Food News

Group Behind Ouzo Bay and Loch Bar to Open a New Italian Restaurant

Plus, a popular food truck gets a brick-and-mortar space for Laotian cuisine.

By Timothy Malcolm June 1, 2021

Alex Smith, far left, and Eric Smith, far right, of Atlas flank Steve Radom of Radom Capital.

With Ouzo Bay and Loch Bar humming along in River Oaks, Atlas Restaurant Group is now opening a third restaurant in Houston: A yet-to-be-named Italian concept will take root in spring 2022 at Radom Capital's mixed-use development Montrose Collective.

"The success of Ouzo and Loch Bar, combined with the city’s business-friendly environment, made the decision to grow here an easy one," said Alex Smith, co-owner of Atlas Restaurant Group with his brother, Eric, in a statement. "Frankly, we love Houston and plan to continue creating new brands here under the Atlas umbrella wherever it makes sense. And Montrose Collective made absolute perfect sense."

Atlas will take a 5,500-square-foot space inside the development of more than 150,000 square feet located on Westheimer, near Grant and Crocker streets. Architect Tim Cisneros will lead the buildout, and Maryland-based designer Patrick Sutton will help outfit the place. 

A menu of pastas, charcuterie, and steaks is anticipated. Atlas operates an Italian restaurant in Baltimore called Tagliata, but a representative for the restaurant group says this will be an all-new concept.

Pho-jita, the popular food truck that fuses Thai and Mexican flavors, is making the big move.

Souli Phaduangdet, owner of Pho-jita, tells Houstonia on Tuesday that she is opening Sao Lao Thai Cafe this summer at 5013 N. Shepherd Dr. in Garden Oaks. A tipster alerted Houstonia to the news.

Sao Lao Thai Cafe will emphasize Laotian cuisine—think larb, papaya salad, crispy coconut rice dish nam khao, and other spicy, flavorful, intensely layered dishes—though Phaduangdet says she'll bring the food truck's popular street grub to the restaurant. 

"It's the food I grew up with, the recipes that I grew up cooking as a kid," says Phaduangdet. "We're introducing a lot of Laotian food to people who don't really know what Laos is."

Sao Lao will go with a fast-casual setup with counter ordering and self seating inside its 1,600-square-foot space. 

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