Café Express announced that its longtime River Oaks location (1422 West Gray St.) reopened on Tuesday, October 4 following a complete renovation with plans to expand its perennially popular brand of fresh, flavorful dining to The Woodlands, Webster and beyond.
Café Express at River Oaks Plaza – which became the concept’s third location when it opened in 1991 – has been refashioned with a warm and welcoming indoor/outdoor living aesthetic reminiscent of the art-house style found at classic European cafés. The 4,200 square-foot interior pays homage to its founders Lonnie Schiller and Robert Del Grande who concepted the brand while on vacation in Europe.
“The remodel of our River Oaks restaurant marks an exciting time in the evolutionary journey of the beloved Café Express brand,” noted Café Express President Sarah McAloon in a statement. She added, “Not only have we totally renovated our River Oaks location, but we have also elevated the menu and overall dining experience while maintaining prices that are in keeping with a family-friendly, craft-casual neighborhood restaurant.”
Guests can expect the same European-inspired flavors, ingredients, and scratch-made dressings and sauces that have been a hallmark of Café Express since making its 1984 debut on Houston’s Post Oak Lane, including Tuscan Amore Pasta, Chicken Deli Salad, Basil Pesto Chicken and Mediterranean Grilled Salmon entrées. The curated condiment bar is also back complete with housemade croutons and roasted garlic along with European-imported condiments like mixed olives, capers, cornichons, and the famous Italian Grissini breadsticks.
New European-inspired menu items like Amalfi Chicken and Steak Bavette entrées both drizzled with housemade lemon herb sauce, Tuna Nicoise salad, and Spanish Romesco Chicken entrée will give diners lunch and dinner options. The beverage program includes a beer and wine menu, including happy hour specials featuring $5 wine glasses, as well as the return of the black currant and mango iced teas. Plans for family meal bundles and an expanded happy hour program are also in the works.
In keeping with other recent industry-wide changes that have resulted in restaurants utilizing smaller footprints and to accommodate the demand for seamless takeout experiences, Café Express has added curbside pickup and shelving for quick contactless pick up for online orders.
Not only has Café Express fully modernized the overall customer experience, but it is also giving back to the community with a new philanthropic program – dubbed Café Cares – which raises funds by donating up to 20% of sales to local non-profit organizations.
Café Express will continue to make renovations to their existing locations at Town & Country and in Meyerland while expanding to The Woodlands this Fall as it embarks on a long-term plan to roll out 30 new stores (15 in Houston and 15 in Dallas) by the year 2030.
“Our goal is to enhance the restaurant experience to accommodate both dine-in and take-out guests in the new 3,000 – 4,200 square foot footprints. The beautifully remodeled River Oaks location is the first example of our expansion plan and designs,” continued McAloon. “We are thrilled to breathe new energy into this pioneering restaurant concept and introduce it to a whole new generation of future Café Express lovers all while honoring our past, by keeping the fresh, flavorful, and delicious food at affordable prices longtime fans know and love.”
One lucky winner will win Free Café Express for a year when they open their doors on October 4, 2022, by signing up for their Café Express Rewards program. Café Express will also be donating a portion of the proceeds for the first week of opening to Search, a non-profit organization that works to engage, stabilize, educate, employ and house individuals and families who are homeless in Houston, Texas.