Jackson Walker partner Michael Kuhn represented a partnership between Hines and Ivanhoé Cambridge in negotiating leases with What If Syndicate to bring two restaurants to Texas Tower in downtown Houston. Both leases will total over 8,000 square feet in the 47-story office tower, which topped out in March 2021 and is nearing final completion.
Based in Chicago, What If Syndicate is a national hospitality group behind concept restaurants like Etta, Maple & Ash, and Monarch—all of which center around wood-fired dishes. The first restaurant to join Texas Tower is Etta, which currently has two locations in Chicago and another location in the works in Dallas. The restaurant will occupy 6,410 square feet on the first floor of the tower and is expected to open in February 2022. The second restaurant has yet to be publicly announced and will be located in the pavilion area.
Located on the 800 block of Texas Avenue, Texas Tower is the former site of the Houston Chronicle and will feature over 1.14 million square feet of Class-AA office space, a conference facility, public gardens on level 12, and a fitness center. In addition to What If’s two restaurants, incoming tenants include Hines, DLA Piper, and Vinson & Elkins.
In an interview with Connect CRE Texas, Hines Senior Managing Director John Mooz said, “With the goal of providing a curated food and beverage program to the north side of downtown and surrounding community, we are thrilled to welcome What If Syndicate not only to Houston but also to Texas Tower.”
Jonathan Pearce, Ivanhoé Cambridge’s Executive Vice President, Leasing & Development, Office & Industrial North America, noted in a Houston Business Journal article, “What If Syndicate pushes the boundaries of hospitality and service, and its new restaurant concepts are a key addition to our offering for our guests at Texas Tower.”
For more information about Texas Tower and the leasing deal with What If, view the following articles:
- Eater Houston | “Chicago Restaurant Etta Will Bring Its Hearth-Fired Dishes to Houston”
- Houston Business Journal | “Etta Italian restaurant to open Houston location in Hines’ Texas Tower”
- Connect Texas | “What If Syndicate Says What Is to Texas Tower”
- CultureMap Houston | “Chicago-based Italian restaurant signs on to new downtown high-rise”
- ENR Texas-Louisiana | “Massive Houston Tower Designed With a Twist”
- CultureMap Houston | “Striking downtown tower writes a new story for old Houston Chronicle building”
Michael K. Kuhn is a board-certified commercial real estate attorney with a particular emphasis on office and retail leasing. Over his 42-year career, Michael has developed a particular niche for negotiating office, retail, and restaurant leases on behalf of landlords. His practice is not limited to either Houston or Texas, and he routinely handles office and retail leasing matters throughout the country. Since 2008, he has been named among The Best Lawyers in America in the area of Real Estate Law.
In addition to negotiating leases with What If Syndicate, Michael has handled negotiations for Brookfield Properties’ The Shops at Houston Center, Moody National’s Village Towers, Radom Capital and JPMorgan’s Montrose Collective, and the Rice Village Shopping Center. Beyond Houston, Michael routinely handles restaurant leases across the country, from Top Pot Doughnuts & Coffee in Seattle, Washington, to the acclaimed Haymaker Restaurant in downtown Charlotte, North Carolina.
With this wealth of experience, Michael understands the unique issues confronting landlords in commercial buildings and the special needs of restaurants. The host of issues abounding in restaurant leases – installation of kitchen systems, venting of kitchen odors, grease trap, valet parking, signage, and concerns over the dining experience – coupled with the need to balance all these issues with the concerns of adjacent tenants and neighboring landowners, combine to create a challenging negotiation process. Michael’s skill set allows him to identify, address, and resolve these issues in collaboration with his clients in an efficient and proactive manner.
Since 1887, Jackson Walker has represented some of the most influential companies and business leaders in the world. Today, we remain firmly rooted in Texas while serving clients around the globe. With more than 400 attorneys across seven offices, we are the second-largest law firm in the state and have been recognized by Law360 as a “Texas Powerhouse” and an “elite law firm” that regularly provides counsel to industry-leading clients on highly complex transactions ranging from millions to billions. To explore the Firm’s experience assisting clients with leasing, developing, buying, selling, and operating properties, visit the Real Estate practice page.