Founder of Urban Eats Has a New Restaurant & Bakery in Spring Branch

Levi Rollins, formerly of Urban Eats, with his Salt & Sugar business partners, Armando Velasquez and his son, Abner

Well, that was fast. As reported about a month ago, financial hardships that started with the pandemic drove Urban Eats on Washington Avenue out of business. Amazingly, founder Levi Rollins is already up and running in a new space in Spring Branch. The new restaurant and bakery is called Salt & Sugar, and it’s in the former World Catering Bakery space at 1073 Silber. It’s a name that Rollins has previously used for an ghost kitchen that he ran from Urban Eats. 

Rollins and his new business partner, Armando Velasquez, who is financially supporting the business, have hustled over the past week to transition the space into Salt & Sugar. (Rollins’ partner in Urban Eats, Eric Munoz, has taken a new job.) Rollins has known Velasquez for quite some time. Velasquez is a fellow business owner and general contractor who handled maintenance issues at Urban Eats. He helped Rollins move out of the Urban Eats space — but also insisted that Rollins come with him the following day to look at a bakery and restaurant business that Velasquez was thinking of buying. “I said, oh man, I was just about to have my first day off of work in 10 years!” said Rollins. However, he did go. The business turned out to be World Catering Bakery, and Rollins says that he saw great potential in the space. Velasquez’s son, Abner, is also a co-owner of the business. 

The World Catering Bakery restaurant space in Spring Branch is undergoing a transformation, as it's now the home to new Houston restaurant Salt & Sugar
The World Catering Bakery restaurant space in Spring Branch is undergoing a transformation, as it’s now the home to new Houston restaurant Salt & Sugar. Photo by Phaedra Cook.

The team has made remarkable progress establishing Salt & Sugar in the former World Catering Bakery space over a short period. A new, colorful mural that includes baked goods and fresh fruit is already taking shape across the front of the building. The single-story building’s dining room is not as huge — and that is for the best, as the environment is friendly and cozy. There are brightly colored paintings, and the longest wall is painted in Salt & Sugar’s orange-gold logo color.  

Inside, customers will be greeted by two pastry cases — a familiar sight that will surely evoke memories of Urban Eats. The cases are filled with cinnamon rolls, brownies, iced sugar and ginger cookies in whimsical shapes (rodeo-themed cookies are available right now), mini crème brûlées, cheesecakes and tarts, and individually sized quiche. Four refrigerators contain grab-and-go salads, heat-and-eat tamales filled with pork or chicken verde, cakes, pies and drinks in both bottles and cans. 

As was the case at Urban Eats, Salt & Sugar is serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. Breakfast and brunch plates are available every day from 7 a.m. Many of the dishes replicate what you might find in an old-school diner, such as the American Breakfast, with eggs (served your way), hickory smoked bacon, sausage links or patties, chicken sausage, either roasted potatoes or gouda grits, and choice of bread. Breakfast options also include the classic Southern biscuits and gravy (also available topped with either fried chicken or sausage patties), Honey Butter Fried Chicken Biscuit and The Sandwiches, with egg custard and your choice of breakfast protein atop your choice of bread (biscuit, bagel or toast).

The Harvest salad at Salt & Sugar restaurant in Spring Branch
The Harvest salad at Salt & Sugar with grilled chicken, herb goat cheese crostini, sliced almonds, cranberries, red grapes, pear tomatoes, braised cauliflower and crispy onion bits, all dressed up with housemade rosemary balsamic vinaigrette. Photo by Phaedra Cook.

The brunch menu features a few more decadent options, like the Breakfast Pie, a pie crust loaded with scrambled eggs, cream and cheddar cheeses, smoked brisket, bell peppers and onions, topped with sausage cream gravy and served with mixed green salad alongside; Smoked Short Ribs & Grits with eggs topped with demi reduction; and the Parisian Breakfast with two eggs (fried, poached or scrambled), triple-cream brie, TX lime honey, strawberry preserves, butter croissant, baguette and whipped butter, with a choice of fruit salad or almond-currant muesli on the side. Additionally, the menu offers a variety of a la carte options, such as breakfast tacos and Nova Loxxy (Nova smoked lox on a plain or everything bagel).

The Lunch Plate offerings from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. include Mac & Meat, truffled mac and cheese with a sun-dried tomato and prosciutto meatloaf, which, much like the breakfast pie, continues a theme of playfully combining high-quality dining with comfort food. Another Lunch Plate is the Chicken in a Garden with grilled or buttermilk chicken tenders, a side selection of either bacon and onion braised brussel sprouts or skillet-seared cauliflower, and a garden salad.

The restaurant shifts to dinner plates from 3 to 9 p.m., with hearty meals like Bourbon Maple Pork Chops, with onion and apple chutney, a savory tomato & white cheddar tart and garlic snap green beans; Lobster Ravioli topped with sage brown butter cream sauce and either garlic herb shrimp scampi or grilled salmon; and chicken Parmesan served on top of pesto fettucine Alfredo.

The Cowboy Burger at Salt & Sugar restaurant in Spring Branch
The Cowboy Burger at Salt & Sugar is loaded with a Salisbury steak patty, cheddar, bacon, fried onion strings and bourbon barbecue sauce. It’s also available as the Cowgirl, which swaps the Salisbury steak patty with grilled chicken. Photo by Phaedra Cook.

Outside of the breakfast, lunch and dinner menus, there are plenty of all-day options, starting with a half-dozen hot sandwiches and burgers. Burgers include The Classic with American cheese, iceberg lettuce, tomato, white onion, dill pickles and mayo (add bacon for $2 or make it vegan for $4) or the Cowboy Burger, loaded with a Salisbury steak patty, cheddar, smoky bacon, fried onion strings and bourbon bbq sauce. The Cowgirl option is also available, with grilled chicken instead of beef. There a few sections of the menu dedicated to more traditional deli-style sandwiches. These include creations such as the MEATZA, with Italian salami, honey ham, pepperoni, fontina and provolone cheeses, muffuletta spread, lettuce, tomato, herbed aioli, oil and red wine vinegar. You can also order classic sandwiches like turkey and provolone, roasted chicken salad or bologna and American cheese.

The staff is an integrated one. Rollins has retained some of World Catering Bakery’s staffers while rehiring a few who worked at Urban Eats, including pastry chef Ruby Ingles. “She makes the biscuits and all of the classic, rustic pastries,” said Rollins. Megan Martinez, a pastry chef and partner in the prior business, World Catering Bakery, makes the cakes and handles the intricate decorating work. She will also continue making the bestselling pastries from World Catering Bakery. 

“We are thrilled to unveil Salt & Sugar to this great city,” said Rollins. “With a commitment to quality, every bite tells a story and every dish is crafted with passion. We are so honored to serve Houstonians again. Their support has always fueled us.”

Salt & Sugar is open Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., Saturday from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday for brunch from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

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