Located in a array of restaurants and businesses that allotment a courtyard, The Refuge Steakhouse & Bourbon Bar offers a casual-elegant dining acquaintance and appearance wood-fired steaks, seafood and pastas. “We additionally affection the better bourbon alternative in North Houston and the friendliest account that you aloof can’t acquisition anywhere abroad in town,” buyer Mark Zientek says. In accession to the on-site restaurant operations, off-site accouterment constitutes about 30 percent of the restaurant’s business.
Ever aback he enrolled in academy at Texas A&M, Mark Zientek dreamed of aperture his own foodservice establishment. Admitting he majored in economics and political science, he had formed in accommodation aback he was young, abrasion dishes, affable and disposed bar. Following graduation, he formed in accumulated restaurants and hotels. In 2002, he abutting The Woodlands Development Company, allowance plan and managing all the accommodation locations at The Woodlands, a adept planned association in The Woodlands, Texas, a arctic suburb of Houston. He congenital a acceptability for giving hands-on service, advantageous acid absorption to detail and developing allusive relationships with barter and suppliers.
The Refuge Steakhouse & Bourbon Bar shares a courtyard with added establishments.
Following his daughter’s graduation from college, Zientek took a bound and opened The Refuge Bar & Bistro in The Woodlands in 2013. (See FE&S, “Small Amplitude Case Study: The Refuge,” January 2018.) This venture’s success accustomed Zientek and his ally to accessible The Refuge Steakhouse & Bourbon Bar in February 2017, aloof a 20-minute drive from the aboriginal restaurant.
When guests arrive, Zientek greets them and visits with them while they dine. He applies a actual hands-on admission to restaurant management, explaining, “We allegation set ourselves afar from added restaurants and accomplish every person’s acquaintance actuality different and special.”
A rustic, affected ambient additionally greets guests. The restaurant appearance walls fabricated of reclaimed barge from old churches, chestnut beam tiles, Edison lights blind at assorted levels and custom-designed tables and chairs. A bound affectation of clandestine whiskey and bourbon lockers sits abreast the entrance, captivation bottles that guests can acquirement cost-plus from the restaurant and accept aloft appeal at their tables.
The dining allowance allows angle into the kitchen. The interior’s earth-tone palette contributes to the rustic affected ambience.
“Mark had a bright administration for how he capital the amplitude to feel,” says artist Nathan Moore, buyer of NM21 Architecture Studio in Houston. “The use of reclaimed wood, brick and chestnut finishes lit by the balmy afterglow of the abeyant ablaze accessories aloft actualize an inviting, adequate amplitude that offers areas ill-fitted for a added private, affectionate dining experience. These additionally acquiesce guests to be added amusing about the bar and alfresco patio space.”
A 100-year-old reclaimed butcher-block aperture leads into a applicant acknowledgment captivation beer and wine.A reclaimed butcher-block aperture leads into a applicant acknowledgment captivation beer and wine. The project’s foodservice artist and planner, John Egnor, principal, JME Accommodation in The Woodlands, Texas, retrofit the acknowledgment application this aperture from a Chicago boner boutique that Zientek begin online. For the restrooms, Zientek apprenticed with a baby lighting aggregation in Mississippi to transform pipes into ablaze fixtures.
“We absorb 3,800 aboveboard feet, which is actual baby about to the cardinal of barter we serve,” Zientek says. “We called a active breadth and capital to be abiding we could aerate our accumulation allowance rather than architecture a huge amplitude with a huge overhead.”
Food assembly takes abode in 750 aboveboard feet. Aloof as at The Refuge Bar & Bistro, the architecture aggregation maximized every inch of space. “The amplitude is abundantly baby for the aggregate of aggregate produced here,” says Egnor. “The card had to be limited, and we had to accept a assertive aggregate of amplitude to accommodated bloom administration regulations for warewashing, air-conditioned storage, sinks and bankrupt hoods. We had to be abiding we had no cross-traffic for apple-pie and bedraggled dishes. Without a doubt, this restaurant operates at best ability and produces the accomplished acquirement per aboveboard bottom as I’ve anytime designed.”
Food arrives up to 6 times a day from 7 a.m. until 1 p.m. at the restaurant’s aback door. “The amplitude is so baby that we allegation accept abounding orders daily,” says Vincent Alexander, controlling chef. “As anon as the aliment arrives, we anon abolish aliment deliveries blocking the doorway.” Agents abode aliment in a applicant acknowledgment or absorbed applicant freezer. “One of my comestible advisers consistently said, ‘Work does not go into the freezer; alone accomplished assignment goes into the freezer.’ We chase that advice and use the freezer for specific instances like autumn items such as hamburger patties for ample events.”
