Chef & Former Restaurant Owner Leaves Multi-Location Houston Company
Lyle Bento has resigned from his role as culinary director with Sambrooks Management Company. Owned by Michael Sambrooks, the business oversees his original Houston restaurant, The Pit Room, as well as former Cherry Pie Hospitality spots Pi Pizza, Sam’s (formerly Lee’s) Fried Chicken & Donuts and 1751 Sea & Bar, located in what was previously called Star Fish. In addition, Sambrooks Management Company just debuted Tex-Mex restaurant Candente in what used to be the Montrose location of Cane Rosso.
Bento took the role of culinary director shortly after losing his own restaurant, Southern Goods, to a fire. He returned for a short time to Underbelly Hospitality, working under his former mentor Chris Shepherd again, before accepting the position with Sambrooks’ rapidly growing company.
The official statement from Sambrooks Management Company is brief: “Lyle resigned his position with Sambrooks Management Co. The company is thankful for his contributions and wishes him success in his future endeavors.”
Bento is also declining to share the reason for his departure. “You know, things happen. I don’t really want to get into it right now,” he said. He is, however, eager to take on a new role with a different company. In addition, he says he’s still appearing at the annual Southern Smoke Festival fundraiser, but is only representing himself.
Bento’s former chef de cuisine at Southern Goods, J.D. Woodward, is reportedly remaining at the helm of 1751 Sea & Bar for the foreseeable future. The duo made headlines when they both joined Sambrooks Hospitality Group in November 2018.
Phaedra Cook has written about Houston’s restaurant and bar scene since 2010. She was a regular contributor to My Table magazine (now closed) and was the lead restaurant critic for the Houston Press for two years, eventually being promoted to food editor. Cook founded Houston Food Finder in November 2016 and has been its editor and publisher ever since.