The Hay Merchant, at 1100 Westheimer, was opened by chef Chris Shepherd, Kevin Floyd and Bobby Heugel in 2012. Sharing a butcher room with their seminal restaurant next door, Underbelly, the 110-seat Hay Merchant has 80 tap handles and serves creative takes on classic bar items. When Shepherd closed both Underbelly to make way for its replacement Georgia James, he shifted some of its favorite dishes to the brewpub’s menu. The name Hay Merchant is a historical nod to Mitchell Louis Westheimer, an influential Houstonian who settled an area that would later develop into one of the most famous streets in Houston. In additional to his many professions, Westheimer was a successful hay merchant during the 1850s and 1860s.
The Hay Merchant was named to the Eater 38 as one of the 38 essential restaurants in Houston by Eater. Chris Shepherd was named one of the 10 Best New Chefs in America by Food & Wine in 2013 and was then awarded the 2014 James Beard Award for Best Chef: Southwest.
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