Food charcoal in the acknowledgment for a abbreviate time — usually below than 24 hours — afore agents adapt it for the atramentous meal or catered events. Agents booty the capacity either to algid or hot basic areas. Ceramic, anesthetized tiles beleaguer the alertness and affable areas. “The tiles accommodate cleanable surfaces and don’t baker in the hot temperatures surrounding the wood-fired chargrill,” Egnor says.
The accessories band includes fryers, a six-burner range, flattop, salamander with ovens beneath, cocked refrigerators and a chargrill.
“I’ve restructured the kitchen operation so the advance baker focuses on the capacity advancing in and out of the applicant acknowledgment and not on the assembly line,” Alexander says. “He prepares vegetables, processes, portions and rotates these card items as if he was alive on the line. He sets the accepted for anybody alive in the restaurant.”
Staff adapt salads, the cheese and charcuterie boards and desserts at a baby algid abdomen abject to the ancillary of the hot assembly line. All desserts, such as red clover block and amber truffle cake, broil in a half-size combi oven that sits in the baby algid pantry.
Another agents affiliate cooks vegetables in a baby combi oven. Agents additionally use a six-burner ambit and baby flattop to baker added vegetables, seafood such as shrimp for linguini scampi and bourbon amber anesthetized salmon, colossal agglomeration backtalk cakes, pork abdomen and ancillary dishes. A alteration oven below toasts breads and flatbreads and roasts Brussels sprouts and cauliflower gratin.
Alexander break bottomward cases of meat as they appear in and begins annihilation anon afterwards accepting deliveries. “A sous chef is in allegation of the hot band and helps with butchering,” he says. This enables him to absorb all morning annihilation and leaves him accessible for the restaurant’s commons and catered events. He and agents use a mixer with a grinder basic to bullwork the trim from steaks to use for burgers, sausages and salami.
In October 2018 the owners installed a boner room. “We’ll accept tighter controls and drive bottomward costs by purchasing in bulk,” Alexander says. “We’ll be able to action added charcuterie at the bar.”
The annihilation breadth contains three custom-designed air-conditioned and humidity-controlled compartments for abating prosciutto and sausages. A baby beverage chamber, which holds bologna that age up to 40 days, stands adjoining to guests who appetite to feast in this breadth of the restaurant. Egnor researched all the abeyant options to abutment this meat crumbling and abating case. “What the buyer and chef capital to actualize does not exist, so we sourced the appropriate controls and apparatus to actualize a one-of-a-kind display/aging and abating chiffonier to abutment the appropriate convalescent meats and age-old steaks the chef wants to advertise in his menu,”he explains.
A annihilation allows agents to action greater card array and ascendancy costs of meat items.
The wood-fired chargrill, though, receives the best chump interest. Agents associates use a caster to accession and lower anniversary ancillary of the barbecue to baker card items at specific temperatures. For example, they lower one ancillary abutting to the hot charcoal for affable the six steak options at 1,000 degrees F and above. They baker lamb and pork on this ancillary as well. Agents associates accession the added ancillary to baker craven and angle such as skin-on red snapper at 500 degrees F. “Each alcove has a abstracted blaze box with its own wood, which gives the aliment adapted actuality its flavor,” Egnor says.
“We allegation pay accurate absorption to the absolute affable action because we don’t accept a constant blaze like you accept on gas charbroilers,” Alexander says. “We accept to watch the affable by eye. This is absolutely a ability that allegation be learned.”
The two-basket fryers aftermath steak fries, Buffalo bounce rolls, absurd blooming tomatoes and calamari. “We put in a alien oil arrangement because the restaurant doesn’t accept the amplitude to abundance oil,” Egnor says. “A aggregation runs pipes that affix to the fryers, and already a week, in the average of the night, their agents arrives in a barter and takes out old oil and pumps in new oil.”
All the aliment comes calm at a advanced counter. A bottle allotment separates it from the dining area. Servers appear to this expediting window to aces up plates of aliment and bear them to guests. “There is no allowance in the aback of the abode to aces up the plates,” Egnor says.
The restaurant offers feast contest during breakfast and cafeteria hours. For off-site catered events, agents either booty algid aliment to the armpit and calefaction it in accessories there or admission with hot aliment in carriageable hot boxes.
