Two locals dedicated to serving the community have come together for a new restaurant concept to take the home of the closed Oak Forest Chill.
The journey began when Chris Jones, owner of the local business Deuce Electrical, acquired the lease to the 3542 Oak Forest Dr. location. “I used to come [to The Chill] quite a bit. I was here when it first opened and knew the owner pretty well,” Jones said.
Jones approached the owner and now has a fifteen-year lease on the space. At first Jones grabbed the property off the market because he knew the value of the area, but he didn’t have a direct plan of what he wanted to do with it.
However, he had a lot of friends in the restaurant business. One of them being Ken Bridge who has brought the community Pink’s Pizza, Shepherd Park Draught House, Ritual, Lola’s, and Republic Diner. Jones and Bridge are now partners in this new venture.
The pair met while Jones was doing electrical work in one of Bridge’s restaurants.
“We knew each other for years and have always wanted to get into business together. We had hobbies in common,” Bridge said, and Jones added that those hobbies were, “Good beer and good food.”
“My grandmother owned a bar called Millie’s in Spring Branch, and her name was Millie—When I first got this place I knew I wanted to call it that,” Jones said, mentioning that there’s not any other connection with the bar and new restaurant, only he likes the idea of using his grandmother’s name.
When Jones first met with Bridge about the potential concept, without Jones declaring a name, Bridge said, “You know what we ought to call this place? What’s your mom’s bar called?” They both loved the name “Millie’s” for a restaurant because of the comfortability it conveys.
The neighborhood should expect a whole new look at the corner of Judiway and Oak Forest. Of course, painting will give the outside a face lift, but the two partners are also preparing for additions to the inside and outside.
A patio will extend into the front—next to the covered area by the front door. They haven’t yet decided if the patio will have permanent covering as well, or have tables set up with umbrellas. The two garage doors will stay, but will be fixed in place, unable to open. So, they are keeping the look, but not usability of it.
In the back they’re adding on more space in the interior. It’ll be set up almost like a sunroom with glass closing in the area.
In another corner of the back will be a small stage for live music the restaurant goers can enjoy.
The inside will be reimagined as a casual restaurant with all the amenities. The bar that now curves widely around a corner will be removed, and a kitchen will have to be built. As Jones put it with a laugh, “No, there’s no kitchen.”
“When we talk about [the design] we want it to be a nice, approachable place. Everyone will feel welcome, whether you have on a shirt and jeans or you’re coming from work downtown.” Bridge said, “We’re more restaurant than bar; more than a bar with food.”
What’s important about this project to both Jones and Bridge is that because this is where they live, they want to focus on making the locals happy, even if that means changing the time frame they’re open (which hasn’t been established yet.)
“I want to be involved in the community,” Jones said, “It’s not about numbers to us.”
Jones revealed that one of the way he thought would be a fun way to be involved was to have hayrides in December, with the pick-up base at Millie’s.
While Bridge is well familiar with the restaurant world, Jones plans on learning the ins and outs of the restaurant biz by being involved with the day to day operations as well.
Although Jones acquired the lease almost a year ago and has been waiting months for the city to approve permeants, the remodel of the Oak Forest Chill into Millie’s should begin shortly, with a completion date in the area of four to five months from the beginning of the project.
The menu for Millie’s is not nailed down, so the duo wasn’t able to divulge much other than that it will be American food, with hopefully some Gulf offerings. Peter Clifton will oversee what goes behind the bar, having worked with Bridge at Ritual as well.
The plan for now is to be open seven days a week for lunch and dinner.