Rice Village Food Hall Politan Row Shutters

After a strong opening, the hall couldn't rebound from Covid-19 impacts.

By Timothy Malcolm November 13, 2020

Politan Row before opening in late 2019.

Image: Jenn Duncan

In what's one of the major culinary casualties of the Covid-19 pandemic, Rice Village food hall Politan Row has shut down permanently.

CultureMap first reported the news of Politan Row's closing. 

Will Donaldson, chief executive officer of Politan Group, offered a statement:

"Politan Row Houston opened one year ago, giving us just four short months to serve Rice Village before mandatory shut downs. We've been closed due to the pandemic much longer than we were actually open. This timing has been tough, especially for a group of small business owners. We want to give a huge thanks to all those wonderful customers that supported us, our staff who gave 110 percent, and our talented group of entrepreneurs who developed compelling concepts within our walls.

"Politan Row Houston will unfortunately close its doors, but we want to encourage and support all the food and beverage entrepreneurs that are pressing on. Many from Politan Row are already developing new businesses designed for the pandemic and beyond. Please consider patronizing these chef-owners who have worked tirelessly during this pandemic in their new ventures."

The food hall opened in November 2019 at 2445 Times Blvd, boasting a collection of upstart chefs and a centerpiece bar, all meant to attract Rice University students, young adults, and district shoppers. Early on, concepts like Victoria Elizondo's La Cochinita, Evelyn Garcia's Kin, Phillip Kim's Breaking Bao, and Masaru Fukuda's Pacha Nikkei thrived, but Covid-19 closed the hall to the public. Once it reopened, the lack of heavy foot traffic in the area meant a relatively barren space much of the time.

Last week we reported that Elizondo had left the food hall and will open a Mexican street food-inspired food truck in the Heights. Joao Nelson, operator of Italian food vendor Bronson's House, said in October that he closed because of low sales.

Meanwhile, Politan Group has temporarily closed its Chicago version of Politan Row, hoping to restart it in spring 2021. It also owns Politan Row Miami, St. Roch Market and Auction House Market in New Orleans, and Cultivation Food Hall in Jackson, Mississippi.

Late Friday Rice Village Senior General Manager Aj Coffee released a statement about the departure of Politan Row and the future of the property:

"Politan Row has announced it has closed its doors due to the unforeseen difficulties resulting from Covid-19, during its first year of operations. The chef-driven food hall concept has been a celebration of Rice Village's commitment to support local and regional talent in the culinary space, and the Village will continue to pursue and support unique concepts like this one, which connect visitors through food.

"Rice Village will continue to work closely with the remaining vendors to facilitate the transition. Future plans for the space have not yet been determined."

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