The Days Are Numbered For Artista At The Hobby Center
For 15 years, the most opulent of the Cordúa Group restaurants, Artista, has been a steadfast, pre-show dining venue at The Hobby Center For The Performing Arts, serving approachable Latin fare like chimichurri beef and achiote shrimp. However, its days are now numbered. A reader tip led us to confirm with executive chef David Cordúa that the performance venue has chosen to go with a different company. That information was followed by an official press release this morning which states:
“Cordua has agreed to stay involved during the transition period until the end of the current performing arts season, which is July 2018.”
Spectrum Concessions was awarded the contract for the space and is expected to announce Artista’s replacement in 2018. According to its website, the new leaseholder specializes in providing food and beverage for entertainment venues. Its focus areas include events, concessions and catering. The company’s client list includes Cirque du Soleil and the Houston Children’s Festival. Spectrum’s website additionally states that it has provided hospitality services for several sporting events, including: “Super Bowl, Major League Baseball All Star Game, US Davis Cup Tennis Tournament [and] United States National Diving Championships.”
If things had gone a bit differently, Artista could have been out as early as 2013. That was the year the Hobby Center For Performing Arts asked a judge to forcibly terminate the Cordúa Group’s lease. The Hobby Center reportedly wanted the restaurant group to pay it 45-percent of their beverage sales. When the group wouldn’t sign a lease renewal that included the requirement, proposing 35-percent instead, that’s when the Hobby Center asked the judge to step in. Ultimately the two parties worked out an agreement that allowed Artista to remain five more years.
In fact, there’s a rather amicable quote included in the press release by president and CEO of the Hobby Center Foundation Fran Macferran, who stated, “Artista is a treasured part of the Hobby Center experience. We wish Cordua Restaurants well.”
It’s the latest in a string of new developments for the Cordúa Group, some of which David Cordúa confirmed is part of an effort to focus on the Churrascos brand, as well as the “flagship” restaurant: the original Américas location at West Gray and Shepherd. In September, the Cordúa Group shuttered Amazón Grill’s brick-and-mortar location and turned the brand into an online catering service. Prior to that, in January, the Américas location in The Woodlands was rebranded into a Churrascos.
About the demise of Artista, Cordúa says, “It’s been a good, 15-year run and we’re there until next July. Come see us!”
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.