Greg Perez, former beverage director and partner at cocktail bar Monkey’s Tail, and Houston restaurant veteran Lyle Bento, former chef/owner of Southern Goods, are teaming up to make front-page news. The duo have formed Night Moves Hospitality. The new collective, which also includes several former members of the Monkey’s Tail team, plans to open two bar and restaurant concepts in the next several months and is developing two more expected to debut later in 2021.
Scheduled to open in late April is Space Cowboy, an island-themed bar and restaurant located in Heights House Hotel, the retro-modern, boutique hotel at 100 West Cavalcade. The food will be inspired by Bento’s years growing up in Hawaii, but will also add Yucatan and Polynesian influences into the mix. For those waiting on the thunder, the tropical cocktail program will be helmed by Samantha Ruiz, who owned Palace Party Beverage Company before working at Monkey’s Tail, and Karen Cervantes, a Veracruz, Mexico native who studied Hotel Management at Houston Community College and is currently earning in a bachelor’s in biochemistry.
Shortly after Space Cowboy opens (in time for the sweet summertime), the team will debut Trash Panda Drinking Club in the former Edison & Patton location at 4203 Edison. This bar and restaurant, with ample indoor and outdoor seating across the street from Gerardo’s (Houston’s longtime go-to for barbacoa) will serve Bento’s spiced-up takes on southern classics and drinks designed by Logan Pollack, who has been behind the stick at Flying Saucer, Cottonwood, and Monkey’s Tail and Matthew McEwan, previously at Calle Onze, Edison & Patton and Monkey’s Tail.
Bento is a well-known chef to many Houston diners thanks to getting his start at Rainbow Lodge and Stella Sola before working at Feast and Underbelly. In 2015, he opened the popular Southern Goods, before it was tragically shuttered by a fire. While there, he coordinated supply drives and provided meals, cleaning products, baby supplies and meals to victims of Hurricane Harvey in Houston and Beaumont. After the fire at Southern Goods, Bento returned to Underbelly Hospitality as chef de cuisine. In 2018, he became culinary director of Sambrooks Management Company and helped opened 1751 Sea & Bar before abruptly leaving in September 2019.
Perez, who was an assistant football coach at Houston Baptist University, made a name for himself in Houston’s bar and restaurant scene as the beverage director for Edison & Patton, a now-closed Near Northside establishment, and Calle Onze, an upscale Heights Tex-Mex restaurant. He then helped open Monkey’s Tail, a cocktail bar in Lindale Park, where he grew up. Under his direction, Monkey’s Tail was a 2020 Tales of the Cocktail regional finalist for Best New American Cocktail Bar.
In a statement, Perez said, “This is a collective effort. I’m really excited about the team we have in place. Lyle is leading the charge on the food, and the kids are doing a lot of the work on the drink side, creating the menus, picking out décor and fixtures and matching the concepts to their personalities. It’s a talented and hungry group. We’re going to have a lot of fun.”