On February 22, CultureMap broke the news: This Sunday's brunch will be the final meal for year-old Paul's Kitchen. Though parking woes and a difficult location made continuing service at the ultra-local scratch restaurant unfeasible, owner Paul Miller and chef Paul Lewis' collaboration will continue in the form of a banquet hall called the Merrill House, which will open March 2.
But don't expect the 300-seat space to end life as a clearinghouse for bridezillas and bar mitzvah boys. That will doubtless keep the Merrill House going, but foodies with no major life events on the horizon will have occasion to visit, too.
"Continuing to do brunch is one possibility," Lewis says of the extensive weekly buffet that includes house-cured bacon. More certain is a continuation of special events such as the Saint Arnold beer dinner the restaurant hosted this week. Wine and beer dinners will be one aspect of the business. So will pop-up collaborations between Lewis and other local chefs. "The Houston community of chefs is pretty tight, pretty good," he says of seeking opportunities to work with his peers.
As part of the GR8 Plate Hospitality group, Lewis' charcuterie may live on not only at Merrill House but in dishes at Union Kitchen, Jax Grill and food truck the Rollin' Kitchen. The chef foresees supplying the truck with house-made sausages, while dry cures such as pepperoni will appear on brick oven pizzas at Union Kitchen.
And that kitchen garden that supplied Paul's Kitchen with many of its fruits and veggies? Lewis will continue to work with Union Kitchen Bellaire manager and the company's resident gardener, Michael Williams, on filling those large beds behind the restaurant.
"Citrus has done really well for us this year," he says. Leafy greens that will supply spring and summer meals will go in soon. It's an obvious metaphor for the space's rebirth, but lucky for locavores, in some ways, the more things change, the more they remain the same.