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Cult-Favorite Scoop Shop Van Leeuwen’s First Houston Location Opens This Week

Plus, Mattress Mack gets his own ice cream flavor and more Houston dining intel

a pint of van leeuwen ice cream next to a bottle of yellow rose texas bourbon
Van Leeuwen debuts its first Texas ice cream shop with a Houston-centric flavor
Van Leeuwen Ice Cream

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.

Van Leeuwen’s first Texas location opens this week with special Houston flavor

Van Leeuwen, the New York City ice cream shop with a cult following, is set to open its first Texas location this weekend, on Saturday, May 8, in Rice Village. The grand opening will include $1 scoops all day, from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., including a flavor developed especially for Houston, Yellow Rose Bourbon Pecan Pie, made with the Bayou City’s own Yellow Rose Distilling. Ahead of the opening, Van Leeuwen’s bright yellow food truck will be cruising around Rice Village, selling scoops of the scratch-made dairy and vegan ice cream. The Rice Village location, at 2565 Amherst Street, is the first of at least three shops expected to open in Houston this summer.

Punks Southern kitchen to reopen as Gratify

Punks Simple Southern Food, the Rice Village restaurant from Clark Cooper Concepts that closed in the early months of the pandemic last year, will reopen as Gratify, a wine-focused neighborhood bistro serving dishes like oysters, steak au poivre, and craft cocktails. Details are minimal, but the restaurant, at 5212 Morningside Drive, already has a website, Instagram and Facebook.

After Punk’s closed, the location briefly served as an outpost for Daddy’s Burgers, according to CultureMap. Another Clark Cooper restaurant, Coppa Osteria, is next door at 5212 Morningside. Gratify is not to be confused with yet another CCC project, Satisfy, a health food restaurant apparently still slated to open at 2229 San Felipe Street. No word yet on when Gratify plans to open, but stay tuned.

Mattress Mack honored with his own ice cream flavor

Red Circle Ice Cream, a Chinatown sweets shop, has created a brand new flavor of ice cream inspired by and dedicated to local celebrity and philanthropist Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale. The flavor, called “Mattress Mack Peaches Ice Cream,” is meant to honor McIngvale, who featured Red Circle and several other struggling small businesses on commercials for his well-known company, Gallery Furniture, in the midst of the pandemic last year. Appearing in the Gallery Furniture commercial gave Red Circle some much-needed exposure, said Nickey Ngo, owner of the ice cream shop.

After finalizing the recipe, Red Circle sent samples to McIngvale, who gave the company his blessing to use his name. Red Circle’s ice cream includes chunks of real peaches in it. (Peach is apparently Mcingvale’s favorite flavor of ice cream.) Red Circle is known for other unique flavors, like Hot Cheetos ice cream. McIngvale is known for his charitable works throughout Houston, including opening up his massive Gallery Furniture store to residents whose homes were flooded during Hurricane Harvey.

The flavor is on sale now at the shop, at 6838 Ranchester Drive. In true Mattress Mack form, proceeds from sale of the flavor will be donated to a local charity, the Houston Food Bank.