Expanding Katy Asian Town Restaurant Grows by Closing Second Concept
Chef and owner Alex Au-Yeung has made the tough decision to close one of his restaurant concepts to make more room for the other. Yelo at 23119 Colonial Parkway in Katy Asian Town is having its last day of business on September 4. It opened in March 2021. Au-Yeung plans to use the space to expand his other, more popular restaurant, Phat Eatery, which is located next door and earned him a James Beard Award Semifinalist nod earlier this year.
“It’s a very tough decision,” said Au-Yeung. “We spent a lot of time building out and developing Yelo. Business is doing better and better. However, Phat Eatery is running out of space, both with kitchen and seating capacity. We’ve been using Yelo’s kitchen on an all-day, everyday basis.” Au-Yeung has offered positions at Phat Eatery to all of Yelo’s staff.
Expanding into Yelo will provide Phat Eatery with 40 additional seats, expanding seating capacity to 130. It also allows space for a private dining room.
There’s another benefit. For the first time, Phat Eatery will have a full bar program. While it’s had wine and beer since its inception, it’s not sold spirits or cocktails. Au-Yeung already has one drink in mind: a Malaysian Mule with kaffir lime.
While Yelo’s primary menu focus until recently was banh mi, it turns out that the current popular dishes are the newer ones introduced in April, such as One Noodle Beef Soup, featuring a five- to six-foot hand-pulled noodle, 12-hour bone broth, braised beef shank and pan-fried dumplings. Those items are being retained and transferred to Phat Eatery’s menu. Some of the drinks will continue to be available, too, although some decisions still need to be made on which ones.
“I hate having to close Yelo, but at the end of the day, this is a business decision,” said Au-Yeung. After Yelo closes on September 4, Phat Eatery’s staff are taking a day off. The restaurant will be closed on September 6. Sometime ain October, Phat Eatery will also have to close for about a week for the needed construction. Yelo’s service counters and current seating will be removed, and the space is being redesigned to match Phat Eatery. Au-Yeung is overseeing that work directly.
Expanding Phat Eatery isn’t his only big project. In June, Au-Yeung announced that he’s opening a second Phat Eatery in The Woodlands. That space, previously occupied by Fuddruckers, is already a generous 7,800 square feet — enough for double the seating of the Katy location, and for not one, but three private dining areas. The building sits on nearly two acres, which also allows a big patio and plenty of outdoor seating. It’s expected to open in early 2023.
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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.