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Houston Restaurant Power Duo Parts Ways With Forthcoming Boutique Galveston Hotel Lucine

Bobby Heugel and chef Justin Yu are shifting their focus to a new coffee shop and wine bar in Montrose and a second outpost of Better Luck tomorrow — with more in the works

Justin Yu and Bobby Heugel, owners of Thorough Fare hospitality group.
Justin Yu and Bobby Heugel, owners of Thorough Fare hospitality group.
Jenn Duncan Photography

In a surprising turn of the tide, Houston power duo Justin Yu and Bobby Heugel of Thorough Fare restaurant group (Anvil, Better Luck Tomorrow, Squable, Theodore Rex), announced they have departed from their position collaborating on the food and beverage program for the upcoming Hotel Lucine, and its signature restaurant, the Fancy. The soon-to-be-open hotel, located on Galveston’s Seawall Boulevard, is moving forward without the hospitality pros and is set to debut this summer. A statement provided by Hotel Lucine and Thorough Fare reads:

Hotel Lucine and Thorough Fare have mutually decided to end their collaboration on Food & Beverage at Hotel Lucine. Hotel Lucine appreciates the creativity and dedication Justin Yu and Bobby Heugel have contributed to the project, which is slated to open summer 2023 in Galveston, Texas. Additional details on Hotel Lucine and its signature restaurant The Fancy will be announced soon.

In a phone interview with Heugel, the lauded restaurateur kept mum on any further details, alluding to a non-disclosure agreement that he and partner Yu signed, but remained positive and supportive of Hotel Lucine.

An artist rendering of Hotel Lucine, opening in the summer of 2023 in Galveston.
An artist rendering of Hotel Lucine, opening in the summer of 2023 in Galveston.
Hotel Lucine

“We know that the hotel is going to be successful, and we are excited for them to continue with the project,” he says, adding that they are fully supportive of Leila Ortiz, who will remain in her role as the hotel’s executive chef.

While little can be said about what precisely led to this decision, Heugel had lots to share about what he and Yu have planned moving forward back here on the mainland. Most notably, the pair is scouting locations for a second outpost of their thriving Heights bar, Better Luck Tomorrow. “We had delayed the new location for the hotel opening, but since we’re not doing that now, we are shifting our focus back to BLT,” he says, adding that they are looking at a 2024 opening, but it’s possible it could be sooner.

Heugel shares that BLT’s original outpost on Heights Boulevard is also getting a hefty revamp. Along with new cocktail and food menus anticipated in the next couple of months, a major overhaul of the space includes a redesign of the back bar, reimagining its patios and all of the outdoor landscaping, adding an awning on the side facing out to Yale Street, swapping out all of the furniture, and bringing in TVs for the first time.

Beyond BLT, Heugel and Yu are adding a new component to Refuge, their upscale bar located in the same building as Anvil on the lower Westheimer curve in Montrose. The space, which formerly housed the pair’s now shuttered cocktail bar and restaurant Penny Quarter, and has since been used as private event space, is being transformed into a coffee house and bar that will keep daytime hours. Known also as Refuge, its focus will be on coffee service, a small menu of cocktails with to-go options, and wine.

Heugel and Yu may no longer be on island time, but their Thorough Fare restaurant group continues to bud here in Houston. Heugel adds that Squable’s patio has recently gotten a makeover, right in time for peak patio season, with a “huge menu redo” happening in May, and he teases that there is something brewing with another property that he can’t yet discuss.

As far as watching the debut of Hotel Lucine and the Fancy from the sidelines, Heugel says warmly, “We hope to be there on day one, cheering them on.”