My Top 5: Lee Ellis of Cherry Pie Hospitality

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Photo: Julie Soefer

Our My Top 5 feature showcases Houstonians who are shaping the culture in the city and impacting people’s lives. In turn, they share their own favorite things to do in Houston when they’re not hard at work. This week, we’re very pleased to feature Lee Ellis, owner of restaurant concept group Cherry Pie Hospitality which currently operates Petite Sweets, Lee’s Fried Chicken and Donuts, and the newly opened State Fare.

My Top 5 Things to Do in Houston

by Lee Ellis

  1. – Originally an old motorcycle shop located off Griggs Road, Loma Linda re-invented the space in 1956 which originally only seated 26 customers. They’ve since moved to Telephone Road in the East End, but the puffy taco they serve crispy-style instead of San Antonio-style is as good as the first day it debuted on their menu. It’s more like having a taco salad since you can’t pick it up and eat it. Seriously, it’s a beautiful work of art that deserves to be behind glass.
  2. Kasra Persian Grill – Hands down, Kasra’s is the best hummus in the city. On top of that, the chicken thighs are just incredible. I’ve been eating here forever at this staple Persian restaurant located at Gessner and Westheimer. It’s easy to miss since it’s in a strip center, but do yourself a favor and check it out.
  3. Riding motorcycles on the weekend – One of my favorite things to do on a Saturday or Sunday is hit the road on my Harley with Jim Mills from Cherry Pie Hospitality. Every weekend we’ll head east, west or north (it’s nothing against the south we just haven’t made a ride that direction yet). If we go west we hit up a barbecue joint, if we head east we go see Jim’s family, and if we go north..well it’s just going to be a long ride. As an added bonus we usually tie each trip together with a mission to eat at a dive we’ve yet to try. Both Jim and I love the sense of community that comes with riding Harley’s and there’s nothing like hitting the open Texas roads on an American made machine.
  4. La Hacienda – This place holds a special place in my heart. On a personal note, it is the first place I ever tried Tex-Mex when I was 13 years old. Located off Memorial, this family-owned Mexican restaurant has been open since 1973 with one other location open off 26th in the Heights. I’ve been coming here for so long they’ll let me roll in with a six pack of Big Red soda to complete one of my own custom Big Red frozen margaritas —try it. When you’ve been a regular as long as I have it comes with its share of perks.
  5. Manready Mercantile – Jewelry, boots, baseball caps, whatever I need Manready in the Heights seems to have me covered on American made goods. For me, almost more than their selection, it’s a pleasure to see how spirited Travis Weaver is about his business. I can see that the folks at Manready Mercantile are passionate about what they do in the same way that we’re passionate about what we do. That extra care is something that I think everyone can appreciate.

About Lee Ellis

Born in Lafayette, LA, Lee Ellis came to Houston at age 10 with his parents, who were homebuilders. An esteemed entrepreneur and visionary, Ellis is behind many popular Texas-based establishments including Belvedere, BRC Gastropub, Liberty Kitchen, Petite Sweets, Lee’s Fried Chicken and Donuts, and State Fare. In April 2016 Ellis launched his latest restaurant concept company, Cherry Pie Hospitality. Prior to that, he was the co-owner and driving force behind F.E.E.D. TX and its many hot spots in Houston and Austin. As a partner in these successful hospitality establishments, Ellis is credited for being the work ethic and inspiration behind all of their success. Ellis currently resides in the Historic Heights area of Houston with his wife Melissa and numerous pets.