The framed pictures lining the partitions of Island Grill on Woodway inform tales of household, buddies, meals and the achievement of desires. Every face and each second captured perpetually displays the enjoyment of a job effectively accomplished. 

Set in movement years in the past by Faysal Haddad, together with his spouse by his facet, together with their household, the Island Grill empire has grown to incorporate six eating places throughout Houston, with extra on the horizon. There’s no restrict to only how far the Island Grill restaurant collective can develop, however the coronary heart of this restaurant household will at all times be discovered at 5709 Woodway Drive.  

Haddad cares an awesome deal about all of his Island Grill areas, after all, however he has a sure tender spot for the unique restaurant on Woodway. It was his first location and the place the place he put down roots and watched his household develop up. Nowadays, it looks like there’s not a single one who walks by means of the door he doesn’t know. 

Haddad’s a jovial, gregarious artificial for the hospitality trade. He notices when a buyer’s glass is operating low and he’s at all times scoping out the restaurant, ensuring an everyday’s desk is out there for them. Good service is within the particulars — and Haddad makes positive no aspect of the eating expertise goes on with out his approval. 

“This. . . that is my future,” Haddad says on a sunny spring day. The Island Grill doorways are open and daylight streams all through the restaurant. Diners float between the patio and the within, refilling drinks and chatting with buddies.  

It’s a scene Haddad treasures and never one he would have anticipated 22 years in the past. This restaurant pure didn’t begin out within the restaurant enterprise. Solely after the underside fell out of the telecom trade in 2000 did Haddad swap gears, reluctantly shopping for a then juice bar known as Smoothie Island. At first, the Haddads solely offered juices, smoothies and nutritional vitamins. 

“I didn’t need to cope with meals. In actual fact, I attempted to promote the restaurant,” Haddad admits.

The acquisition was by no means meant to be long run, however since life is what occurs whenever you’re planning, Haddad, his spouse Maria Haddad and their youngsters pushed forward, laying the inspiration for what Island Grill is immediately. 

Faysal Haddad tells of the second all of it modified. “In the future, I checked out my spouse and mentioned ‘We have to add meals,’ ” he says.

After just a few household recipes, some harsh studying curves and falling on their face just a few occasions, the unique Island Grill was born just a few years later and success quickly adopted, Grace Haddad notes. 

The Island Grill of Right now

Every location takes each hospitality and accountable sourcing severely. The Haddad household has cooked with extra virgin olive oil since they launched meals to the restaurant, crediting their household heritage for the must-have wholesome ingredient. Island Grill’s Mediterranean menu is loaded with wholesome and filling favorites like hummus, falafel and gyros, however over time it has advanced to incorporate a plethora of different dishes like hamburgers, rooster piccata and crème brûlée French toast.

There’s something for everybody right here.

The menu isn’t the one factor to alter and develop on the Woodway restaurant within the early days. Grace and Michael Haddad cherish childhood recollections enjoying Nintendo GameCube on a Mickey Mouse TV tucked behind the kitchen wall just a few toes from the entrance door. Faysal and Maria bought it for them and the opposite youngsters at Island Grill.

“It made being there for lengthy durations of time simple and enjoyable,” Grace Haddad remembers.

Faysal Haddad additionally mounted an HD tv within the restaurant that drew a really particular crowd. “The day merchants would are available throughout rush hour,” Faysal Haddad says. “They’d are available and watch CNBC. It was loopy.” 

‘I might feed it to my household’ is the Island Grill customary.

The restaurant turned a neighborhood hub with Haddad rising because the mayor of scrumptious, wholesome meals. The secret is a relaxed place to get pleasure from all of it. Fast coffees, leisurely lunches, post-practice snacks and household dinners all happen at Island Grill.  

“It takes you again to the previous days, like Depart it to Beaver and the neighborhood soda store,” Faysal Haddad says. “What’s so stunning now’s seeing the children I’ve recognized since elementary faculty coming in now, pushing their very own infants in strollers. It simply feels good.”

One other signal of the close-knit neighborhood fostered by the Haddad household? Longtime staff like Ramona Perez and Pete Harrison, each of whom have been with the corporate for greater than 20 years.  

Through the years, well-known faces started gracing Island Grill’s orange partitions. The Houston restaurant’s partitions are actually actually a “Who’s Who” of notables together with sports activities greats Joe Montana, Ray Childress, Andy Pettitte and Mario Ellie. Whereas the restaurant was nonetheless known as Smoothie Island, George H.W. Bush visited the neighborhood spot and created his personal smoothie — a mix of strawberries, blueberries and banana. You possibly can nonetheless order the presidential smoothie immediately. 

The Haddads continued to adapt and develop and that ultimately meant updating the Woodway location. They turned to Margaret Ann McKeever, proprietor of the Houston design agency MALI, for the overhaul. Whereas the orange partitions needed to go, the framed photos have been an absolute must-stay.  

The outcomes are beautiful, bringing a contemporary area that’s glossy, however not fussy, full with blue and inexperienced accents and complementary textures. In what’s absolutely a sly nod to the daring citrus partitions of the previous, the household launched wood-fired pizzas to the menu. Which meant a shiny orange pizza oven within the kitchen that’s simply seen. 

“The Woodway transform was a fairly emotional second for our household,” Grace Haddad says. “That location began as a struggling gap within the wall smoothie and juice bar. My brother and I spent a number of our time there as a result of my mother and father made up half of the employees initially.

“My dad would go door-to-door with flyers making an attempt to drive enterprise. My mother even labored behind the counter up till she was 9 months pregnant with my youthful sister Sophie.”

After all, that was then and that is now. The now features a full-service bar that could be a favourite spot for completely happy hour get-togethers. The eating places additionally hosts Wine Wednesdays from 3 pm to 7 pm, providing half off any bottle or glass of wine with the acquisition of an entree. The cocktail menu is intensive and the wine record is filled with high quality varietals for each palate.

Faysal Haddad takes both hospitality and responsible sourcing seriously at Island Grill.
Faysal Haddad, pictured right here at Island Grill in Spring, Texas, the primary of the restaurant’s areas in Houston’s surrounding areas.

Faysal Haddad beams with pleasure with the as soon as struggling smoothie spot now a longstanding neighborhood gathering place. He appreciates all those that have made Island Grill a hit. 

“This has been our entire social life,” he says. “It means loads to us that folks respect our meals and what we now have to supply. It’s just a little like Cheers right here. Everybody is aware of your title.” 

And if for some motive you want a reputation refresher, simply ask Faysal. He actually does appear to know everybody’s title. And if he doesn’t know yours, he’ll absolutely study it the primary time you are available.

For extra on Island Grill, its menus and its contemporary distinction, check out its full website.

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