Community-Supporting Spring Branch Restaurant & Bar Suddenly Closes — Update
In an announcement that seemingly came out of nowhere and was scant on details, owner Kyle Pierson said that he is closing The Branch at 7710 Long Point. Pierson, an alum of craft beer bar The Hay Merchant (now also shuttered), developed a reputation as a community-supporting business owner. During his time of running The Branch, he frequently used his social media platform to help promote other area businesses and regularly hosted events for non-profit organizations. In fact, it was just on Monday that The Branch hosted an art auction to raise money for Hope For Houston’s homeless outreach efforts. A few days before, The Branch was supporting an American Legion fundraiser.
The closing announcement reads, “And so a new adventure begins! I want to thank each and every one of you that made so many happy memories here at The Branch. But all good things must come to an end and The Branch has reached its conclusion. Don’t be sad, guys. We will always have each other and I am sure I will see you around the neighborhood.”
And so a new adventure begins! I want to thank each and every one of you that made so many happy…
In response to our inquiry, Pierson elaborated on his decision. Essentially, it comes down to lack of profits, and that’s hurt Pierson both personally and professionally. “I didn’t decide to close. I just could no longer remain open. Like most things in the last couple years, it really was beyond my control,” he said. He’s also dealing with medical bills from multiple hospital and emergency room visits related to his battle with Crohn’s disease, a chronic inflammatory condition.
Update, 8/12/2022, 4:07 p.m.: A friend of Pierson’s has created a GoFundMe fundraiser to assist with his debts.
The Branch opened just over five years ago, in May 2017 — and the timing was inauspicious. About three months later, Hurricane Harvey hit, devastating homes and businesses across Houston. Those that weren’t damaged were still shuttered due to loss of electricity, and many lost inventories of frozen and refrigerated food. “We’ve had real bad luck since day one,” Pierson said. “If you think about it, most restaurants don’t make it five years in good times. So, maybe I only made it that long during all the biblical plagues because the neighborhood supports me as much as they can, but things have just been too hard for too long.”
In addition to 26 taps and plenty of craft beer selections, The Branch maintained an eclectic menu that ranged from bar bites, such as carnitas tacos and skillet nachos, to full-sized entrées, including a very good chicken fried steak and Spicy Korean Chicken & Dumplings. Some of The Branch’s dishes, usually conceived by Pierson himself, were adventurous and eclectic, such as the Peanut Butter Patty Melt with two beef patties, American and pepper jack cheeses, caramelized onions and spicy peanut butter on Jalapeño Cornbread Texas Toast, and the Vindaloo Frito Pie — Fritos topped with ground lamb in spicy curry sauce.
In 2019, after a viral story about a woman on a mobility scooter drinking wine out of a Pringles can, The Branch had a viral moment of its own when Pierson the same kind of wine service for $3.
We call this “Texas Wine Service”. Suckit, Florida! Your choice of “Chabliss” or “Mer-Lot” for $3. Served in Pringles…
The Branch’s closing follows that of another (albeit much shorter-lived) bar and restaurant in Spring Branch. Shoot The Moon, co-owned by Pierson’s former Hay Merchant boss, Kevin Floyd, shuttered in April. It begs the question of whether the Spring Branch neighborhood is equipped to embrace a growing food and drink scene. If it is, then the question becomes, “What characteristics does a restaurant or bar need to thrive in Spring Branch?”
At this point, Pierson is now job-hunting and considering both personal and professional bankruptcy. Those who did patronize The Branch will surely miss the friendly tavern and the ever-changing jokes and cheerful thoughts on its tall sign.
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.