The new restaurant opening in the space left behind by the shuttered 11th St. Cafe, also known for a time last year as the Ruggles 11th St. Cafe? Ruggles Green. No, seriously. But apparently it’s not the same Ruggles the restaurant started with.
For about 5 months last summer, the 11th St. Cafe at 748 E. 11th St. took on a new name: Ruggles 11th St. Cafe — after Ruggles Grill owner Bruce Molzan agreed to operate the restaurant. But Molzan later pulled out of the arrangement because “he considered the quality of the food there poor,” he told Chronicle reporter Purva Patel last month. A trademark-infringement lawsuit Molzan then filed against the cafe prompted owner Archie Patterson to remove the Ruggles name from the restaurant in early December; he closed it entirely — after 35 years of operation — at the end of the year, announcing that a new tenant for the space would be named in late January.
That new tenant is a Ruggles, but it’s Ruggles Green, reports the Houston Business Journal‘s Jennifer Dawson. Molzan was one of the founding partners of Ruggles Green. But last year he sued his former partners, claiming that their licensing agreement had expired and that the restaurant on West Alabama at Revere St. (there’s now a second location open CityCentre; a third is planned for Sugar Land Town Square) infringed on his trademark; according to Patel, Ruggles Green investor Randy Bower claims Molzan owes him 50 percent of Molzan’s flagship restaurant, Ruggles Grill. Molzan has since sold the Ruggles Grill building.
The 11th St. Ruggles Green is expected to open as a certified-green restaurant in May, after a substantial renovation the owners say will “maintain the charm of the historic building.”
- Ruggles Green to reopen 11th Street Cafe [Houston Business Journal]
- Restaurateur gets in scrape after scrape amid growth [Houston Chronicle]
- Previously on Swamplot: The End of the 11th St. Cafe, The Lawsuit Behind the Paper at the 11th St. Cafe, The Rugglefication of the Heights’ 11th Street Cafe
Photos: Swamplot inbox (top) and Candace Garcia (bottom)