In 2018, Food and Wine Magazine hailed Houston as one of the country’s most fertile grounds for new dining concepts. Aspiring restaurateurs, young entrepreneurs, and chefs continue to pour into the city, likely because H-town has some of the country’s lowest real estate prices and relatively easy-to-navigate building regulations. With few zoning laws and restrictions, business owners have the option of building their restaurants where they like, and as creatively as they would like. Combine that with Houston’s impressive cultural diversity, and you have an extremely conducive environment new dining concepts. Momofuku founder and TV personality David Chang called the city America’s most exciting food city.
A key part of entering Houston’s dining scene is finding the right contractor to realize a restaurateur’s vision. To help you decide who to hire, our team has selected 15 construction firms out of the hundreds that serve the city. These firms are capable of delivering any project, from experimental dining concepts to franchised restaurants with specific design requirements. These firms have been evaluated and ranked based on their portfolios, awards, and the recognition that they have received from local and national media.
15) Iron Horse Builders
Website | 713-529-4504 | 4200 Montrose Blvd., Suite #500, Houston, TX 77006
Established in 2014, Iron Horse Builders is a construction firm that specializes in building commercial structures throughout Houston. The firm is currently helmed by John Edward English, a managing partner with over 15 years of experience in commercial and residential construction. His focus on client satisfaction has allowed the company to gain valued clients in the corporate and restaurant markets.
In 2016, Iron Horse Builders completed the construction of Broken Barrel, a restaurant and wine bar located in Hughes Landing. The firm chose an interesting mix of materials to create a contemporary space fit for its high-end clientele. A portion of the wall is clad in wood panels, while the service area is built with brick masonry. Striking blue tiles frame the dining room.
14) Case & Associates General Contractors
Website | 713-789-5530 | 6315 Skyline Dr., Houston, TX 77057
Case & Associates General Contractors specializes in building for clients in the hospitality and restaurant industry. In its 30 years of existence it has become a trusted provider of construction services for national and international brands. Its work has appeared in Inc. Magazine and Interior Design Magazine.
In 2017, it completed the construction of the 7,500 square feet upscale steakhouse and butcher shop, B&B Butchers. The project involved dividing the space into size-specific dining areas. Guests enjoy this airy space thanks to expansive overlooking windows and globe pendant lights. The contractor implemented a simple palette of dark-stained wood, brick masonry, and glass.
13) Parker Project Management & Construction
Website | 713-667-4443 | 7024 Mapleridge, Houston, TX 77081
Leo Parker founded Parker Project Management & Construction 29 years ago, and he has since consistently offered a streamlined building process to Houston. The company works closely with its clients, beginning with the conception and design stage and through to construction and completion. Its specialty in restaurant construction has allowed it to secure projects with high-profile clients, such as Hugo Ortega, Caroal, Xchoi at the Marriott Marquis and celebrated chef and author Ford Fry.
It’s worth taking a look at the recently opened La Lucha, one of two Ford Fry concepts that the firm built in partnership with the Michael Hsu Office of Architecture. The restaurant pays homage to Fry’s childhood memories of dinners at the historic San Jacinto Inn. The firm used reclaimed wooden floors and plaster-washed brick walls, which serve as backdrops to the curated mix of vintage and antique pieces that adorn the restaurant.
12) Matrix Contractors
Website | 281-341-7311 | 1810 First Oaks St. Suite #210, Richmond, TX 77406
Matrix Contractors is a family-owned and operated business founded by Larry Walther, who brings 40 years of industry experience to the company. His expertise has allowed the firm to secure over 150 projects for 45 clients since 2008. In its 11 years of existence it has become one of Houston’s best high end restaurant and retail contractors.
Houston Business Journal featured Matrix Contractor’s work on Eunice, a Cajun-Creole brasserie concept from BRG Hospitality. It features 20-foot windows, polished wood floors, and a navy blue ceiling with wooden beams. The firm also included a U-shaped bar with a quartz top, whitewashed shiplap, and linen lanterns.
11) Alpine Engineering and Construction
Website | 281-953-0044 | 2821 Jordens Rd. Suite 100, Houston, TX 77084
Alpine Engineering and Construction specializes in land development, building construction, and construction management. It has worked on projects in different market sectors but excels in the restaurant industry. The company’s projects have been featured in Houston Business Journal and Houston Chronicle.
