An upscale-polished restaurant feeds off the daily volume of some 5,000 customers visiting the adjacent furniture showroom.
Brick & Mortar Kitchen offers guests what few other restaurants can—the option to buy the tables, chairs, bar stools, or patio furniture while feasting on Momma’s Meatloaf.
Located in Richmond, Texas, adjacent to the newest and third unit of Gallery Furniture, the restaurant features refined “Texas-Southern” cuisine, an adventurous wine list, and private dining for up to 200 people.
Owned by Chef Phil Brown and his wife, Laura McIngvale Brown, daughter of the furniture store’s owner, Brick & Mortar is making a mark with more than its bar stools.
“There is not really a restaurant of this caliber outside of Houston’s Loop,” Chef Brown says. “We wanted an inside-the-Loop restaurant in the [suburbs], and Brick & Mortar has achieved that. It has been really well-received. Some people eat here three or four times a week.”
Seasoned restaurateurs, the Browns also own the highly rated Vince Young Steakhouse in Austin, Texas, in partnership with former pro quarterback Vince Young.
In regard to their Brick & Mortar Kitchen concept, it was clear early on that the multi-use location wasn’t going to lack for foot traffic. The restaurant is accessible through the massive, 200,000-square-foot furniture showroom that averages 5,000 customers daily, and it also has a separate entrance.
Chef Brown says 60 percent of restaurant traffic enters through the furniture store, which, like Brick & Mortar Kitchen, is open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., seven days a week.
There are other synergies between the restaurant and store. Any customer who spends $3,000 or more on furniture automatically receives a $100 gift card for Brick & Mortar Kitchen. Additionally, all of the furniture and décor featured in the restaurant’s design are available for purchase next door.
“People just don’t expect to go to a furniture store and have a great meal, so they often come back,” the chef says. “The big challenge is getting people to come in that are not going to Gallery Furniture.”
Originally approached about opening a restaurant by his father-in-law, Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale, after visiting ABC Carpet’s restaurant, ABC Kitchen by Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten in New York City, Brown says he and his wife were given free rein to create the restaurant.
“We mulled over a few different concepts, but in the end we wanted to come across with something new,” he says. “We also wanted a restaurant that would deliver amazing food in a family-friendly environment.”
The restaurant, which emphasizes as much regional and local product as possible, has a contemporary setting with warm brick walls and checkerboard flooring. Food accounts for 70 percent of sales while beverages bring in the remaining 30 percent, and food costs average between 27 and 31 percent.
Best-selling dishes include meatball marinara, fresh oregano pizza for $15; Tater Tots with Texas cheese sauce, house-made brisket, pickled jalapeños for $12; and the BMK burger with pickled onion, butter lettuce, garlic aioli, and Texas White Cheddar Cheese for $15. Brick & Mortar Kitchen also features a filet mignon with lump crab, Bearnaise sauce, asparagus, and mashed potatoes for $42.
Dinner tickets run about $39 and lunch averages $21. The restaurant does 120 to 180 seatings on weekends and employs around 65 people.
When it came to the beverage program the mantra was “keep it simple,” Chef Brown notes. The restaurant pours 16 wines by the glass, which allows “us to get a little adventurous. Our goal is to find wines that are not expensive but are just as good or better than the big- name brands.”
Cocktails such as the best-selling BMK margarita are hand-crafted and use as much local product as possible. Cocktails cost between $10 and $13, with a Mimosa trio of orange, grapefruit, and pomegranate juice going for $30.
The restaurant does a robust private-dining business in its two private-dining rooms but will also rent out the full restaurant to accommodate larger events.
“The private-dining business has been very beneficial to us,” Brown says. Targeting middle-aged adults, the restaurant has been gaining ground month after month.
“One year in, we are actually doing slightly better than we anticipated,” he adds. “Every month gets better. That was always our goal. We want to keep moving forward.”