Employees who arrived to work at Samba Grille on Thursday were in for a shock. They were told that the restaurant would be closing, and that the final dinner service would be today, Saturday, July 21st.
Located in the Bayou Place entertainment downtown, with venues like the Bayou Music Center (formerly known as Verizon Wireless Theater) next door, Sundance Cinemas in the same complex, and Wortham Center across the street, from its inception, Samba Grille found it a challenge to attract restaurant goers independent of the pre and post-theater rush.
Chronicle food critic Alison Cook mentioned this particular issue, even as she gave it a positive, two star review: “Ketcham and his co-owner, Elise Erdman (she is married to the owner of Guri do Sul, the rodizio pioneer in The Woodlands), have their work cut out for them persuading special-event goers to come in for a test drive.”
The Bayou Place location has been a challenging for other restaurants as well. In April 2011, one of the most long-standing restaurants in the Bayou Place, Mingalone, shuttered its doors after its landlord terminated their lease for failure to pay rent.
The location’s challenge was just too much for Samba Grille, which has earned positive reviews from the media, including a Best Steakhouse 2011 award by the Houston Press.
More recently, Samba’s Executive Chef, David Guerrero, beat out more than 40 chefs in the Chef’s Battle competition at The Woodland’s Grand Rendezvous and Chef’s Showcase, for which he will be featured in Texas Monthly in an upcoming issue.
Guerrero, who gained prominence for his South American cuisine during his tenure at Samba Grille, posted a heartfelt farewell message on his Facebook page, in both English and Spanish: “Tomorrow will be our last service at Samba Grille, one door closes , ten will open. I Left my soul, heart and passion in this place. Thanks to everybody who showed me love and support and who believes in this cuisine. The best part is that I’ve meet my right hand and best friend, Alex Bermont (Very talented chef). We’ll be back soon. Salud.”
Bremont, Guerrero’s sous chef, recently spent a month staging at famed Eleven Madison Park in New York, and returned to Houston, eager to apply what he learned; he is likewise devastated by this unfortunate turn of events.
Tonight will be the last dinner service at the Samba Grille (5pm-11pm) as we know it in the Bayou Place. According to an insider, Samba Grille will offer 50% off bottles of wine for the last dinner service. The owners could not be reached for comment.
Samba Grille is located at 530 Texas Ave, in the Bayou Place. Tel: (713) 343-1180 Sambagrillehouston.com