Upcoming downtown Houston food hall announces new operator

Lyric Market, the long-awaited food hall going up at 411 Smith St. in downtown’s Theater District, has announced its new operator.

Hospitality HQ, an operator of restaurants and food halls in New York City; Omaha, Nebraska; New Orleans; and Washington, D.C., will take over Lyric when it opens later this year. Hospitality HQ is helmed by Akhtar Nawab, an acclaimed New York chef.

“Houston has such a rich and diverse food culture, championing the city’s reputation as a culinary destination,” Nawab said. “Houstonians have truly worldly palates and an insatiable interest for all kinds of cuisines, which make the possibilities endless for a food hall. We’re excited to have the opportunity to be in Houston and serve such a dynamic community.”

Hospitality HQ will implement takeout, modular table seating and contactless pay systems at Lyric, all now typical amid the coronavirus pandemic. Vendor bays will also be self-contained. Unlike other Houston food halls, which draw on local talent, Lyric plans to feature chefs from across the country.

Lyric had a tumultuous 2019. It split with its previous operator, Houston-based Clark Cooper Concepts. At the time, it was expected to open by the end of 2019, with between 22 and 24 food and retail vendors.

At the time of the split, a representative declined to say why Clark Cooper Concepts and Lyric Market parted ways or what they had planned next.

Also last year, Bravery Chef Hall opened at Hines’ Aris Market Square apartment tower at 409 Travis St. and Understory opened at Bank of America Tower at 800 Capitol St. They aren’t the only downtown food halls – Finn Hall opened in late 2018 in The Jones on Main’s JPMorgan Chase & Co. Building at 712 Main St. Downtown Houston’s original food hall — Conservatory — moved to East Downtown earlier this year, though it has yet to debut in its new space due to the pandemic. Underground Hall took over Conservatory’s former space downtown and was only open a few weeks before the pandemic hit.

Lyric Market will be open Monday through Friday, 6 a.m. to 12 a.m., Saturday 8 a.m. to 2 a.m. and Sunday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. when it opens later this year.

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