Fort Worth steak restaurant Mercury Chop House has caught a second wind. The restaurant, which closed in August, has signed a lease on a new space at 525 Taylor St., in the Tower building, formerly home to pizzeria Vivo 53, which closed in June.
Mercury owner Zack Moutaouakil felt it was important to stay downtown, after he'd been in his former location at 301 Main St. for more than 15 years. That location will become home to Jon Bonnell's seafood restaurant Waters, whose lease in the West 7th district ended in August.
"I have 23 years downtown," Moutaouakil says. "Our regulars and our name downtown give us a large base, and they're happy we're coming back. The area has changed for the good very recently. Downtown is breathing better right now."
The space he's taking over has had a number of concepts come and go, but the building seems to be on an upswing. Mercury will join new tenant Salsa Limon, the taqueria chain which just opened in the building, in the former Qdoba space.
Moutaouakil will open the restaurant, briefly, on Thanksgiving Day, to feed the Fort Worth Police Officers Association. It will then close again to complete the remodeling, with a reopening forecast for the second week of December.
At the same time, there are changes to its cousin, formerly known as Mercury Grill in Arlington. That restaurant has a new name, New American Bistro, to mark its changing profile and status.
Owner Rabii Moutaouakil, who previously worked at Mercury Chop House, opened Mercury Grill in 2015.
"It was originally conceived as a wine bar, but we're changing the name, and changing the concept," he says. "The menu will be similar, but it has evolved in response to the area, and what people here want. We've found there's more of a need for a full dine-in restaurant."
The name change also cuts ties with the downtown outlet. "When I first opened, it was still part of the family business," he says. "Now, I'm on my own."
The new name affords the freedom to be more casual and include dishes such as the Greek "nachos" that were recently offered as a special.
"We've been talking about doing this for a while, and the timing seemed right," Rabii says.