One of Houston’s most celebrated hospitality groups is closing yet another of its restaurants in December. Underbelly Hospitality announced today that it will shutter its diverse restaurant UB Preserv at 1609 Westheimer Road on Thursday, December 23.
News of the closure comes just a few months after Underbelly announced it was also closing Montrose spots Hay Merchant and Georgia James, which will eventually move into the Regent Square development at Dunlavy Street and Allen Parkway. Earlier this year, Underbelly also confirmed plans to close the multi-concept restaurant One Fifth at the end of the year.
UB Preserv opened in 2018 as a way to expand on the exploration of Houston’s diverse dining culture which chef Chris Shepherd first undertook at Underbelly, his flagship restaurant that closed previously in 2018 after being open for six years. Shepherd gave Momofuku Ssam Bar alum Nick Wong, then a newcomer to Houston, nearly free reign over the menu at Preserv, inspiration from Viet-Cajun cuisines, Gulf Coast seafood, Tex-Mex, and more. However, of all of Underbelly’s restaurants, UB Preserv, with its limited hours and small menu, was hit hardest by the coronavirus pandemic and ensuing economic slowdown.
The good news? UB Preserv will be replaced with an all-new drinking spot from Underbelly called Everlong Bar & Hideaway, which is expected to open sometime in January 2022.
“The outpouring of love and sadness about Hay Merchant’s closing reinforced the desire for a good bar with great food in Montrose,” per a press release. The bar’s name, inspired by Shepherd’s love of the band Foo Fighters, also speaks to the idea of permanence: In a year full of changes for Underbelly (and the restaurant industry as a whole), Shepherd has settled on the restaurant concepts he feels have staying power in Houston.
Everlong will take inspiration from the Foo Fighters, “with crossover appeal but pushing boundaries at the same time.” Expect a cocktail-focused menu with a small wine list and a tight selection of beers. Drinks will include old-school (but trendy once more) ‘80s and ‘90s cocktails like Cosmos, espresso martinis, and a much-maligned classic, the Long Island iced tea.
Food-wise, expect a few of Hay Merchant’s most popular dishes, including the braised Korean goat dumplings and the muffuletta sandwich. Everlong will also offer a brand new hamburger, plus other snacks and shareable dishes. A few of Hay Merchant’s events will also carry over, including trivia night, but Everlong will be a completely different bar than Hay Merchant.
As for the UB Preserv team — chef Nick Wong and sous chef and operations manager Leila Frink will be moving to the Georgia James Tavern, the slightly more casual offshoot of luxe Underbelly steakhouse Georgia James, which opened Downtown in July. The relocation of the original Georgia James, which was supposed to depart Westheimer Avenue for Regent Square by the start of 2022, has been delayed for at least a few months. In the meantime, Georgia James will be taking over the One Fifth building until Regent Square is ready to open, beginning in January of 2022.
And there’s one more big announcement. The second Underbelly restaurant slated for Regent Square has finally been revealed, coming off the success of One Fifth Red Sauce Italian. Shepherd’s newest restaurant will be called Pastore, Italian for “Shepherd,” and will focus on the classic pasta dishes, like chicken parmesan, semolina pasta from BOH Pasta, and wood-fired pizzas, that made One Fifth’s final pop-up a hit.
Meanwhile, Shepherd’s two restaurants slated for the Houston Farmer’s Market — Underbelly Burger and Texas and Southern cuisine spot Wild Oats — will open in December and January, respectively.
- Chris Shepherd’s Casual Counterpart to Steakhouse Georgia James Opens Today
- Beloved Montrose Bar the Hay Merchant Will Shutter by the End of 2021
- Chris Shepherd’s One Fifth Transforms Into a Classic Italian Red Sauce Joint
- Chef Chris Shepherd Will Open a More Casual Offshoot of His Popular Steakhouse Georgia James in Downtown Houston
- Chef Chris Shepherd’s UB Preserv Has Officially Opened Its Doors