Being a real estate developer isn’t always about just finding which property to invest in. Haidar Barbouti has been active in the real estate industry for over 20 years now, focusing mainly on commercial real estate. In 1991, he purchased the Highland Village Shopping Center in Houston, Texas. Built in the 1940s, it was one of the first luxury shopping centers to open in Houston. When Mr. Barbouti took over the property, he wasn’t just satisfied with renting out as much space as possible to maximize revenue. Instead, he transformed the place so that it becomes on of the most beautiful shopping areas in the country, thus attracting numerous high-profile tenants such as Starbucks and an Apple Store.
Later, Barbouti decided to build a third story on a part of the shopping center, believing that it would be the perfect place for a new restaurant that has a large patio over the Galleria area. The problem was that he just wasn’t able to find the type of tenant he wanted. While many other developers would have simply abandoned the idea at this point and let another type of establishment move into the area, Barbouti is known for a very hands-on approach to managing his properties. Therefore, he decided that it would be time to open his own restaurant.
What is surprising is that while Haidar Barbouti has extensive experience in the real estate market, he has never worked in a restaurant before and has no formal culinary training. He stated that in his case, knowing how to make money and create great food are what helped his restaurant succeed.
Operating since 2011, Up Restaurant is Barbouti’s answer to other eating establishments in the area. When asked about “trendy” restaurants, he certainly had a very poor opinion of them. The real estate developer stated in an interview that people come to a restaurant to eat and not to see “art” on a plate. He went on to criticize some restaurants for offering tiny portions at highly inflated costs, saying that one’s grandmother knows how to cook better than some of these chefs.
At Up Restaurant in Houston, it’s not about the latest fads of organic, fair-trade certified or locally sourced produced. Their mission is to provide clients with good food, with a large menu that was personally put together by the owner. You will find pizzas, Caesar salads, fish, filet mignon, beef, seafood, pasta and various desserts.