Stephen Hightower is planning a new restaurant for the former Bistro Byronz space on Government Street, which was vacated in January when the longtime Mid City restaurant relocated to the former White Star Market space in Square 46.
Hightower isn’t ready to discuss details of his new eatery, which he hopes to open in late spring, but says it will be called The Spoke and Hub—a play on words that refers to Government Street’s new road diet and bike lanes.
“We want it to be a great neighborhood spot, just like it already was,” says Hightower, who is planning to renovate the space and make it more “user friendly.”
Plans for The Spoke and Hub come as Hightower continues to aggressively grow his City Group Hospitality company, which, with the new restaurant, will comprise nine separate businesses under its corporate umbrella.
They include City Pork Brasserie and Bar on Jefferson Highway, City Pork Catering, and two City Pork restaurants on the LSU campus including the newest, which opened in January, in the LSU vet school.
Additionally under City Group Hospitality, which Hightower co-owns with Patrick Valluzzo, are: City Slice Pints + Pizza, Rouj Creole, Beausoleil, and Turning Point Food Services, the latter of which is a new division that caters school lunches for Catholic High School and the Baton Rouge International School.
Hightower launched Turning Point in mid-2020 and was awarded the CHS contract last fall, which for years was held by Piccadilly. Since then, he has introduced his various restaurant concepts to the school cafeteria’s menu, as well as a new line of healthy dishes.
A CHS alumnus, Hightower is also using his platform as the CHS caterer to mentor CHS students interested in a career in the restaurant industry. He created and moderates a student club called Grizzly Hospitality Group that meets weekly. Hightower brings in different industry professionals to talk to the students about various aspects of the hospitality industry. Over the course of the semester, the club is going to develop its own restaurant concept.
“It’s really been a lot of fun,” Hightower says.
With the beating the hospitality industry has taken during the pandemic, it might seem counterintuitive to pursue a growth strategy amid so much uncertainty. But Hightower says he is optimistic that market conditions will change for the better in 2021.
“I think by the time we open on Government Street things will be a lot better,” he says. “Our approach from the beginning has been to hustle and get as much business as we could. We never quit and hopefully that has been a positive for us.”
Editor’s note: This story has been updated since it was first published to correct the name of restaurant City Slice Pints + Pizza. Daily Report regrets the error.