Chef Stefon Rishel, Formerly with Max’s Wine Dive in Fort Worth, Appointed Exec Chef
After successfully serving the Galleria area for over five years, 51fifteen restaurant, owned and operated by Landmark Hospitality, is excited to announce the transition from its 5700-square-foot location within the current Saks Fifth Avenue to an expanded 9800-square-foot space in the stunning new Saks space located at 5175 Westheimer Road in The Galleria. The current restaurant and store will close on April 20 as staff transition to the new restaurant and store next door. Both will officially reopen on April 28.
“We couldn’t be more excited about unveiling our newly designed concept,” says Joseph Lenahan, COO for Landmark Hospitality. “51fifteen is going to become the premier venue for the Galleria area, offering extraordinary dining experiences for lunch, dinner, cocktails and private parties.” Houston-based Nina Magon of Contour Interior Design created the design inspiration, with Construction Concepts bringing the grand space to life. Chef Stefon Rishel, formerly with Max’s Wine Dive in Fort Worth, will helm the kitchen as executive chef. The chef-driven menu will be seasonal, featuring Southern European-inspired cuisine. Overseeing front-of-house operations as 51fifteen’s new General Manager is Chad Wherry. Also hailing from the DFW area, Wherry has worked the past two years alongside Rishel at Max’s Wine Dive as GM, following a six-year tenure in leadership roles with Craft at The W Dallas-Victory.
With a palette of white, gray, black and brass, plus white marbled stone and the use of mid-century modern pieces, the cohesively designed space is classic, modern and one-of-a-kind. “We wanted to create a space unlike anything in Houston,” says Magon. The interior took more than a year to conceive and still continues to evolve with construction. “It’s very unique with lots of design surprises. Every time a diner visits 51fifteen they can have a different experience, depending upon where they sit.”
To draw the eye of shoppers from the retail area to the restaurant, the second floor entrance will feature a stunning art installation featuring a sea of tulips dangling from the ceiling. Once inside the dining room, which seats 208, guests will notice stepped octagons made of wood, brass and stone running up the wall and across the ceiling, a geometric theme that is continued throughout the restaurant. There is a private dining space that will seat 100 or can be divided into two separate rooms. “With numerous upcoming events pre-booked, our private dining space is already proving to be a game-changer for the restaurant,” says Lenahan, noting that the original location did not offer private dining.
Adjacent to the restaurant is a spacious bar with a glowing bottle display of backlit acrylic and brass shelving. A semi-private lounge nearby features sleek lighting embedded floor-to-ceiling into the wall, abstract art, low seating and a metal drapery with brass detailing to create a posh, contemporary vibe.
In addition to the second floor restaurant, bar and lounge, 51fifteen will operate a satellite bar located on the first floor of Saks Fifth Avenue’s retail space, at the base of a circular staircase. Coffee and pastries will be provided by a barista in the morning, while cocktails, wine and light bites will be offered in the afternoons and evenings. The wraparound bar is located at the heart of the Saks Fifth Avenue store, adjacent to women’s fragrance.
Guests at 51fifteen can expect the unexpected from Executive Chef Stefon Rishel. Rishel’s passion for fresh seafood, his desire to use sustainable ingredients, and his excitement to work with local purveyors, will all come together in a chef-driven menu reminiscent of Southern European fare. He refers his approach to the cuisine at 51fifteen “local worldly,” combining traditional preparations with locally sourced, seasonal ingredients to create fresh, yet familiar dishes. “Everyone needs a little familiarity in what they’re eating in order for it to truly resonate,” says Rishel.
The highly acclaimed chef won Fort Worth’s Top Chef Competition in 2015. He also achieved Best Dish at Taste of Fort Worth (2015), as well as Best Comfort Food (2014) and Best Brunch in Fort Worth (2014 and 2015) from Fort Worth, Texas magazine’s Best Of Issues, among other notable awards. Originally from Jackson, Michigan, Rishel has lived in North Texas since he was eight years old. The chef’s signature pink mohawk signifies his unconventional style, something that translates from his personality to the plate. “For me, the message it sends is that there are no rules. You’ll see some unconventional items on my menu but at the end of the day, what matters is if the flavor profiles work.” The restaurant’s newly designed beverage menu will offer handcrafted cocktails, local craft beers and a contemporary wine list.
Though 51fifteen is within The Galleria itself, access to the restaurant will be more convenient than ever, with valet parking available at the Westheimer entrance and self parking beneath the store within the purple lot, accessed from either Westheimer or Sage. “The underground parking will allow direct access to the restaurant through a separate elevator,” says Lenahan, “this allows for convenient after hours access for our guests.”
Pre-opening celebrations include a private dinner benefitting the Houston Grand Opera and co-hosted by Town & Country magazine on April 26 and a cocktail reception on April 27 benefiting MD Anderson Cancer Center.
Aptly named for its original address at 5115 Westheimer,51fifteen will remain open seven days a week, serving lunch and dinner Monday through Friday along with brunch and dinner on Saturdays and Sundays. For reservations visit opentable.com or call 713-963-8067. For more information visit 51fifteen.com or follow the restaurant on Facebook at facebook.com/51fifteen, Twitter at twitter.com/51fifteenor Instagram at instagram.com/51fifteen.
NOTE TO EDITORS: Images of 51fifteen renderings, Executive Chef Stefon Rishel and General Manager Chad Wherry, along with bios and a fact sheet are available to download here.