Rockhouse Southern Kitchen, Led by Chef Jabril Riddick, to Open on March 20

The hospitality group behind The Warwick is opening a new southern dining experience.

By Shelby Stewart March 16, 2023

When Billy Bluesthe venerable blues club and bar located at 6025 Richmond Avenue, shuttered in 2001 after an ongoing dispute with the landlord, the space closed for a bit before becoming Diablo Loco Sports Bar. When that also closed, in 2018, there were looming questions about what ultimately would become of the space. Eventually, local proprietors of The Warwick and Prospect Park—Rob Wright, Mazen Baltagi, Steven Rogers, and Kurt Agomuo—took on the project. 

The four have been known to reimagine some of Houston’s most historic spaces, “​​reviving them, bringing back some of their traditional elements, and modernizing the overall vibe,” a press release stated. One of the group’s more successful projects is The Warwick, a popular southern restaurant at the corner of Westheimer and Fountain View. Now, on the heels of The Warwick’s popularity, a sister restaurant, called Rockhouse Southern Kitchen, will soon make its opening at the old Billy Blues location. 

The interior at Rockhouse Southern Kitchen. 

Rockhouse Southern Kitchen’s juke joint motif is evident from the moment you walk in, as guests are immediately greeted by a repurposed jukebox hostess stand. Throughout the restaurant, the walls are adorned with black and white images of some of the world’s most renowned R&B, soul, and rock musicians, including Diana Ross, Elvis Presley, and Jimi Hendrix. Plenty of Instagrammable moments fill the interior; a sign that reads “a live music joint” illuminates the main dining room, and an out-of-commission remodeled food truck serves as a television stand. 

Nicki Dooms of NHI Design masterminded the redesign, and said her design approach included warm tones to help set the scene. The main dining area includes a large bar, and an outdoor stage, which will regularly host live musicians. To maintain the integrity of the original space, Dooms incorporated old and new elements, like copper tiles and tabletops, to coincide with the authenticity of the original aged concrete flooring. “I love recreating scenes, especially with spaces that have rich, historic elements,” Dooms said.

Appetizers at Rockhouse. 

The renovation almost makes you forget the restaurant was once Diablo Loco, and that’s precisely the point. With Wright leading the charge, the ethos of the space is more aligned with a live music venue, and a return to its former blues glory. “We wanted to go back to the roots of southern culture, where music and good food are the celebration,” Wright said in a statement. 

Decor at Rockhouse. 

The concept of the southern kitchen is a reclamation of Black southern traditions, utilizing old family recipes with farm-to-table ingredients. The oxtail and grits are made in house, with a recipe passed down from generations of Wrights, and the jerk chicken nachos burst with flavor. The menu also includes eclectic dishes like a creole pizza, oxtail egg rolls, and more classic southern dishes like fried chicken, catfish with collard greens, and smoked gouda mac and cheese. The flavors and musical theme extends to the drinks, too. Jazzy-sounding cocktails such as Hollywood Swinging, Lady Sings The Blues, Smooth Criminal, and Ike & Tina all capture musical moments in time. 

The full Rockhouse experience will be dinner-and-a-show style, where the “nightly musical oblations will leave you coming back for more,” Wright said. Guests can also expect brass bands and live saxophone artists which will rotate nightly. 

“We’re excited to reopen this historic location and show Houston what we did with it,” Wright said. “We’ve spent a lot of time reviving the design, focusing on elevating the atmosphere, and zeroing in on those little details that truly make all the difference.”

Rockhouse Southern Kitchen is located at 6025 Richmond Avenue, and will be open Monday through Thursday 4 p.m. to midnight; Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. to 2 a.m., and Sunday 11 a.m. to midnight.

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