Rendering of Lyric Market, set to open in late 2020.

A somewhat forgotten and always soon-to-open Downtown food hall has a new operator. Lyric Market, which was supposed to open in 2019 at 411 Smith St., will now be unveiled in late 2020 with Hospitality HQ running the show.

Hospitality HQ is a food hall management company founded by chef Akhtar Nawab, a protégé of Tom Colicchio, who made his name running restaurants in New York. Lyric isn't Hospitality HQ's only project, as it also operates concepts in Brooklyn, New York; Omaha, Nebraska; New Orleans; and Washington D.C., plus an upcoming hall in Chicago.

In 2019, Lyric developer US Property Management parted ways with the food hall's first operator, Clark Cooper Concepts (Coppa Osteria, the Kitchen at the Dunlavy), then brought in a consulting firm in the interim. Now, it seems full steam ahead with Nawab and Hospitality HQ.

“Houston has such a rich and diverse food culture, championing the city’s reputation as a culinary destination. Houstonians have truly worldly palates and an insatiable interest for all kinds of cuisines, which make the possibilities endless for a food hall," said Nawab in a press release. "We're excited to have the opportunity to be in Houston and serve such a dynamic community."

Hospitality HQ is promising self-contained vendor areas, modular table seating, and takeout and contact-less pay. When it opens—again, scheduled for late 2020—it'll be humming 6 a.m.–midnight Mon–Fri, 8 a.m.–2 p.m. Sat, and 10 a.m.–8 p.m. Sun. 

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