A full-service bar appearance a formed chestnut countertop, four 36-bottle wine coolers and 12 beers on tap. “We installed two levels of bottle accumulator so agents can consistently get to the glassware,” Egnor says. The exceptional liquor is stored on four levels that agents admission by aggressive a library ladder. Agents adapt flavored bourbons by smoker the liquor in a bright bottle skull. The restaurant additionally creates it own signature flavored bourbons (varieties accommodate vanilla, raspberry honey, coffee, atramentous blooming pepper), and they are consistently crumbling a new butt for all to experience.
Staff ascend the library ladder to admission exceptional liquor. The bar contains 12 abstract beers.
The bar additionally contains a backbar cooler, an underbar ice chest, an underbar blender abject and an undercounter warewasher. The ice apparatus produces ample cubes, while addition ice apparatus for the restaurant card produces accepted cubes for baptize and bendable drinks.
Alexander intends to abide loyal to locally produced food, such as craven and beef. He works with distributors to piggyback deliveries with added restaurants to abbreviate deliveries. He sole-sources dairy so barter drivers can restock these capacity and accomplish abiding the restaurant receives the freshest articles available.
Staff ascend the library ladder to admission exceptional liquor. The bar contains 12 abstract beers.
“To accumulate this operating calmly and advance the aerial quality, you’ve got to be on-site accomplishing the work,” Alexander says. “You allegation accord and accord agents associates direction.”
The approaching promises advance and expansion. Within a year, Zientek and his aggregation will accessible a accouterment ability amid about two hours from the restaurant, which will abutment their beat added into the community.
Vincent Alexander, controlling chef, The Woodlands Steakhouse & Bourbon Bar. Alexander abutting his accepted position at the end of July 2017. Previously he formed at The Woodlands Resort and Conference Center, the San Luis Resort in Galveston, Texas, the Four Seasons in Houston and the Houston Country Club.
John Egnor, principal, JME Hospitality, The Woodlands, Texas. Egnor began alive in accommodation architecture added than 35 years ago. JME Accommodation provides architecture for all segments of the accommodation industry. Two almost-opened projects accommodate assemblage and resort hotels at The Gaylord Rockies in Denver and Gaylord Chula Vista in San Diego.
Nathan Moore, arch and architect, NM21 Architecture Studio, Houston. Afore starting his own close in 2011, Moore formed with a baby design-build close in the Galleria breadth of Houston. NM21’s 200 projects accommodate Alta Mesa Holdings LP in The Woodlands and Houston and assorted projects for Workforce Solutions, a analysis of the ancestor aggregation Baker Ripley.
Mark Zientek, managing partner, The Refuge Steakhouse & Bourbon Bar and The Refuge Bistro & Bar. Afore aperture this restaurant and bar, Zientek opened The Refuge Bar & Bistro in The Woodlands in 2013. Previously he formed at Carlton Woods Country Club and The Woodlands Development Aggregation abreast Houston.
Equipment Key1. Ice bin2. Ice maker w/out bin3. Floor sink3a. Duke sink3b. Soiled bowl bead w/3 alcove sink3c. Underbar duke sink3d. Deck-mount faucet3e. Wall-mount faucet with sprayer4. Mop closet5. Wire shelving5a. Wall-mount shelving5b. Shelving5c. Adjustable axle shelving6. Assignment counter7. Warewasher, door-type7a. Undercounter warewasher8. Bankrupt hood8a. Makeup hood9. Arbor slides9a. Wall-mount pot rack9b. Pot and pan rack, bifold bar10. Bowl table w/rack shelves10a. Worktable10b. Meat breaking table10c. Worktable w/enclosed abject and accessible shelf11. Applicant cooler11a. Evaporator coil11b. Refrigerator rail11c. Reach-in refrigerator11d. Worktop freezer11e. Ice chest11f. Backbar cooler11g. Underbar ice chest12. Aliment slicer13. Drawers14. Adverse mixer15. Pan slides16. Microwave/convection oven16a. Microwave oven17. Wood-fired accessible charbroiler18. Ambit w/standard oven18a. Ambit w/convection oven19. Deep-fat fryer array with filter20. Drop-in hot wells w/cutting board21. Decorative calefaction lamp22. Mill work23. Soda system24. Espresso machine24a. Automatic coffee brewer25. Iced tea brewer26. Aggregate CO227. Aggregate oil system28. Cash register29. Drip pan, bottle rinser30. Air-conditioned wine captain storage31. Abstract beer dispensing head32. Drink rail32a. Underbar acceleration rail33. Underbar dry decay container34. Soda gun holder35. Underbar blender station36. Underbar fillers w/drain boards37. Hutch w/storage above38. Boner string39. Boner paper
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