Cullen’s Upscale: The Big Green Restaurant in Clear Lake

Rendering of Cullen’s Upscale American Grille on Space Center Blvd., Houston

A restaurant scheduled to open today just beyond Beltway 8’s southeastern elbow is the first “Certified Green Restaurant” in Houston approved by the Green Restaurant Association. Cullen’s Upscale American Grille completed 17 of the GRA’s environmental guidelines.

The grille’s proprietor is first-time restaurant owner Kevin Munz, who previously built a chain of 13 Houston-area pawn shops. He sold the Mr. Money Pawn shops to Cash America International in 2006. Two years before that, he bought 92.8 acres of undeveloped land at the eastern edge of Ellington Field and began planning Clearpoint Crossing, a series of strips along the west side of newly extended Space Center Blvd., featuring retail/lease space, a professional-office park, and a multifamily residential project.

Cullen’s is intended to be Clearpoint Crossing’s main attraction: a 37,000-sq.-ft. Las Vegas-style eatery with seven private dining rooms — including one built of glass and suspended over the main dining area — a ballroom, space for outdoor dining, and seating for 700 diners. Customers will have their choice of china: Wedgwood, Versace, or “the Titanic.” Munz spoke to the Houston Chronicle‘s David Kaplan about his plans for Cullen’s last year:

“I’ve been all over the U.S. and looked at restaurants. It’s the best of a bunch of different concepts and putting them into one, Munz said. “It’s the same thing I did with pawnshops.”

Munz told the South Belt-Ellington Leader he hopes to attract customers driving from as far northeast as Baytown and as far south as Galveston to his green restaurant, saying he “wouldn’t have done this in town.”

Munz expects the Clearpoint Crossing’s land value to “go up the day I open the restaurant,” he told Kaplan. That would be today!

After the jump, a plan of the whole Clearpoint Crossing development. Plus, a few of the restaurant’s green features!


From the Green Restaurant Association, Cullen’s green-rating points, by category:

According to the Kaplan’s article in the Chronicle, the lounge

. . . will have a fiber-optic floor, a player piano and – far more rare – a player violin.

Cullen’s will boast 56 large LCD screens projecting art by the masters, thousands of images changing every few minutes.

And here’s the site plan for Clearpoint Crossing:

Site Plan of Clearpoint Crossing, Clear Lake, Houston

Easy access to I-45 and Beltway 8, plus plenty of free parking!

19 Comment

  • what is the menu and prices for a couple to dine at cullens , or do you have menu to email out , and what about on line reservations or a web site address please reply . thanks and great times for you now and in the furture , harry green

  • harry: There’s a link to the Cullen’s Upscale website at the bottom of the story above (all the sources have arrows in front of them; the Cullen’s Upscale website is the fourth one). A direct link to the first page of the dinner menu is here.

  • I’m looking at the menu. What does “twelve” under “Frito Pie” mean. Does it mean I get twelve frito pies? Cause it damn sure better not mean I’m paying twelve dollars for a frito pie, unless the side dish is eleven one dollar bills.

  • greg: Read the Frito Pie description carefully. It says “berkshire pork & chairman’s reserve beef chili, toasted corn chips, texas goat cheese, english & wisconsin cheddar, creme fraiche & scallions.” The “twelve” at the end probably refers to the number of adjectives.

  • Complimentary valet. Modern decor and fine table arrangements. Beef filet was excellent. Dishes are inexpensive but they’re intricately wrought, with flourishes aplenty. The frito pie is amazing and worth every penny. This “ain’t” no MacDonalds!

  • Isabelle,

    Possibly you are related to the Munz family or have something else to gain with your food critique?
    Our party of 6 overwhelmingly agreed that although the atmosphere was fantastic, the food was something to be desired. Our filet was unusually small, as were all the portions. We dine at Capital Grille frequently and were surprised when the Red Snapper arrived. It was a appetizer sized portion with a scant portion of potatoes (one extremely small new potato cut into 4 pieces) and two small sun dried cherry tomatoes…all this hidden under a, at the at most 4 once, portion of Red Snapper.
    In summary, the portions were extremely small (we felt the hint of a culinary ego), highly priced, and had a presentation that needs some help. The gigantic square plates with a small morsel in the center spoke volumes.
    Mr. Munz excelled in creating a visually fantastic place but his skill in creating a great dining experience is lacking the key ingredient….good food.
    I have no doubt that initially this place will draw a crowd if for nothing else curiosity over the size and investment in the facility (and the buzz their marketing department seems to be trying to get out). I do hope they get the food worked out as repeat customers, other than the Munz’s friend Ms. Isabelle, will most likely not exist.
    I have to add one more thing. I was so confident that because of the sheer investment and hype of Cullen’s they would dethrone Perry’s as our favorite Clear Lake restaurant. That definitely was not the case. If you want an awesome culinary delight, visit Perry’s.

