Back in early November, steak guru Ron Killen and burger whiz Ricky Craig announced a joint steakhouse project in the Heights. It was to feature Texas grass-fed Wagyu beef and sit next door to Craig's Hubcap Grill location on West 19th Street. They planned to remodel and extend the Mr. Shine Car Care structure on the site, and they estimated a February opening date that seemed optimistic.
It was. When their landlord, a Heights contractor, submitted the build-out plans to the City of Houston, they learned that the property now fell in the 100-year floodplain, the lines of which were redrawn in 2004. If they wanted to proceed, they would have to raise the existing structure by 3 feet, and elevate any new construction to match.
Ultimately Craig, Killen and their landlord decided it would be easier and more sensible to bulldoze the Mr. Shine structure and construct at the mandated height from the ground up. They are currently waiting to see if the City will approve their new plans, which involves a core manufactured unit of log and stone which they'll extend once it's in place.
The timetable? "I don't even know," admits Killen. "Normally we could finish in three months, but we have to wait on the City to approve the new plans."
So what about his plans for a Killen's BBQ restaurant in the building now occupied by his flagship Killen's Steakhouse in Pearland? That project hit a major snag, too, when the restaurant space where he was planning to relocate the steakhouse turned out not to be available, after all.
Now he's buying a former day-care building at 3613 E. Broadway in Pearland's Old Town that he'll turn into the barbecue restaurant — "it has barbecue joint written all over it," says Killen" — leaving the steakhouse where it is.
He's already got his beer license approved for the new place, and he says the best case scenario is that he'll be able to open in 4 months. But he's definitely feeling snakebit. "Sometimes I just wish I could get into a building," he groans, having had deals fall through at the old Stella Sola location and in Pearland, not to mention the floodplain complication in the Heights.
He feels ready with his barbecue product, however. Killen's beef short ribs recently won the annual Best Bites competition at the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo. And Killen has just signed on as a sponsor of the upcoming Houston BBQ Festival, which means he'll be on site for the event March 24 with samples of his beef ribs.