Cleburne Cafeteria About To Reopen in Its Third Building, Following Second Fire-Induced Shutdown

The structure now being finalized at the once-on-Cleburne-St. Cleburne Cafeteria’s space at 3606 Bissonnet St. is notably bigger than the single-story building it’s replacing — a 2-story steel frame went up around the beginning of February, and the restaurant is shooting to open in its newest home by the end of the summer. (The view included here of the old building shows it just shy of the restaurant’s 75th anniversary, last spring; the shot up top shows progress on the new building just shy of the fire’s 1-year anniversary in late April.) Other reasons why this round of recovery has taken longer than the 3-month closure that followed the restaurant’s 1990 fire at the same address: Owner George Mickelis tells Katherine Feser this week that (relatively) new regulations and inspection requirements have drawn out the process, too.


As for what’ll go inside the building, some of the restaurant’s regular menu items will remain, but some less traditionally cafeteria-esque items (from tabbouleh to steak) will be added; the restaurant also got its first beer and wine permit back in September. And the collection of late original owner Nick Mickelis’ paintings — many of which were destroyed by the latest fire — has been fleshed back out by means of some giclee reproductions that will be on display.

Photos: Mark B. (construction); Greg L. (previous building)

From the Ashes Near West U

13 Comment

  • TWO fires?

  • What is odd about the newest Cleburne Cafeteria building is the two separate areas located on the second story …. no connection? They both are obviously going to be used as you can see wall struts being installed (at least on the left). My guess is the main area (to the right) is going to be office space while the left will be some type of living area. Perhaps someone with more knowledge on the project can enlighten us.

  • I hope they start accepting credit or debit cards. Their cash-only thing was archaic.

  • @Colleen

    Yes two fires, once in 1990 and more recently in 2016 …. 26 years apart. While both were ruled as accidental, so many restaurants have accidental fires it almost appears like the preferred way to either avoid bankruptcy proceedings or having to pay the expense to enlarge/rebuild on the owner’s own dime.

  • @Anonymous: I agree.

  • I lived in the area during the first fire (gosh was it THAT long ago?). Not there now, so didn’t know about the 2nd fire. Still, curious.

  • RE: cash only at Cleburne
    I’m okay with their cash-only policy. It keeps the “I never carry cash” people out of the place (when they were open) and slightly reduces the crowds. Added benefit: the family doesn’t have the merchant fees for credit cards eating into their margins.
    Maybe they could thin out the crowds more in the future by changing it to “gold dubloons” only. :)

  • @Scarlet F.
    maybe Bitcoin ;)

  • Scarlet- I’m sure their business model includes excluding crowds. What’s the name of your business?

  • @J:
    I’m a private citizen (who works in finance) with no business ownership. Unless you count mutual fund ownership as owning a business – but I think that’s really too indirect. :)

  • Oh So Glad…………Man this’s best cafeteria in Houston……….since WELDON’S on South Main in the Museum District. My favorite thing about Cleburne is the food always LOOKS WONDERFUL AND SO APPETIZING !!!! I am drooling now, chicken and dumplin’s, collard greens, jalapeno cornbread; Oh my Goodness, best egg custard and healthy tasty salads on God’s green earth !! ( my sister Margaret agreed ). Almost can’t wait. Really cool and smart idea for covered grannie front door drop-off !!! Yeah George Mickelis and Mamma Mickelis for pulling this off, We Love You !!!

  • I hope the menu will still be the same. New additions will be good, BUT the oldie but goodie signature menu cannot go away.. it is what made the restaurant great! Best chicken fried steak in Houston!

  • It’s still above Weldon’s, Romano’s, Furrs, Wyatts, Luby’s (original) and a number of others over the decades. The current Luby’s is in a death spiral. 1-1-19