At Last! New Houston Restaurant from Lucille’s Owner is Opening Soon

The front of new Houston restaurant Late August

First announced way back in mid-2021, Late August from chef and owner Chris Williams of Houston restaurant Lucille’s is nearly ready to welcome guests. The restaurant is at 4201 Main in The Ion (same building as chef David Cordúa’s restaurant, The Lymbar), and it will start by serving lunch on Monday, March 25. Dinner service is planned to start on Monday, April 8. 

According to a press release, “The Late August name derives from the joyful time of year when the Sears catalog would arrive at your doorstep, bringing a deep desire and wonderment to all who would receive it and begin feverishly circling the items that would hopefully arrive for Christmas.” It’s a fitting reference, as The Ion was formerly the downtown Sears, which closed after 80 years of business in 2018. 

Chef and restaurateur Chris Williams of Lucille's Hospitality Group
Chef and restaurateur Chris Williams of Lucille’s Hospitality Group. Photo by Rebekah Flores.

Gin Design Group used the historic Sears as inspiration for Late August’s art deco-style dining room, which seats 70. The restaurant still has the original terrazzo tile floor, and the colors selected to complement it are teal, burnt orange and salmon. Other features include a custom marble bar, handmade wallpaper with metallic accents and artwork by local artist and Hogan Brown Gallery curator Robert Hodge

Late August’s path to opening has been punctuated by numerous delays. Even the Late August website currently says “Coming Soon Fall/Winter 2023”, and here we are in Spring 2024. We asked a representative for the restaurant why it’s taken three years to open, and will update this article should we receive a response. Originally, Top Chef competitor and judge Dawn Burrell was attached to the project, but she officially bowed out in July 2023. 

Foreground: executive chef Sergio Hidalgo of Late August. Background: Lucille's Hospitality Group chef and restaurateur Chris Williams
Foreground: executive chef Sergio Hidalgo of Late August. Background: Lucille’s Hospitality Group chef and restaurateur Chris Williams. Photo by Rebekah Flores.

Williams is not without accolades of his own. In 2022, he was a James Beard Award nominee for Outstanding Restaurateur and a semifinalist in the same category in 2023. He’s named Sergio Hidalgo as Late August’s executive chef — and the timing is interesting. Hidalgo is described as a “longtime protégé and mentee of The Original Ninfa’s on Navigation executive chef Alex Padilla”. As we reported last week, Padilla has announced he’s leaving The Original Ninfa’s on Navigation, although he’ll stay on as a consultant until July 1. According to Hidalgo’s LinkedIn profile, his overall restaurant experience stretches back to 2012 and includes a stint with Marriott Hotels as a kitchen manager. Late August’s menu will feature dishes exploring both Williams’ and Hidalgo’s heritages. 

Achiote Braised Barbecue Ribs at Houston restaurant Late August
Achiote Braised Barbecue Ribs at Houston restaurant Late August. Photo by Rebekah Flores.

While the menu has not yet been posted to the Late August website nor supplied to the media, provided photos reveal some of the dishes. These include Smoked Wings With Mole, Cracklings and Pumpkin Seeds, a vibrant orecchiette dish with some type of green pesto, Okra Masa Cakes, Pickled Shrimp and Achiote Braised Barbecue Ribs.

General manager and sommelier Danny Davis of Late August
General manager and sommelier Danny Davis of Late August. Photo by Rebekah Flores.

Danny Davis, who has been with CRÚ Restaurant & Wine Bar for over a decade, has finally been tempted away. He will serve both as general manager and sommelier at Late August, where the wine program will showcase those made by small vineyards as well as historically marginalized populations, including women and people of color. There’s a cocktail list as well, which focuses on drinks with bourbon, mezcal and vodka. While we don’t have complete ingredient details, some of the drink names are Highway To Hell, a red-orange cocktail with Highway Vodka, The Elixir Of The Gods and Mansa Musa, a bourbon cocktail. Non-alcoholic cocktails will also be available.  

Cocktails at new Houston restaurant Late August from left to right: Highway to Hell, The Elixir of the Gods and Mansa Musa
Cocktails at new Houston restaurant Late August from left to right: Highway to Hell, The Elixir of the Gods and Mansa Musa. Photo by Rebekah Flores.

Both Lucille’s and Late August are part of Williams’ Lucille’s Hospitality Group (the namesake is his late grandmother, Lucille B. Smith, a trailblazing Black woman entrepreneur), as is Rado Market. Williams also founded the Lucille’s 1913 charity, which includes a community garden that will supply produce to Late August. 

“It has been a long time coming with the anticipation of Late August,” said Williams via press release. “Similar to waiting for the Sears catalog to come in the mail, it has felt the same for Late August. We wanted to ensure everything was perfect to create a culturally curated culinary experience for patrons. The wait will be well worth it, like finally receiving gifts from the Sears catalog on Christmas morning. Working with The Ion has been great, and I cannot wait to introduce Houston to the Late August team and some of the eclectic flavors from my heritage and Chef Hidalgo’s.”

Late August’s hours from March 25 through April 7 will be 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. On August 8, dinner hours will be added, and the restaurant will stay open until 9 p.m. on weekdays. Saturdays will be dinner-only from 5 to 9 p.m. Late August will be closed on Sundays. 

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