After 85 years, Lankford is having fun with new ideas in Bellaire
Lankford, the 85-year-old iconic burger spot located in an old grocery in Houston, is hiring staff and about to open its second location, in Bellaire — but while they’re keeping the burger recipes that have gained the restaurant national attention front-and-center, they’re mixing things up and adding new features for Bellaire.
In the “something for everyone” vein, they’re creating a cozy 7-by-9-foot play area for youngsters (and are seeking ideas about how to equip it), while also installing a full bar for grownups.
The bar will serve everything from margaritas to a classic old-fashioned, along with wines, 28 draft beers — and “boozy” milkshakes.
In addition to burgers and sides, owners promise the menu will feature entrees and more options for appetizers and salads.
Lankford will be open late (at least by Bellaire standards), with hours of 11 a.m.-10 p.m. weekdays and 7 a.m.-10 p.m. on weekends. Breakfast/brunch will be offered through 3 p.m.
With hiring underway and the sign up, Lankford is hoping for a Feb. 24 opening. The location is the old Brisket BarBQ at 5108 Bissonnet St. in Bellaire.
Chick-fil-A loses playground, gains more seats and drive-thrus
The Vanderbilt Square Chick-fil-A closed down for part of January for remodeling, and when it reopened, the playground was gone, causing some consternation and speculation on social media. The most popular guesses about motivation were that it was too hard to keep clean or too big a liability to insure.
Juli Salvagio, owner/operator of the location, said the restaurant happily maintained the playground for years and accepted the “huge liability” playgrounds entail, but that in the end, it was a victim of the location’s success.
“This restaurant was originally built to accommodate a much smaller volume,” she explained. “While we would have loved to preserve the playground, our volume is such that Chick-fil-A Inc. designed our new drive-thru cockpit giving our team more room to deliver food through the drive-thru and curbside, as well as for our carryout and catering.”
That gobbled up seating, she said, but the new design offers some larger tables for families and groups.
To compensate, Salvagio is planning activities for the youngsters and developing party packages for groups — that could include an appearance from the chain’s celebrity cow. She’s looking for new ways to connect with local schools and youth activities, too, she said.
The expansion on Holcombe isn’t done yet, according to Salvagio, as two more drive-thru lanes will be added later this year on the “exit” side of the building through the existing parking lot.
She and her team have also opened a new drive-thru and carryout-only location at Main Street and Kirby Drive and are working at adding outdoor seating there.
New Village coffeehouse brews up empowerment
Bitty & Beau’s Coffee, a North Carolina-based concept that has garnered national attention as a “radically inclusive roastery” for its hiring practices, has opened its first Houston location at 2367 Rice Blvd.
The Rice Village location, as all 24 across the nation, employs individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. It was founded seven years ago by Amy and Ben Wright, who named the business after their two youngest children, both with Down Syndrome. They now employ more than 400 people with disabilities, earning them coverage in national publications and broadcasts and being designated a Hero of the Year by CNN in 2017.
The Wrights point out that 80 percent of of people with disabilities are unemployed, and that work creates “a path for people with disabilities to become valued, accepted and included in every community.”
Openings include Kriti Kitchen in Weslayan Plaza, 4010 Bissonnet St., now serving individual and family style Greek specialties…Bluestone Lane, part of an Australia-inspired coffeehouse and café, which planned to open at 2414 University Blvd. in Rice Village the week of Feb. 15…the hard-to-miss glass and neon Rice Box, a Chinese-American takeout spot that started out as a food truck and now has four brick-and-mortar Houston locations, including the glitzy new corner at 5504 Morningside Dr.
— Charlotte Aguilar
This article first appeared in the February 2023 edition of Bellaire•West University Essentials Magazine