Big Changes Afoot at Legendary Fine-Dining Staple

Big Changes Afoot at Legendary Fine-Dining Staple

Tony's dining room / photo by STP Images

NEARLY A YEAR and a half after the passing of its namesake, a fine-dining restaurant that set the tone for elegance in the industry has announced big changes.


Tony Vallone’s wife, Donna, has named a new executive chef — though “new” isn’t exactly the most accurate description. Kate McLean, who spent seven years in the kitchen at Tony’s, will return as executive chef and partner after nearly five years away. In the interim, McLean connected with different aspects of the industry such as bartending, podcasting and food-writing, including several pieces for CityBook. Former executive chef Austin Waiter is “moving on to a new opportunity,” per a release.

Although Tony’s is well known for its appeal to the society set — and celebs and politicians; no fewer than seven U.S. presidents have sampled Tony’s fare — Vallone always insisted his real legacy would be perfectly executed Italianate food, served up with top-flight service to an exacting standard. McLean and Donna intend on preserving that legacy, while adding new elements to the dining experience.

“When I walk into Tony’s it feels unlike anywhere else — I feel different there in the most wonderful way,” said McLean in a statement. “I am blessed to have had 10 years with Tony, both professionally and later as friends. I watched him, asked questions, and made sure I was someone worth mentoring.”

McLean will put her own stamp on Tony’s in 2022, with events like a new annual party on “Tony Vallone Day,” April 1. She’ll create new tasting menus each season, with approachable prices and wine pairings, and personally curate playlists for different areas of the restaurant at different times of the day.

Happy-hour offerings will soon include “elevated finger foods,” a la foie gras cotton candy and parmesan-wrapped A5 wagyu. And Tony’s famous caviar service will now include the option of bottle service — think vodka served tableside in an ice block.

“I’m ready and eager to reconnect with the Tony’s team and step into my new role helping Donna steer the business,” said McLean. “It’s a happy homecoming!”

Kate McLean and Donna Vallone with the late Tony Vallone / photo courtesy Tony's

Food
With Expertise in Blondes, Extensions and More, the Janelle Alexis Team Is a Go-To Salon

YOU CAN'T LIMIT Janelle to one title – Hairdresser. Her career and business has been established and built on a strong foundation. Using her two business degrees + one more in-process, this enables Janelle and the team to deliver not only a customer-focused experience, but a foundationally solid business. There is much more than meets the eye, and in sharing a little bit about Janelle, she was not only an international hair extension educator for over 14 years, but brings extensive expertise to blondes. She rounds this out with her previously launched namesake cosmetic line, which is a perfect complement to her belief that “Beauty is our Business”.

Keep ReadingShow less

AS WE PRODUCE our second annual “Cool 100” list, we’re reminded of our thoughts as we debuted this feature last year. We acknowledged that deciding who and what is cool is not only a moving target but also entirely subjective. And that attempting to “rank” the coolest people in Houston is a fool’s errand, one that will leave us immediately open to criticism. “You think she is cooler than him? You included this person?! You left off that one!?"

Keep ReadingShow less
People + Places

Gragner's (photo by Marco Torres)

THE MUSEUM DISTRICT hasn't always been the easiest place to open and operate a restaurant, for some reason. But there's a Houston couple who seems to have gotten the hang of it — and today they unveil their newest concept on Binz St.

Keep ReadingShow less
Food