HBJ: Team behind award-winning restaurant plans to grow with second concept

Three creators behind acclaimed restaurant Nancy’s Hustle — chef Jason Vaughn, beverage specialist Sean Jensen and pastry chef Julia Doran — have teamed up again for a separate restaurant, called Tiny Champions. Jensen told the Houston Business Journal there are still a lot of details to hammer out, but now he knows that the 3,200-square-foot restaurant at 2716 McKinney St. in...
Three creators behind acclaimed restaurant Nancy’s Hustle — chef Jason Vaughn, beverage specialist Sean Jensen and pastry chef Julia Doran — have teamed up again for a separate restaurant, called Tiny Champions.

Jensen told the Houston Business Journal there are still a lot of details to hammer out, but now he knows that the 3,200-square-foot restaurant at 2716 McKinney St. in East Downtown will seat between 90 and 95 guests and might have 40 employees. Emily Durham, partner and director of hospitality services with Houston-based Waterman Steele, represented the restaurant team in leasing the space. Houston-based Construction Concepts & Design is the contractor for the build-out, based on the team’s own design.

The food at Tiny Champions will be pizza- and pasta-heavy — but it won’t be strictly Italian, Jensen said. The pizzas will be naturally leavened with a thin, hand-tossed crust. Some side vegetables will come fresh and crunchy, some fermented – meaning pickled or lacto-fermented, which brings a sour note to the vegetables.

The wine program will be heavy on vermouth and fortified wines, as well as natural and sustainably produced wine.

The reason for the second restaurant is to grow business all-around, Jensen said. But the team is focusing on slow, organic growth.

“We have an amazing team at Nancy’s, and the only way you can keep amazing people around is give them an opportunity for growth,” he said.

The team is keeping it in the neighborhood — the new restaurant on McKinney is only blocks away from Nancy’s Hustle at 2704 Polk St. Jensen says there’s a niche that needs to be filled in Houston and in EaDO.

“Things are always busy, so we think there’s always people in the neighborhood who want to dine,” Jensen said.

Jensen said that a second location of Nancy’s Hustle wouldn’t make sense — moreover, it would be boring to do the same thing over and over again for him and his team.

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