Like his great-grandmother Lucille B. Smith – the inspiration for his restaurant in the Museum District Lucilles – Chris Williams is a chef and entrepreneur. He founds a new company: Lucille’s hospitality group. The new organization will be Lucilles and Lucilles 1913‘Williams’ nonprofit that has distributed over 150,000 meals to needy Houston residents and four just-announced concepts. Three are in Houston – but with one in Canada too, Williams is expanding its vision from local to international.
Dawn Burrell, Chief Partner of the Lucille Hospitality Group in late August; and Chris Williams, Founder / Owner of the Lucille Hospitality Group. Photo by Jenn Duncan.
Perhaps the most exciting of the four is Late August, an Afro-Asian restaurant with a chef Dawn Burrell, which should open at the end of 2021. With that, Burrell returns to a restaurant kitchen. Shortly after being nominated for the 2020 James Beard Award Semi-finalist for Best Chef: Texas For her work as head chef at Kulture, the renowned eatery along with the other restaurants in Houston was closed due to COVID-19. Kulture has yet to reopen, and Burrell officially left that position in July to start pivot point, a food delivery business that combines global comfort food with informative online cooking classes. Burrell, a former Olympic athlete, started working with Williams during the 2019 Food Apartheid Dinner Series. At the end of August, Burrell will not only be head chef, but also a business partner.
“To be part of this team is really a dream for me. I can creatively do what I love with food while meeting the needs of so many people through Lucilles 1913. I’m happy to be a part of it, ”Burrell said in a statement.
In the spring of 2021, Williams ventures outside the United States and opens Emiles Black Point Bistro in Nova Scotia, Canada, which will pay homage to the space’s original owners, two Lebanese-born immigrants. Williams plans to open in 2022 Rado Café, a community-oriented eatery in a historic third parish building that not only serves food, but also cocktails and coffee. The group plans to open again in 2022 Hogan Brown Gallery, an African American art gallery attached to the new cafe.
In a statement, Williams said, “It has been a long way to get to this point and I am so grateful to be surrounded by a working family who not only share LHG’s vision for the future, but also the work that is required to achieve it fully understands. The LHG’s perspective on work is unique, as almost every single member comes from restaurant kitchens. We know how to grind! “
Khang Hoang, Founding Partner at Lucille’s Hospitality Group. Photo by Ayaan Ahsan.
Williams has assembled an impressive team to advance his vision of nurturing the future through culinary storytelling and connections. Beside Burrell, Khang Hoang, a 19-year veteran of restaurants like Kata Robata and David Chang’s Momofuku Noodle Bar, who also served as the chef at Lucille’s, is a Founding partner of the chef in the new hospitality group. Lawrence Walker, is a professionally trained chef who honed his skills in country clubs and hotels Lucille’s culinary director in 1913. Robertine Jeffersonwho is doing a PhD in psychology and has extensive non-profit experience is the Development director of the non-profit organization.
With this team helping start his new hospitality group, Williams has positioned himself to live up to his great-grandmother’s legacy of inventing the first hot roll mix, creating innovative curricula at Prairie View A&M, and writing of a cookbook. Perhaps a cookbook is in Williams’ future as well, as there are likely many people who would like his recipes braised oxtails and his famous Prawns and grits.
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