  • I’m afraid I have to agree with the negative critics here. We spent $200 and had to stop at the Sonic around the corner on the way home. While my husband’s filet was prepared correctly and was superb, my pork chop was mediocre and not anywhere in the ball park with the above mentioned “Perry’s” version. The triple Creme brulee dessert was interesting but not portioned for sharing. Overall, I’d have to say the dishes are overpriced for the portion size. Table service was great, but front desk personnel seemed a bit undertrained although extremely sweet. Lovely design though, can’t wait to see the club.

  • We dined there this weekend (04/12/08). I thought the atmosphere was nice but the food was terribly over priced as stated above. I believe in “fine dining” and believe whole-heartedly that you pay for what you get. However, in this restaurant, I was terribly disappointed. My bf was trying to surprise me and take me to a nice place to celebrate my promotion at work. Although I loved the gesture, I was dumbfounded that the “$28.00 short ribs” entree consisted of a mini stapler sized piece of meat that was mostly fat and my bf’s “$6.00 potatoe” side dish, was that of the size of a potatoe that you get out of a whole bag of “$1.99” potatoes. We were more than prepared to spend $200.00 when we arrived. Our bill was $160.00 and I was upset because of the service “taking forever” and the food wasn’t even mediocre (in my opinion). I’m pretty sure this is the last time we’ll dine there, but If you’d like to waste a nice amount of money and well, should I say, really don’t have an appetite…..this is your place.

  • god damn texans.
    if its not “biggie” “super” or “forcefeedme” size you complain.
    give your arteries a break, and indulge your taste buds.

  • Roberto, I hope you are not a typical customer at this place. If you are then I’m sure I won’t like it.

  • Well, I had the pleasure of going to Cullen’s this past weekend. It was very busy with prom parties and such, but that still did not take away from the great service. A friend of mine went there when they first opened the doors. She told me that the service wasn’t “upscale”. Three weeks later, the service has evidently come a long way. We had a wonderful waiter named Chelsea, who was very classy. The manager’s were even more wonderful. One of them (Chase, I think) was kind enough to treat us to a complimentary dessert just because we were not sure if we wanted it or not. He basically locked us in as regulars. Now, my wife and I USED to frequent Perry’s which, dont get me wrong, is a marvelous establishment. I feel that the culinary prowess at Cullen’s is a lot better. I’m guilty of being a foodie, so I guess I understand and enjoy food that was meant for more distinguished palates (Jeff). I enjoyed myself thoroughly.

  • Matt,

    My comment in general was about the lack of reasonable food portion and the exorbitant pricing. We dine at Perry’s and Capital Grille frequently so my intent in going to Cullen’s was for a culinary delight, not buffet size portions or discount prices. We had no misunderstanding what was ahead. As I mentioned the atmosphere was fantastic it was just that the food portions were small and overpriced.
    To add to my original comments I will note that my snapper actually besides being small was not that tasty.

    I agree there is a crowd out there that feels Jackson Pollack painting are sheer genius. This same group are the ones programmed that if it’s priced high and the atmosphere is great, then the food is surely awesome.

    My comments were an effort to help Mr. Munz tweak his offering so the product he is selling is the best (as he claims). This way the parking lot would have more cars in it (unlike it does now).

  • I think they’ve worked out some of the kinks you guys have belly achin’ about cause I went Monday for lunch and I couldnt finish my caesar salad and sausage and potato pizza. It was delish.

    But thats why I waited a while :P

  • Thank You “Roberto Otrebor”, I agree. A good 3+ course meal requires time for laughter and digestion between courses. Come on folks take time from the rat race and savour each bite. You may find it to be quite sensual.

  • I agree with you wholly Nancy, relax, laugh, and enjoy each meal.

    That formula works great at Perry’s where the portions are reasonable, and the atomosphere and service are great. If you savor each bite at Cullen’s you might plan on lots of conversation if you are going to be there for a while. The food and desert portions are small by any standards so eat very slow for sure.

  • The food at Cullens was wonderful and the service was great. I enjoyed the live entertainment as well.

    Good Job Mr.Munz

  • The architecture is horrible – both inside and outside. It is the same Tuscan/Mexican/Mediterranean look that you see on a lot of new homes today. “If two inches of crown moulding is good, then four inches is twice as good.” How about some real design, people?

  • Went there to celebrate a friends birthday. Was very very unimpressed with the food. Will never go there again. Food was tasteless, service very slow. Go to chili’s, as it is better and much much cheaper.

  • i work at cullens and it is great by me=]]]