In 2018, one of its restaurant projects, Goode Co., became a finalist for Houston Business Journal’s Landmark Awards. The cantina features Mexican pendant lights, exposed white brick walls, and 100-year old reclaimed wood. The old-world aesthetic is also present in the patterned tiles, which perfectly matches the antique pieces that came from the Goode family collection.
10) Texana Builders
Website | 713-681-2747 | 8945 Long Point Rd. Suite #212, Houston, TX 77055
Texana Builders is a general contracting company that serves Houston, San Antonio, and Austin. It offers construction for the restaurant, healthcare, and retail industries, and even has a separate division for residential construction. Its projects have been featured in Houston Business Journal, CultureMap Houston, and Chron.com.
The firm is behind the construction of Dish Society, a farm-to-table restaurant in The Heights, Houston. The restaurant displays a fusion of contemporary and industrial design elements, with domed pendant lights hanging from the exposed ceiling. Note the chevron patterned flooring and the white brick used in the masonry walls.
9) Mission Constructors
Website | 713-523-9194 | 3813 Buffalo Spdwy., Suite #100, Houston, TX 77098
For 31 years, Mission Constructors has been providing construction services throughout Texas. It’s known for working closely with its clients and its modern construction practices, making it one of Houston’s best contractors. The firm is proud to have 80% of its projects come from repeat clients who were satisfied with prior work, with most of them coming from the commercial sector.
The firm is behind the construction of Goodnight Charlie, Montrose’s only honky-tonk. It was given a good base, then dressed up with vernacular materials and elements. The rectangular space is dominated by cedar wood, a material usually used in Texas barn houses. The honky-tonk also features a porch with cedar louvers and exposed trusses for ventilation.
8) Level Construction
Website | 832-242-3456 | 3949 Ann Arbor Dr., Houston, TX 77063
Level Construction is a full-service commercial general contractor and construction management firm that has won awards for excellence. With just 15 years of experience, the firm has already worked with some international brands from the hospitality and restaurant sectors. Its work has also appeared in San Antonio Business Journal, Houston Business Journal, and Inc. Magazine.
The firm has worked with several casual dining concepts in Texas, one of which is bellagreen. Faithful to the restaurant’s green living theme, Level Construction created a casual and laid back atmosphere, with an emphasis on sustainability. The restaurant has been recognized with a community improvement award from the Houston Heights Association and is a Certified Green Restaurant.
7) Construction Concepts
Website | 713-589-2682 | 5633 SW Fwy, Houston, TX 77057
Joshua Weisman opened Construction Concepts in 2000 after 20 years of work experience in the construction industry. Under his leadership, the firm has grown into one of Houston’s most sought-after commercial design-build firms. So far it has completed $40 million of contracted work and was recently listed under Houston Business Journal’s Fast 100 of 2018 as one of the fastest growing companies in the city.
In 2018 it completed the design and construction of the French baroque lounge and restaurant, Victor’s. The restaurant features some preservation work, with Construction Concepts making use of an 18th century antique wood for the back of the bar. The space is lit by ornate chandeliers that elegantly contrast with the painted black ceiling.
6) CTC Contractors
Website | 713-936-1970 | 3410 Yale St., Houston, TX 77018
Established in 2010 by Josh Crescenzi, CTC Contractors is one of Greater Houston’s leading general contractors. It specializes in the design-build delivery method and focuses on the restaurant, retail, and industrial sectors. Over the years, Crescenzi has expanded the company by creating separate divisions for millwork and drywall construction. Its work has appeared in the pages of Houston Business Journal, Houston Chronicle, and The Battalion.
One of its most striking restaurant projects is Wholesome Kitchen at Generation Park. The firm implemented an industrial chic design aesthetic throughout the restaurant. Combining exposed ceilings, brass accents, high-end finishes, and gorgeous polished floors this dual restaurant concept is already winning accolades in the area.
5) Turner Construction
Website | 713-840-8441 | 4263 Dacoma St., Houston, TX 77092
Turner Construction is one of the largest construction services companies in the country, earning around $12 billion annually. Its Houston office has been active since 1919, having built landmarks in the city like the Wells Fargo Plaza and the Bank of America Building. In 2017, it was ranked #6 in Advisory HQ’s Best Commercial Building Contractors in the US, and #1 in Engineering News-Record’s Top 100 Green Building Contractors in the US.
