Years In The Making, Katy Gets A Jax Grill and The Union Kitchen Arriving Summer 2019
Houston restaurants continue to open outposts in nearby Katy at breakneck speed and for good reason. The area is flourishing as a hospitality mecca thanks to hungry patrons with disposable income and lifestyles that support dining out on the regular. Husband and wife team Paul and Doris Miller, who own Houston-based GR8 Plate Hospitality (and were named 2018 Restaurateur of the Year by the Greater Houston Restaurant Association and Outstanding Restaurateur by the Texas Restaurant Association), are jumping at the chance to own two slices of this suburban pie with the opening of their sixth location of The Union Kitchen and third location of Jax Grill.
The restaurants will anchor an entire end of NewQuest Properties’ Stableside at Falcon Landing, a 34.4-acre mixed-used dining and retail development at Gaston Road and Falcon Landing Boulevard in the Cinco Ranch area and be situated on either side of a communal green space shared by other restaurants and retailers. “A lot of people move out west [to Katy] to get a bigger house, more land, have that disposable income and really enjoy going out to eat and taking the family. When I look at the demographics meaning age group, median income, price of homes, it’s our clientele. It’s me,” says Paul, adding “When I look at Katy I see burgers, barbecue, pizza, and Mexican [food]. Jax is a more upscale version of that and then The Union Kitchen offers full service, a nice wine list and live music. I think both concepts will be a really good fit within the area that we chose.”
In Katy, guests can expect experiences similar to the existing concepts but with some modifications reflective of the new surroundings. Paul and Doris acquired Jax Grill in 2015 and made minimal aesthetic changes but the new location lends itself to a true overhaul; Paul says the hope is to create a template for future locations as the company grows (and yes, he plans to continue expanding both brands for years to come). In that vein, the 4,000 square foot Katy location will retain the garage doors popular in Houston but that also embrace the stable theme of the development. It will also house a rustic-modern feel with mixed woods, iron and other industrial design features plus lots of TVs. The result is a space geared for guests seeking quality food at an affordable price point. Paul hopes to attract students from Obra D. Tompkins High School located right across the street but also spectators attending local sports events as well as teams looking for a fun place to celebrate after a game. “Jax without a doubt is about value,” says Paul. “We have a half-pound burger for $5.25. We sell the same salmon and the same trout at Jax as at The Union Kitchen but at a completely different price point because we don’t have the same overhead. I’m able to charge less for a high quality meal. That’s where Jax really does well.”
Within its 5,000 square feet The Union Kitchen will closely mirror the crisp, cheerful modern interiors at the Ella and Washington locations with a primary goal of providing excellent customer service. “I want to see people walking away with a big smile on their face and thinking “they treated me like a rock star,” says Paul. In terms of decor, expect local reclaimed wood for the table tops, a marble bar top, bright colors for lunch and a sexier low-light vibe for evening.
The menus will also look familiar, to a point. While Jax Grill will remain the same as existing locations, The Union Kitchen will follow the lead of its existing sisters in terms of neighborhood flavor. All locations serve a group of core dishes making up about 80 percent of the menu. Customer favorites like pistachio chicken, burgers, steaks and prosciutto wrapped asparagus are always available. Chefs are granted liberty over the remaining 20 percent which enables them to add and modify dishes based on local request and demand. If the folks in Katy want chicken fried steak, ribs, more salads or new fish selection, for example, the chef can oblige. The same rules apply to the bar and wine programs so locals can look forward to staple brews and bottles with adaptations to come per customer request like specific wines or a special Scotch; milkshakes and a local soda company will be available as non-alcoholic options, too. The Union Kitchen will test out a year-round sangria program with white in summer and red in fall/winter and will also offer large format wine bottles, particularly rosé, and carafes ideal for patio pairing. Paul plans to have a full liquor license at each restaurant with variances in selections so guests can try different things at each location.
Speaking of patios, each restaurant will have a 3,000 square foot private wrap-around patio in addition to access to the massive 10,000 square foot communal green. Paul says he’s working with the property management team to develop ideas for the shared space. Cornhole and bocce ball tournaments, movie nights and live music (a stage is already part of the plan) are potential draws for visitors.
All in all, says Paul, “We just want to provide a place where people can come out and get together and have a little bit of food, have some laughs and call it a day. If you’re a coach and you’ve got 15 little kids that are all wanting burgers and are going to be running around and being loud you take them over to Jax. If you’re on a date night and you’ve got a couple of friends and you want to go out and have nice evening with a bottle of wine and a couple of steaks you go across the way to The Union Kitchen. I can’t say how excited we are to get it going.”