by Eric Sandler, Culture Map
Buffalo Bayou Brewing Company’s new brewery and restaurant in Sawyer Yards has finally broken ground. Originally announced last year, construction has begun on the massive, $14 million, 28,000-square-foot, three-story complex. If all goes according to plan, patrons should be drinking and dining in the facility next summer.
“We were really struggling with — you’ve got these ideas and this creative thesis for the look and feel you want, but translating it to what the backsplash is or what’s the first thing you see [is a challenge],” Buffalo Bayou founder and CEO Rassul Zarinfar tells CultureMap. “Thinking about process flow and how people are moving in and out and keeping it comfortable, those are all the things Gin brought to the table. She’s taking these super creative ideas we have and bringing them to a tactile and specific plan.”
Essentially, Zarinfar wants visitors to go on a journey when they visit the new facility. The first floor will recreate the current experience of visiting the brewery with picnic tables. The second floor, 200-seat restaurant will be more vibrant with neon colors.
“By the third floor, we want an almost Willy Wonka experience with absolute creativity,” Zarinfar says. Later he adds, “it’s a really fun design problem for them to unpack. We do normal beers and mainstream stuff, but when we get weird, it gets really weird and really fun.”
For its part, Gin Design Group describes the project as follows: “[Collages will combine] Texas icons, historical landmarks, and local heroes with imagery of the revolutionary ingredients used to create the radical palates that have allowed Buff Brew to alter the beer landscape,” the company writes in a statement. “The mission is to create a design that not only honors the pioneering history of Texas but also celebrates the adventurous spirit of a city built on outlaws and invention.”
Expect a similar level of creativity in the culinary program. The company recently recruited Daut Elshani, formerly director of marketing for the Salt ‘N Pepper Group (Third Floor, Pub Fiction, etc.), to serve as director of food and beverage.
While a decision hasn’t been made about whether to hire a chef, Zarinfar has a pretty clear vision for the type of food he wants to serve. Expect elements like a spent grain bread station and steaks served with a reduction made from the brewery’s Figaro Belgian quad.
“We’re going to push your expectations for what beer can be and how flavor can develop on a plate with beer,” he says. “I think there’s a couple people in Houston who are doing it really well, but I think we can push it even further.”