Underbelly Hospitality Announces More New Concepts and a Major Chef Shuffle. Hope You're Hungry!

Claudia Casbarian
Underbelly Hospitality Announces More New Concepts and a Major Chef Shuffle. Hope You're Hungry!

The bar at Georgia James Tavern

CHRIS SHEPHERD'S UNDERBELLY Hospitality is once again making headlines this week with updates about its multiple new projects in the works.

As Georgia James readies for its move to the Regent Square development near Allen Parkway — originally slated to take place in January, but now pushed back to March due to permitting issues — its team will move to One Fifth in the meantime. It's perfect timing as the One Fifth concept comes to a close with its original iteration, One Fifth Steak — but it will now be known as Georgia James at One Fifth.

The Underbelly Hospitality team has finally announced its second concept at Regent Square: Pastore, serving "red-sauce Italian favorites" like "gigantic portions of lasagna and an overdose of red sauce." Expect family-style cuisine and décor, thanks to designer Amanda Medsger's whimsical ode to traditional Italian-American dining. Pastore is slated to open in late-spring 2022.

Earlier this year, the restaurant group announced that Hay Merchant would close. Now, the celebrated UB Preserv will also close — but this news comes with a number of silver linings.

First, Nick Wong will hop over to Georgia James Tavern, the still-new Downtown steakhouse-spinoff in Market Square Tower. He brings with him UB Preserv's sous chef and operations manager Leila Frink — along with a phrase he picked up while working at New York's Gramercy Tavern, "Simplicity can be luxury." A statement calls his forthcoming menu "elegant but still playful."

Second, a new concept will open in the UB Preserv space in January: Everlong Bar & Hideaway, named after a popular Foo Fighters song and drawing inspiration from other rock 'n' roll legends. "The outpouring of love and sadness about Hay Merchant's closing reinforced the desire for a good bar with great food in Montrose," said the statement.

Indeed, several of Hay Merchant's popular dishes and events will appear at Everlong — likely the Korean braised goat and dumplings and the muffuletta, and trivia night, too. But it's certainly not Hay Merchant 2.0. Westin Galleymore will be launching a menu of "old-school" cocktails like mojitos, cosmos, martinis and a mean Long Island iced tea. Former Hay Merchant and Tavern sous chef Lucas McKinney will helm the kitchen, adding a new burger and innovative bar snacks.

And in the midst of all of this chef-shuffle, Underbelly Burger opens at the Houston Farmers Market in December, and Wild Oats follows in January.

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