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Owners Ronnie Killen and Ricky Craig have been hard at work in preparation for the opening of the highly anticipated CK’s Steakhouse. But the pair has faced some unforeseen challenges in preparation of the property at 1127 W. 19th Street, next to the Heights outpost of Craig’s Hubcap Grill.
“The problem we’re having with the property right now is that we want to expand it: Add on a patio on the front, make the dining room bigger and then add on a kitchen in the back,” said Craig.
But when it turned out the property was in a flood plain, a permit couldn’t be granted without elevating the building by three feet, he said. He and Killen decided that elevating the structure and concrete foundation would result in more permitting and headaches. “It’d be better for us to bulldoze it, just tear it down and just start from scratch,” said Craig.
The structure, formerly the location of Shine’s Car Care, is set to be demolished in the next few weeks.
“I think that’s the best thing to do because the building was very old,” said Killen. “I know it’s going to hold everything up, but it is going to be a lot less time to do it this way than to do it the other way, which is good.”
CK’s Steakhouse is looking at another two months of waiting for the approval the drawings and the paperwork with the engineers and the contractors. “It is changing the time frame tremendously,” said Craig.
Craig says both he and Killen were becoming frustrated with the delay in progress, but have other obligations keeping them busy in the meantime. “Ronnie is opening up a BBQ joint in Pearland, so it gives him more time to concentrate on doing his thing,” said Craig. ??“Hopefully we can bring that concept to the Heights, too,” said Killen about his latest venture.
“It gives me more to focus on Hubcap, polishing it, because I know once CK’S opens up, my life’s going to be dedicated to it,” said Craig.They says this fall is the soonest we will see CK’s Steakhouse open the planned 5,000 sq. ft. facility.
Both chefs have received national acclaim for their mastery of their respective meats –– Craig’s creative hamburgers and Killen’s steaks and barbecue.
“We don’t want a big steakhouse that sits like 200 to 300 people. We want something small that seats like 80 people, that’s intimate, quiet, and relaxing. We feel like when it’s smaller like that, the service will be better and the consistency of the food will be better,” said Craig. “As far as the concept, it’s not going to be exactly Killen’s Steakhouse,” said Killen. “We’re trying to come up together with something that will work for the area.”
The concept both owners are aiming for is affordable, quality food in a relaxed environment, unlike the typical steakhouses set aside special occasions only.
“CK’s Steakhouse is going to be very nice, very good food, but it’s going to be more reasonable,” said Killen. “When you go to a steakhouse, they’re very, very expensive and people can’t afford to eat that all the time,” he said. “They’re packed and food is mediocre. If we can take that same price point and make it really good, I think we’ll have a win-win.”
The pair also agree about serving the freshest, local ingredients available. “Once we get close, we want to have a garden out there in the back so we can have fresh herbs and tomatoes,” said Killen.
CK’s Steakhouse will offer grass-fed Wagyu Kosher beef from Strube Ranch in Pittsburg, Texas, which Killen currently offers at his Pearland restaurant.
Of his new partnership, Killen said “He’s a good guy. He’s very passionate about what he does and he’s got a good product. So, why wouldn’t I want to be a partner with him? I think it’s a good combination of what he does and what I do and we’ll put it together and see how it goes.”
The pair’s Pearland roots drew them together. Craig resides in Pearland, and he and his family have been longtime customers of Killen’s Steakhouse. “Everybody knows he’s like the steak guru,” said Craig about Killen. “I just like his concept, what he has to offer. I like his menu because he offers so much variety when it comes to the steaks,” he said.
When asked if Killen would continue to run his steakhouse in Pearland, he said “That’s always going to be the original, like Ninfa’s on Navigation.
“Ronnie Killen has a lot of passion. I have a lot of passion,” said Craig. “With the two combined together, it’s pretty much a home run. Not even a home run, a grand slam.”