Austin restaurateurs cook up expansion in other big Texas cities

  • Will Anderson
  • 02/9/22

A couple of Austin-based restaurant groups are growing their presences in other Texas markets.

Hai Hospitality Group has set a Feb. 23 opening date for Loro in The Heights neighborhood of Houston, Houston Business Journal reported. Loro is the brainchild of culinary heavyweights Aaron Franklin of Franklin Barbecue and Tyson Cole of Uchi, both James Beard Award winners. The first location of the Asian smokehouse opened in Austin in 2018 and a second opened in Dallas last summer.

The long-awaited Loro Heights is located in a former church. Austin-based Michael Hsu Office of Architecture oversaw design and preserved the original 5,500-square-foot building, which was built in the 1940s.

The menu features dishes created by Cole and Franklin as well as Jack Yoss, vice president of culinary; Mike Perez, Loro regional chef; and Marcos Leal, Loro Heights chef de cuisine.

"We cannot wait to get the doors open on this new Loro location in the Heights,” Cole said in a statement. "We were able to repurpose this incredible church structure with a truly welcoming community feel, and now we are ready to start slicing some brisket and serving [slushies]."

Hai Hospitality is the parent company of restaurants such as Uchi, Loro and Uchiko in Texas, Miami and Denver. In Houston, it already has a location of Uchi.

Meanwhile, Pluckers Wing Bar opened Feb. 7 near North Star Mall in San Antonio after some delays, San Antonio Business Journal reported. It is the third location in the metro for Pluckers, following openings in 2018 in Selma and 2019 in San Antonio.

To amplify hiring efforts, the company is offering a signing bonus for 90 days after a starting date, according to SABJ.

"We’re proud that as a Texas-born company, we’re growing our footprint in this incredible market that's already been so welcoming," Pluckers co-founder Dave Paul said in a statement.

Pluckers sees room to grow in San Antonio. Co-founder Sean Greenberg previously told SABJ the city's Far West Side is another area the company is interested in for a possible restaurant.

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