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High-profile Post Oak Grill

mini-postHigh-profile Post Oak Grill

High-profile Post Oak Grill chain sold to veteran chef

Houston restaurateur Manfred Jachmich has sold his three Post Oak Grill restaurants to longtime chef Polo Becerra.

Becerra started at Post Oak Grill as a line cook 12 years ago, and Jachmich says selling the restaurants to his chef made the most sense as he prepares to focus on other projects.

"Prior to the sale, there were other interested parties, but Polo was part of the package, and at the end of the day he was obviously the natural successor," Jachmich says.

The original Post Oak Grill on Post Oak Lane between San Felipe and Woodway is a hot-spot for power lunches and often plays host to some of the city's biggest names in business. Located near the home of George Bush Sr., the former president can often be found dining at the restaurant.

Jachmich also owns two Redwood Grill restaurants and a Sam's Boat restaurant and bar. He bought out his Post Oak Grill partner Ethel Emerson last year, and says offers started coming in for the restaurants six months later.

"I needed to simplify my life because I had too many plates in the air," Jachmich says.

The three restaurants included in the sale include the Post Oak Grill on Post Oak, the Post Oak Grill in the downtown tunnel underneath Reliant Energy Plaza and the Post Oak Grill in the American General building on Allen Parkway.

The selling price of the three restaurants was not disclosed.

Becerra started his career in Houston at The Rivoli 14 years ago and later alternated between cooking for Tony Vallone's La Griglia at lunchtime and Post Oak Grill at dinnertime.

As the executive chef of Post Oak Grill, Becerra doesn't plan any major changes for the restaurants. The original Post Oak Grill opened in 1989 as Bistro on Post Oak Lane. That was followed by the downtown tunnel location in 1999 and the Allen Parkway eatery in 2001.

"I know the customers, I know the system, and I've always wanted to own my own restaurant," Becerra says. "I've been serving my own food in the restaurant for many years, and I plan to make sure the quality is better than ever."

To ensure quality, Becerra says he checks the food for flavor and temperature every two hours and tastes the food four times a day.

Meanwhile, Becerra plans to focus on more face-to-face service between the chef and customers. And some other minor changes will be implemented.

For example, the tunnel and Allen Parkway Post Oak Grill locations currently serve lunch only, but Becerra is planning to open the Allen Parkway restaurant as a venue for dinners and parties with steaks, grilled lobster, fish and fine wine.

Becerra also plans to lower some of the prices and offer more healthy, organic food choices.

"I will make sure that the prices are always fair and that the quality of food is right," he says.
Moving on

Meanwhile, Jachmich is planning some changes of his own at his Redwood Grill restaurants.

The longtime restaurateur is working on overhauling the atmosphere at the Redwood Grill eateries -- located on Montrose and on Interstate 10, just west of Voss. He also is in the planning stages of opening a Redwood Grill downtown.

Jachmich has a rich history in the restaurant industry, including past involvement in such high-profile eateries as Ruggles, River Oaks Grill and Remington's Bar and Grill.

But these days, Jachmich is focusing specifically on his Redwood Grill and Sam's Boat concepts.

He points out that most of the white-tablecloth restaurants were hit hard after Sept. 11, so he plans to modify his Redwood Grill concept by moving away from the formal atmosphere in an attempt to attract the business-casual crowd.

Jachmich is planning to move to a single menu -- rather than separate lunch and dinner menus -- and offer lighter fare with a focus on daily specials.

"Instead of a special occasion place, I want it to be a place where people come more often," he says. "Times have changed, and I'm looking to push the envelope with the Redwood Grill."

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