Friday, October 8, 2010

A facelift for Browning's

Posted By on Fri, Oct 8, 2010 at 9:13 PM


The Saltillo Plate lives!

But this might be a Pyrrhic victory for Browning's faithful who've been supping on nostalgia all these years: The new Browning's, scheduled to open in 60 days, is decidedly not going to be the old Browning's. New owner Steve Davis, CEO of Riverside Bank, isn't afraid to speak candidly about traditional Browning's fare: "I never was a big fan of the food."

That said, he seems to have a good grasp on the cult of the place, and while he's planning some dramatic changes, he's seems to also be committed to retaining enough of the vibe of the place to satisfy a healthy chunk of its followers.

For instance:

*The traditional hot sauce, cheese dip and punch will join the Saltillo plate and a few other select items on a "tribute" section of the new menu, which otherwise, according to Davis, will be "a Tex-Mex hybrid between Mi Cocina in Dallas and Cantina Laredo with a little bit of Cozymel's and a coastal flare." The continued existence of the hot sauce and cheese dip won't exclude the new Browning's from also offering updated takes on salsa and cheese dip.

*While the restaurant has been almost entirely gutted from the inside — "the building was so old and in such disrepair, it needed to be virtually rebuilt from the inside," Davis said — the front room remains mostly intact, and the remodeled seating area, which will be expanded by 50 seats, will feature the same pine wood and "ranchero-style decor" found in the front room. The beloved donkey mural room (pictured above) remains.

*While Davis wants to catch a late-night crowd on Thursday through Saturday with live music ("keeping in mind that this is a neighborhood, it won't be a wild beer joint," he said, perhaps anticipating hoots from the Heights neighborhood association), he said during the dining hours, he wants the restaurant to retain a family atmosphere. Which means keeping the menu moderately priced, "lower in some cases than the most recent Browning's menu," he said.

*Davis said he's gotten old photos of the restaurant from the grandchildren of the Browning's that he's going to hang.

More changes: The remodel will see the roof repaired and the ceiling raised. The hours will extend to seven days a week with big brunches on Saturday and Sunday.

Davis doesn't have restaurant experience. But he's partnered with Jast Partners, a Dallas restaurant group managed by Nicholas Galanos, the former COO of TGI Friday's and Ruby Tuesday's, and Chris Meaker, a former operating executive at Olive Garden. Jast, founded five years ago, reflects Galanos and Meaker's desire to work more in the ground floor of food business after years at corporate level, Davis said. The group owns Texas-area franchises of Burger Girl and Lemon Bar. Davis said Jast, which will manage Browning's, is taking on the Heights restaurant with an eye towards franchising.

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