In 2013, it revamped the then 149-year old Houston Club, a private social club located in downtown Houston. The project involved extensive demolition and then a total build-out of the 15,700 square foot space in the One Shell Plaza building. Turner Construction charged the flooring, ceiling, and lighting with sleek modernist materials.
4) Kelley Construction
Website | 713-649-4400 | 16000 Park Ten Place Suite #601, Houston, TX 77084
Founded over four decades ago, Kelley Construction is an award-winning construction firm that serves clients in Texas and Kentucky. Helmed by president Joe Kelley, the firm has been listed in Engineering News-Record’s Top 400 Contractors of 2018 and has received multiple awards of excellence from the Associated Builders and Contractors. Its work has also appeared in Engineering News-Record, Louisville Business Journal, and EHS Today Magazine.
The firm’s unwavering commitment to delivering quality projects has earned it the loyalty of its clients. The firm has built and remodeled several Texas Roadhouse locations across 33 states, and its reputation has helped it secure high-profile clients, including TV personality and cooking show host Paula Deen. Kelley Construction was the builder for the first Texas locations of Paula Deen’s Family Kitchen.
3) MC2 Architects and Construction
Website | 713-802-2305 | 5600 Rose St., Houston, TX 77007
MC2 Architects and Construction was founded by Chuong and Chung Nguyen in 1995 to offer a smooth building process to their commercial and residential clients. As a recognized authority on the design-build delivery method, the firm has received recognition from a number of prestigious organizations and industry magazines. The firm has also won awards from the American Institute of Architects, the American Society of Interior Designers, and Paper City Magazine.
In 2012, its design and construction of the Trinity Restaurant won the Architecture (AIA) design award in 2012 and nominated for the James Beard Foundation Awards for best Restaurant Design in 2013. The project involved the restoration of a 1936 Art Deco building that had housed several businesses in the past. The firms build for the MS Sushi Restaurant also won the Best Restaurant Paper City Design Award in 2017 and their build for the Lemon Grass Restaurant won the American Institute Architecture (AIA) design award in 2000. The Nguyen brothers rebuilt the space with poured concrete walls and light colored wood flooring. However, the restaurant’s design highlight is found outside—an accordion folded aluminum exterior that serves both aesthetic and functional purposes. The perforated panels block out the sun’s heat while also creating an optical illusion for people who are passing by the restaurant’s west side.
2) JE Dunn Construction
Website | 713-521-4664 | 10350 Richmond Ave. Suite #900, Houston, TX 77042
In 1924, John Ernest Dunn founded the JE Dunn Construction company in Missouri as a family-run residential contractor. Nearly a century later, the firm has grown into a construction services company with offices across the US. By acquiring smaller contractor firms, it became the 10th largest general building contractor in the U.S. In Houston the firm’s expertise has been recognized by the Houston Business Journal, Bisnow, and Engineering News-Record.
Its reputation in the industry has allowed it to partner with acclaimed design professionals. Recently, it worked with Jordan Mozer & Associates—the internationally renowned architecture and design studio—to build Churrascos in Sugar Land. The Latin American restaurant was configured to look like an enchanting rustic oasis. The firm used regional wood and recycled materials to create a truly unique aesthetic experience. JE Dunn also installed hand-blown Chicago glass and locally-produced clay tiles.
1) Holt Construction Corp.
Website | 832-786-5021 | 16770 Imperial Valley Dr. Suite #120, Houston, TX 77060
Formerly named Fred L. Holt, Inc., Holt Construction Corp is a 100-year old family-run construction firm that operates on the national level. It is currently helmed by 4th generation building professional Jack Holt, who brings 45 years of industry experience to the company. As CEO he has led the company to win several industry awards, including Design Awards from AIA, Best Project from Engineering News-Record, and Best Contracting Project from Mid Atlantic Real Estate Journal.
In 2017, Holt Construction worked with OTG Experience to bring elevated food fare to the new C-North Terminal at George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston. The firm built two Restaurant and Bar Design Awards entries. The first is Vida Taqueria, a Tex-Mex restaurant that offers authentic cuisine and craft tequilas. The second, which we’ve featured below, is Ember, a high-end steakhouse concept by James Beard Best Chef winner Chris Shepherd. Ember wows diners with a design element that hovers over the restaurant—10,000 bronze stars that were manipulated to resemble a cowboy hat’s brim. Inside, the glass-enclosed kitchen offers a view of how food is made. A black subway-tiled bar also sits smack in the center of the restaurant, contrasting nicely with the warm brown and red hues that dominate the space.