This time next year the Greater Heights adjacent neighborhood of Timbergrove will be home to Railway Heights. This development is another in a line of Houston’s newest commodity of food halls and markets. But with the growth in Houston — especially in The Leader area — of food and drink concepts, will Railway Heights be just what the locals need?
Anh Mai of Silent Theatre Group, who is also behind Conservatory — downtown’s first food hall — and Bravery Chef Hall, and Shepherd Ross are collaborating on the project. They are dedicated to creating a space in the neighborhood that will become a staple in Houston while being financially friendly for potential vendors.
“While I haven’t spoken with the Railway Heights developers personally, generally speaking, farmers markets, beer gardens, and locally-sourced grocery stores have been very popular all over my district,” said Ellen Cohen, Mayor Pro Tem and council member over District C.
With a 27,000 square-foot food hall, 13,000 square-foot beer garden, and 22,000 square-foot park and greenspace, Railway Heights is sure to attract a mix of people who may want a good beer, or fresh local vegetables.
Twenty-five food and drink concepts will be introduced in the space; including, a beer garden, a dog park bar, and a wine bar.
“Railway Heights sounds like it will be a good spot to launch chefs and concepts, serving as an incubator of sorts,” said Lance Fegen, culinary director at F.E.E.D. TX Restaurant Group, owners of Liberty Kitchen, “I think that the lower start-up costs will be an attractive element for restaurant owners. The team behind the food and retail destination (Anh Mai and Shepherd Ross) has the talent and experience to make something really special come to life.”
There will also be local grocers inside the food hall and a farmers market every Saturday and Sunday with locally sourced produce as well. But as the Railway Heights website proclaims, no, they won’t have something for everyone.
Under grocers the website reads, “You won’t find toilet paper, or shampoo but you will find bulk goods from local purveyors, fresh seafood from the gulf, locally raised meats, curated cheeses, and produce from all your local small farms.”
Locally sourced has become an important quality for many people and is what draws many residents to farmers markets.
“The more awareness that comes to light about food production and ingredients the more people want to support local farmers and producers. Being able to meet and talk to the person that raised the animal, grew the produce, produced and created the products, and knowing exactly what is in it and where it came from, makes the experience of food so much more genuine and enjoyable,” said Amy Williams, owner of Underhill Urban Farm Co. and a vendor at Eleanor’s Market.
As a small farmer, Williams is excited to see a development like Railway Heights being introduced into the Timbergrove neighborhood and would even be interested in becoming a vendor there.
Alongside the food and drink selection will be artisan goods. Specifically, the development is looking for vendors who have a special homemade craft to share with the world.
No vendors have been announced other than the container farm Let Us, a concept that revolutionizes the salad bar. Lettuce will be grown in containers onsite and will feature a salad bar and a vending machine.
Railway Heights has three phases of development. The first being the food hall, bar concepts, beer garden, dog park, retail space, green space, container farm and weekend market. Phase two will bring a 600 car, multilevel motorized parking garage that will relieve the stress of parking. Lastly, container apartments will be added to the property.
“I believe the redevelopment is needed and private developers will take care of their investment.
Traffic and safety are a concern. Private controls should be implemented to assure no issues will arise,” Mark McGarity, a Timbergrove resident said, “The area has looked like a ghost town for some time. I’m looking forward to it.”
Even with the redevelopment of Houston Farmers Market (Canino’s) not too far away from Timbergrove, there’s no worry of over saturation.
In mentioning these two developments, Fegen commented that both are ambitious projects, but will serve to attract both locals and tourists to explore the city’s diverse dining. He believes that the addition of both markets are nice growth indicators for the region.
“Liberty Kitchen has been in the Heights for almost eight years now, and we’ve seen the development of the area booming, without signs of slowing down. We love seeing our neighborhood grow and evolve,” Fegen said.
Residents of Timbergrove also chimed in, with excitement for the new upcoming development.
“Since I work across from [Railway Heights] at Silver Eagle, I think it will be nice to have lunch options so close,” Lauren Schultz said.
“I’m exited about the grocery store having a local market on weekends and I think it’s awesome to be able to have another dog park where you can also have a beer like the old Boneyard that was next door,” Ashley Mudder said.
Railway Heights, to be located at 8200 Washington Ave., will be a fun convenience for locals and inviting enough to bring in food lovers from all over the city.