RIP Beaver’s: The Last One In Houston Just Closed
The only spin-off of the original Beaver’s, know as Beaver’s West at 6025 Westheimer, is closed. Since the original also shuttered in August 2018, it marks the end of a familiar and storied restaurant name in Houston.
When chef Monica Pope opened the original Beaver’s on Decatur near Washington Avenue in 2007, it quickly became known for excellent cocktails and hearty fare, such as the big chicken-fried steaks made with real steaks, not cheaper pounded cuts. During its heyday, just some of the rising stars that worked at Beaver’s were Mike Sammons (who just opened his own bar, How To Survive On Land & Sea, after several years at 13 celsius and Mongoose versus Cobra) chef Jonathan “J.J.” Jones, Bobby Heugel and Kevin Floyd. The latter two went on to open Anvil Bar & Refuge, The Hay Merchant and several other bars in Houston. (Floyd is no longer working with Heugel and is instead working on opening a brand-new, family-friendly bar and restaurant.)
It took a decade for Beaver’s owners Jon Deal and Todd Johnson to open its first and only spinoff, Beaver’s West. Overseeing the kitchen was chef Arash Karat, a known pitmaster who established a respectable barbecue program along with fun Southern dishes. Karat is now in charge of the menu at the bigger-and-better Buffalo Bayou Brewery, which opened this past November.
Right after that, the owners, along with new partners Jeff Kaplan and Adam Brackman of Axelrad, closed the original Beaver’s for an overhaul that took nine months. When it reopened in April 2018, Jones, who had left several years prior, was back in the kitchen.
Unfortunately, his presence and a slightly healthier culinary perspective didn’t change the fact that the reincarnated Beaver’s was not long for this world. It closed in August 2018, and at that point, the ownership group split up, with Deal and Johnson focused on Beaver’s West, and Pope, Brackman and Kaplan overseeing the original location, which reopened as pop-up kitchen concept Decatur Bar & Pop-Up Factory. That did not have a long life, either, despite immediate national coverage, talented new chef Evelyn Garcia, and a bar program established by Leslie Krockenberger. It closed in October 2019, only about a year after it opened.
Deal and Johnson’s statement on closing Beaver’s West is as follows:
“Beaver’s played an integral part in building farm-to-table food culture and inspiring a progressive cocktail movement in Houston. It has been our pleasure to serve some of Houston’s best food and drinks for the past twelve years. Our group is extremely proud to have had a small hand in helping launch the careers of Bobby Heugel, Kevin Floyd, Claire Sprouse, Jonathan Jones and the newest rising star in Houston, Chef Arash Kharat. These former Beavers continue to change the way Houstonians eat and drink. Monica Pope is a legend, and the community of creative food and beverage stars that she helped foster through opening Beaver’s will live on for years to come.”
Despite the bumps over the past few years, a 12-year run is a pretty good tenure. Considering that fully built-out restaurants are a hot commodity in Houston’s ever-changing food scene, it could be only a matter of time before totally new ones sprout up in the former Beaver’s locations.
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.