The new name for the area restaurants formerly known as Ruggles Green is part of a strategy for the Houston-based chain to disassociate itself with local chef Bruce Molzan, its CEO admits. “Yes, we want to distance ourselves from him,” Jason Morgan tells Chronicle reporter Andrea Rumbaugh. Morgan’s investment firm, Hargett Hunter Capital Partners, purchased Ruggles Green last October. Today the firm announced it is rebranding all 5 area restaurants as Bellagreen, a move presaged by the publication in its social media feeds earlier this month of the photo above — showing its patio at CityCentre while artfully eliding the signage.
Molzan, the longtime chef at the former Ruggles Grill on Westheimer, is no longer an owner of the Ruggles Green chain he cofounded, but he and his ex-wife retain rights to the Ruggles name. But there’s more than the risk of too many confusing Ruggleses for Bellagreen to contend with; there’s also the issue of Molzan’s fish-y reputation: Molzan was accused by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department earlier this year of operating Texas’s largest-ever unlicensed seafood network, selling illegally caught finfish to restaurants, including Ruggles Black and Ruggles Green, for almost 4 years.
The first new Bellagreen will be the restaurant opening in early October at Vintage Marketplace at 10111 Louetta Rd. The company plans to double in size within a year; 6 new locations, in Houston and Dallas, are planned for 2018.
- Ruggles Green gets new name, locations [Houston Chronicle]
- Previously on Swamplot: TPWD: Chef Involved in Ruggles Establishments Involved in Giant Illegal Fish Network, Too; Last Course at Ruggles Grill on Westheimer; Recently Derugglefied 11th St. Cafe To Reopen — as Ruggles Green; The Lawsuit Behind the Paper at the 11th St. Cafe; The Rugglefication of the Heights’ 11th Street Cafe
Photo of Ruggles Green at CityCentre: Bellagreen