2019.)
The Galleria location is being run by Jason Cho, who also owns Korean fried chicken joint Dak & Bap. In addition to the sweet potato latte, Tom n Toms also serves taro lattes, smoothies, bing su shaved ice, and savory dishes such as noodles, pretzels and pizza.
Houston lost more than 2,000 restaurants in 2020
According to The Greater Houston Restaurant Association, roughly 15 percent of restaurants in the Houston area were unable to whether the coronavirus pandemic and have closed in the last year. The amounts to about 2,000 restaurants that have closed their doors for good, according to a story on Houston Public Media. It also means that, starting with Hurricane Harvey in 2017, Houston has seen three straight years of contraction in the restaurant industry.
“2020 was on pace to overall have an increase in restaurants in Houston had we not faced the pandemic,” said Melissa Stewart, GHRA executive director, during the program. “We had some great groups moving in, big and small. But that slowed.”