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“I love a challenge.”

Adrian Hembree of Grazia Italian Kitchen and Grace Pizza and Shakes sat with the Vice President of Grace Development, Chris Loftis, at a nearly empty dining table. In front of them, two hot-off-the-press copies of their latest menu for yet another culinary undertaking. “I like that I can do something, and I don’t have to say a whole lot to do it, but then the end result is smiles,” Hembree said of his passion for restaurants. “It’s almost as close to controlled chaos as you can get. You’re slightly out of control, but you’re in control. And I love the thrill of that as well.” 

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On November 23 Hembree and his team will officially open a third thrilling concept in the Grace line of restaurants; Grace Market. An Italian deli in Pearland specializing in high quality sandwiches. “The imagery that I looked at and kept going back to was that old, 1930’s old-school deli, with people in nice bowties preparing the meat,” Hembree explained. “It’s kinda like my stab at a modern-day, Italian deli with a fun little Grace twist to it.” 

The contemporary, cozy, black-and-white design of Grace Market imparts a classic and nostalgic ambience, attracting customers before the doors have even opened. “That’s when you know we’re ready; people are talking about it and walking by,” Loftis said. “The first time I walked in here it did not look like this. There was a lot of love put into it. Having Adrian talk about it, and then it come totally together, is something that I was really looking forward to. It’s just awesome to see.” 

Italian Sandwiches Come to Pearland

Located on Broadway just a few doors down from Grazia Italian Kitchen, Grace Market’s spread will include deli favorites like cobb salad, muffuletta sandwiches, and an antipasto plate, while still highlighting that Grace personality with their Texas toast offerings and sandwiches named after key players in the foundation of the restaurant, Greg Hill and Roy Castillo. “We started doing research. We tried a lot of different meats and cheeses, and we wanted to cross utilize as much as possible,” Loftis explained. “It’s not just about the meat; it’s about everything else we put on there. When you work for Adrian, it’s always going to be the best.” 

To supply the bulk of the protein for the restaurant, Grace Market has partnered with R-C Ranch out of Bailey’s Prairie; a ranching business that specializes in traceable, high quality beef and pork. “He’s got unbelieve Wagyu,” Hembree said of Ryan Cade, co-founder of R-C Ranch alongside Blake Robertson. “When you use a great product like that, you deliver it in a great way.”

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Hembree, who opened Grazia in 2014, says that there’s something uniquely special about debuting an Italian deli in Pearland. “Pearland has a little-big-town feel, but it’s never lost its little-town persona,” he described. “We wanted to build an experience that drives people here, and they talk about it. We’re going to be so hyper-focused into the local community, the local farmer, the local rancher, the employees and who we have and what we do. I think people will come from all over to eat at this restaurant.” 

Community and Opportunity

After the November 23 opening, Grace Market will host business hours from 11 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., Tuesdays through Sundays, excluding holidays. The extended back patio will feature Houston-area musicians on the Grace Market stage and will be available for events once the renovation is complete. “We want to provide a platform that creates space and opportunities for people to gather,” Hembree explained. “We just want to make sure that we can utilize our patio for people to come out, feel safe, and gather.” 

Fans of Grace Pizza and Shakes in nearby Alvin will see a familiar face behind the counter of Grace Market; owner-operator CJ Ramirez. “He was just a beacon of light for us over at Grace Pizza and Shakes,” Hembree said. “What we’ve been able to do is give him the opportunity to own and operate this restaurant. I kinda just love the idea of really letting people have so much opportunity and upside.”

“There’s nothing better in the world than doing something with that much love and passion,” Hembree continued. “I wanted to get back to the roots of what makes sandwiches really, really, really good. And I felt like I wasn’t getting too far out of what I know within the Italian realm.”

Visit GraceMarketLocal.com for more information, and plan the rest of your Pearland-foodie adventure at VisitPearland.com. 

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