In a stunning move shaking up the Houston culinary scene, Lyle Bento and J.D. Woodward have joined Sambrooks Management Company, adding heft to a group that recently acquired Star Fish, Pi Pizza, and Lee's Fried Chicken & Donuts.
Bento, whose Southern Goods never reopened following a late 2017 fire, went back to Underbelly Hospitality in July to serve as director of its catering program. His marks the second major departure at Underbelly in a month, as operations director Kevin Floyd's exit was announced last week.
According to a representative for Underbelly Hospitality, Bento had been discussing a change with owner Chris Shepherd for a while, preferring working the line over a catering situation. Underbelly recently hired Chris Bosch (formerly executive sous chef at International Smoke) to replace Bento.
For Michael Sambrooks (The Pit Room), it's a coup. Bento will serve as culinary director for Star Fish, Pi, and Lee's, and he, along with J.D. Woodward and Michael Nutt, will team up to revitalize the menu at Star Fish. A chef's tasting menu of six courses featuring their creations will be unveiled Tuesday and be offered through Thursday ($55 per person).
Sambrooks purchased Star Fish, Pi, and Lee's in late August from Cherry Pie Hospitality, which is no longer an active entity.