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Houstonians have been clamoring for restaurateur Ronnie Killen to open a restaurant inside the Loop. Now they're getting their wish: Killen is planning to take over the space formerly occupied by Hickory Hollow at 101 Heights Blvd. in the Heights.

His plan, first reported by CultureMap, isn't far from what existed before: A Southern comfort food restaurant called Killen's featuring some of the top menu items from his existing concepts: Killen's Barbecue, Killen's Steakhouse, Killen's STQ, and Killen's TMX.

"We'll have brisket enchiladas there, tamales there, we'll have a little bit of TMX stuff there, we'll have a burger there, but more like what we do at the steakhouse," he said. "I'm excited about it because it's what we do. It's like if you come to my house, these are the items that we'll do."

And to keep some of the Hickory Hollow magic alive, there will certainly be chicken fried steak, chicken fried chicken, and other down-home delights. He plans to make his own biscuits and cornbread, too. The banana pudding? Also coming over.

Diners should expect a slightly higher price point than Hickory Hollow for comfort food, but also expect plenty of the unexpected. For example, Killen is thinking about once-weekly barbecue specials (he doesn't want to be fully competitive with Truth BBQ just down the street), and he has his eye on doing a killer pork chop.

Killen said he was first contacted about the space about eight months ago by Braun Enterprises, who purchased the property from Tony Riedel of Hickory Hollow, a location coveted as it's within walking distance from the new Buffalo Heights development that'll include an H-E-B. At the time Killen was busy getting ready for Killen's TMX and preparing a new steakhouse location in The Woodlands, so he put it on the back burner. But when Hickory Hollow closed in January, the talks began to ramp up between Braun and Killen; according to the restaurateur, Braun had its eyes on him for the space.

"They wanted us in there really from the start," Killen said. 

Expect construction crews to start working on Killen's soon, once they're finished with the nearly opened Woodlands location of Killen's Steakhouse (slated for April). Killen will be changing the layout of the dining room and kitchen, painting the exterior, and re-paving the parking lot, among other things. Killen said he's confident his team should be able to get the restaurant up and running for a swift opening (mid-summer is certainly possible).

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